Monday, April 30, 2012

Open Places are Great Spaces

Little Missouri River in Theodore Roosevelt National Park
The e-tour has made it to the Dakotas! Over the past 48 hours, we have traveled from Nebraska to South Dakota to the northern reaches of North Dakota, arriving in Minot today for a couple days of training. It's been a perfect way to experience National Parks Week, as we have been lucky enough to stop in two different National Parks in the Dakotas -- Wind Cave and Theodore Roosevelt National Parks. These treasures of the prairies, Black Hills, and badlands highlight both unique geology and incredible wildlife. One of the coolest aspects of the parks are the herds of wild bison or American Buffalo. Drawing on the legacy of President Teddy Roosevelt to protect the bison by reintroducing them to the prairies above Wind Cave in 1913 from the New York Zoological Society, these parks provide sanctuary to some of the most magnificent creatures on Earth.

Buffalo in Theodore Roosevelt National Park
We want to challenge you to think about the importance of wide open spaces like these. Often people look to preserve landscapes, but sometimes protecting wildlife can be even more crucial. When you think about the Leave No Trace Principle "Respect Wildlife," try and imagine it as an overall goal. More than just not feeding wildlife and avoiding encroachment upon their space, this principle also encompasses preserving their habitat for them when you go into the outdoors. Think about dead trees that are still standing, or snags, which can be used as homes for animals when collecting firewood. Think about campsite selection near water sources that can affect wildlife drinking behavior for days. Think about the role old animal bones or antlers play in wildlife nutrition as sources of calcium or vitamins and why that's an important reason to Leave What You Find. In the Dakotas, the majesty of the bison drive home the importance of Respecting Wildlife, but every time you go outside to explore you are visiting animals' habitats. So think about that next time you're on a hike, bike, drive, or paddle!

On a Buffalo,

Quinn & Frank

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