New Leave No Trace Care for Colorado Principles aim to inspire visitors to travel like locals |

New Leave No Trace Care for Colorado Principles aim to inspire visitors to travel like locals

As the leaves turn this autumn, many people are taking to the trails to hike around and get closer to nature’s display of color. Although hiking seems pretty simple, the Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) and the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics wants to make sure that everyone is enjoying the outdoors while also following a set of principles aimed at guiding travelers to show care for the state’s water, land and wildlife while helping protect special Colorado places.

“Our take on the classic Leave No Trace Seven Principles are a direct response to the heartfelt concerns many Coloradans express about the impacts of visitation on the places they love,” said CTO Director Cathy Ritter. “By sharing these Care for Colorado Principles, we can empower travelers to join us in protecting the very qualities that attracted them to visit our state in the first place.”

“Colorado’s unparalleled natural resources deserve the highest level of protection, and Leave No Trace provides easy, doable solutions that make a real difference in preserving natural areas,” said Dana Watts, executive director of Leave No Trace. “We are thrilled to be launching these principles with the CTO and hope to reach millions through this important partnership.”

Locally, Walking Mountains Science Center promotes the Leave No Trace Seven Principles on all their hikes as a way to teach newcomers and remind experienced hikers what is appropriate out on the trail. We joined up with Haley Baker, a backcountry interpretive guide and Peter Sunenson, community programs manager with Walking Mountains to do today’s interview about ways to preserve the trails at Meadow Mountain recently.

While we were there, a couple walked down the trail and saw us and were curious as to what we were filming. We told them and immediately they told us of how they left their apple core up there “in case the deer want to eat it.” Even though they thought their intentions were good, they didn’t realize that deer don’t typically eat apple cores and it will take at least a month for it to decompose. Orange peels can take up to 6 months. The Leave No Trace Seven Principles’ goal is to encourage the state’s 82 million visitors to be active stewards of Colorado’s precious natural resources and cultural artifacts. Here’s a look at the seven principles:

Leave No Trace – Care For Colorado Principles:

Know Before You Go

• Our state and federal agencies manage 42 percent of Colorado’s majestic landscape. Learn about and respect the spaces we all own and share.
• Find your way to less-visited and off-peak destinations to minimize down time and maximize your connection with special places.
• Bring along reusable water bottles to limit waste and stay hydrated.

Stick To Trails

• With 39,000 marked trails and 13,000 designated campsites, there’s no need to venture beyond. By sticking to these areas and camping at least 200 feet from lakes, rivers and streams, you’re helping natural areas stay natural.
• Please don’t take shortcuts. Stay on designated paths.

Trash the Trash

• Pack it in, pack it out. Put litter, even crumbs, peels and cores in your nearest waste/recycling bin.
• Wash yourself, your dog, etc., at least 200 feet from waterways, and use biodegradable soap to protect aquatic life.

Leave It As You Find It

• Leave plants, rocks and historical items as you find them so others experience the joy of discovery.
• Any of our 750 different species of wildflowers will live forever in a photo. Please do not pick the flowers.
• Colorado is beautiful all on its own. Building structures or campsites on public land isn’t cool. Keep it pristine for everyone to enjoy.
• Treat all living things with respect. Carving or hacking plants and trees may kill or disfigure them.

Be Careful With Fire

• Keep campfires small and manageable to avoid sparking wildfires.
• When putting out a fire, water it until you can handle the embers. Never let a fire burn unattended.
• Use care when smoking. Always put cigarettes out completely, and don’t leave your butts behind.

Keep Wildlife Wild

• Colorado is home to tens of thousands of furry, scaly and feathered creatures. To keep them – and you – safe, don’t approach them.
• Please do not feed wild animals. You could alter natural behaviors, exposing them to predators or even euthanasia.
• Keep your furry buddies leashed when enjoying dog-friendly trails, and pack out their waste. All the way to a trashcan.

Share Our Trails & Parks

• Chances are you’re not out in nature to people watch, so try out the lesser-known paths and sites.
• Silence your cell phone before stepping into nature, and speak softly without using the speaker function.
• Be considerate when passing others on the trails and yield to the uphill hiker and biker – they need the momentum.
• Listen to nature. Keep your voice and music soft so all can enjoy the peace of Colorado.

Learn more about the Leave No Trace Care for Colorado Principles on

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