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Conservation
January 04, 2024
Practicing Responsible Recreation with Pennsylvania Environmental Council
Rachael Stark
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DiscoverNEPA is partnering with Pennsylvania Environmental Council, a nonprofit that protects and restores the natural and built environments to improve the quality of life for all Pennsylvanians. Keep an eye on this series for updates on PEC projects, volunteer opportunities, Tail on the Trail activities and so much more.

New Year, New You! Make it a Priority to Recreate Responsibly in 2024.

Northeastern Pennsylvania is known for its stunning waterways, picturesque landscapes, and an abundance of outdoor recreational activities. From the majestic Pocono Mountains to the tranquil shores of Lake Wallenpaupack, the region offers endless activities for adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts alike; such as white water rafting, waterfall ice hiking, gravel riding, and other opportunities that are distinctive to the region. However, with this privilege comes a great responsibility to practice responsible recreation – here are some ways you can do your part.

 

Leave No Trace

 

 

The principles of Leave No Trace emerged in the 90s in response to a US Forest Service campaign that recognized the need for a standard guideline for responsible recreation. Simply put, Leave No Trace encourages visitors to leave the outdoors better than they found it, and they offer 7 principles to help do so: Plan Ahead & Prepare, Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces, Dispose of Waste Properly, Leave What You Find, Minimize Campfire Impact, Respect Wildlife, and Be Considerate of Others. Some examples of proper LNT practices might include packing out trash (including any waste from your dog), keeping your distance from wildlife, and opting for the solo stove instead of a fire during your camping trip. By adhering to these principles, you can help to ensure that the beauty of Pennsylvania’s wilderness remains unspoiled for years to come.

 

Support Local Conservation Efforts

 

 

Maintaining trails is a team effort and there are numerous organizations dedicated to preserving Pennsylvania’s natural resources. Consider donating your time, funds, or skills to these local conservation efforts. Volunteers are always needed to maintain trails, build new paths, restore wilderness, and assist with educational activities. By participating in volunteer days, joining local advocacy groups, and supporting eco-tourism initiatives you can greatly contribute to the sustainability of PA’s outdoor recreational destinations.

 

Practice Proper Trail Etiquette

 

 

Pennsylvania boasts an extensive network of trails that cater to hikers, bikers, horseback riders, and cross-country skiers. Practicing proper trail etiquette goes a long way toward keeping our trails clean, safe and enjoyable for everyone. Consider learning about right of ways so you can properly yield to other users, having awareness of your surroundings, and keeping the music to a headphone to help those that prefer the sound of the birds. Sharing the trail also offers a unique opportunity to connect with others, so make sure to say hello!

 

Educate Yourself and Others

 

 

Educating yourself about the natural and cultural history of Pennsylvania will enhance your appreciation and enable you to become a responsible advocate for its protection. Share your knowledge with others and respectfully engage in conversation that encourages responsible behavior.

Lastly, be patient. Since 2020, many new users have taken to the outdoors in ways that are different from how you may enjoy it. It’s easy to become frustrated and to assume that visitors should know better, but a little kind connection can go a long way. At the end of the day, we all adventure to the outdoors to connect – whether it is with nature, others, or ourselves – and the world needs more of that.