Thursday, February 23, 2012

Gettin' out the WHY in AZ!

Our week kicked off with back-to-back stellar sessions in Flagstaff and Sedona with the Northern Arizona University Trip Leaders and the Red Rock Ranger District in the Coconino National Forest. With both groups we got to really dig into the "why" of Leave No Trace -- talking about ecological and social impacts in their part of the country as well as how to message the information.  After an intense and snow-filled weekend of trip-leader training, we met with the students back at their awesome rec center. As a group, we got to play some fun games, including Plan Ahead and Prepare Charades and a great game focusing on different outdoor user groups. Two highlights of the afternoon were working with them to reflect on their experience in the field that weekend and discussing how to talk to individuals, both on their crews and people they encounter in the outdoors, about Leave No Trace skills and ethics. Students and leaders like these make it clear why NAU is such a great educational partner for the Center. They even lead Trainer Courses of their own throughout the year and are truly dedicated to practicing and educating the principles of Leave No Trace!

With Candice from the Forest Service in Red Rock Country!

In Red Rock Country, we met with a diverse group of Sedona-lovers including Forest Service personnel, volunteers from the Friends of the Forest, and outfitters. These groups are dedicated to protecting one of the most beautiful parts of the country. One clever technique they employ is having a marketing campaign to educate visitors about cryptobiotic soils -- both their fragility and their importance to the desert ecosystem. In addition to desert issues, we had a great discussion about the frontcountry program from the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. The area receives over four million visitors a year, most of them headed to day-use only locations. By focusing on educating these visitors in a myriad of ways, these frontliners are getting out the WHY to both first-time users and backcountry aficionados. We felt fortunate to spend the day with such impassioned individuals! Thanks for all the hard work you do!

From Red Rocks to Cacti,

Quinn & Frank

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