Monday, September 26, 2011

Red River Gorge-eous!

Stanton, KY.  This past weekend marked the second consecutive year the Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer program attended the Living Archeology Weekend at the scenic Red River Gorge in the Daniel Boone National Forest.  Known for its abundant natural stone arches, unusual rock formations, and spectacular sandstone cliffs, the Red River Gorge has been designated a geological area by the Forest Service.  

Sky Bridge

In 2010, the Red River Gorge was named as the very first Leave No Trace Hot Spot.  A Leave No Trace Hot Spot is an are that is impacted by litter, dog waste, invasive species, habituated wildlife, trail and campsite erosion, contamination of water sources, names carved in trees, cigarette butts along a trail, damaged cultural and historic sites, toilet paper “flowers” around campsites and pets chasing wildlife.  Once a site is nominated and selected, The Center seeks to minimize these common impacts through outreach, education, training, signage, educational materials, consulting and local collaboration.  One year later, both the Center and Forest Rangers that we spoke to are pleased with the progress of the program.  

Leave No Trace Signage at the Gladie Visitor Center

This year, Team East returned to the gorge for a weekend of education and outreach.  On Friday, we were stationed at the Gladie Visitor Center.   We met with more than 800 fifth graders, teachers, and their chaperones to stress the importance of the Leave No Trace Principle Leave What You Find.   Throughout the course of the day, there were many "lightbulb" moments for the students.  They understood that if past generations had removed cultural items from the natural world, today we would have a lesser understanding of our cultural history.  Looking to the future, the students were also empathetic to the idea that if were on a  hike today and removed arrowheads, artifacts, and other historical items from the natural world, then future generations will not be able to study the historical significance of these cultural areas either.  Lightbulbs were, indeed,  turning on left and right for these young stewards of the land!

Above, students work on the activity "Sentence Frenzy" to understand the importance of preserving and protecting the cultural resource in their own back yards. Our next stop is Lake Barkley State Resort Park for a trainer course with the Kentucky State Parks.  Team East signing off from the Bluegrass State!

Explore Responsibly...Kate and Tracy

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