Thursday, November 18, 2010

Dear Education Department

Dear Education Department,

I am curious as to the history of the Leave No Trace program. I’ve heard the phrase Leave No Trace all my life and later learned that it is a formal program and nonprofit organization through a workshop I attended. Where and when did the Leave No trace program begin?
-Sincerely, History Buff

Thank you for the email, History Buff.Here’s a quick lesson on the dynamic history of Leave No Trace, some additional resources, and ideas on how you can share our story with others!

The reason the phrase “Leave No Trace” is a familiar slogan to so many people is because it began as just that—a slogan-based backcountry program in response to increased human impacts—trash, water contamination, trampling of vegetation, feeding of wildlife—that correlated with an increase in outdoor recreation.

Land management agencies needed an effective way to promote minimizing recreational impacts on public lands and, thus, the term “leave no trace” was born. It began as an effort within the USDA Forest Service but over the years fostered interagency collaboration amongst the National Park Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Land Management, as well as many state and local land management agencies.

Since the 70’s and 80’s the program has evolved by leaps and bounds, becoming an international education program with a proven training structure and effective outreach mechanisms. The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics or the “Center” is the hub of this activity, managing fundraising, program development, training efforts, research and distribution of Leave No Trace information. New programs are developed every year and, as of recently, “Bigfoot” has been known to make an appearance there too. After all, he’s been leaving no trace for years.

If you’d like more in-depth information, check out this article on our history page:
Giving a history lesson as part of a training is great idea because it not only provides a context for the program, but it demonstrates how embedded it has become in all aspects of outdoor recreation.

Using the Power Point as a guide create a timeline of different key events/milestones in the history of the Leave No Trace program. Write each of these milestones on a different index care, shuffle and distribute to all of your participants. Have them work together to create a visible timeline with the cards, starting from the program origins in the 1970’s to the newest community program—the Bigfoot Challenge and Leave No Trace Hot Spots—in 2010.

Thanks for your support!

The Leave No Trace Education Department

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