Nature Discovery with Renée! Outdoor Adventure Tips

Time for an adventure this week with Librarian Renée! Today’s Nature Discovery blog will feature tips on how to make the most while leaving the least on your next outdoor adventure as well as fun activities for all!

At times like these I find it helpful to find the bright side or silver lining to the situation.  What positive can I find in my current circumstance? One thing that I have really appreciated about the Stay at Home order, fewer cars on the roads! It will be interesting to see what impact this is having on our air quality. The skies seem clearer and the air smells sweeter, but that could also be because it’s spring and I am thrilled to be outdoors! And, clearly, I am not alone!

As a matter of fact, I am noticeably not alone. As someone who is often on our trails, regardless of season or temperature, the increased usage is impressive. Isn’t it wonderful that we always have nature to return to and that here in Lafayette and surrounding communities, we have amazing trails systems connecting us to the natural world? Another Silver Lining!

Since more of us are heading outdoors to get some much needed stress relief and Vitamin D, I think this week is the perfect time to talk about Leave No Trace principles, LNT.

The ideas of LNT are simple! The analogy I use with school groups on hikes is this, imagine you are going to a friends house or having a friend over for a play date.  If you had a friend over to your house, of course you would share your toys, but you wouldn’t want them to be destroyed and or taken when they leave. Or if you shared a snack, you wouldn’t want your friend to leave a huge mess for you to clean up later. When you are exploring the natural world, you are like a friend over for a play date. Have fun! Explore! But be a good house guest!

What are ways that we can be a good “house guest” when we are on the trails? 

  • First, and so very important, stay on trail! I use the example of taking your shoes off when you come inside. This simple strategy helps to keep our floors clean and extends the life of our flooring. The same is true for our trail systems.  Staying on trail keeps the surrounding vegetation and wildlife safe. The Open Spaces and Mountain Parks in Boulder see more than 3 million visitors a year!  Imagine what Boulder would look like if no one stayed on trail.
  • Second, clean up after yourself.  Every playdate ends a little happier if everyone helps in the clean up!  When on trails that means not only not leaving your trash behind, but cleaning up after our pets. Why is it important to pick up after our pets? Isn’t it natural? There are a few things to remember about our pets.  First, most of our pets’ diets are full of preservatives. Even preservatives that are not harmful to our pets can have an impact on vegetation. These preservatives leach into the soil and when it rains, get washed into our water system. Second, we have way more dogs and cats than wild predators in the area and that means they are producing a ton of waste. Actually, tons of waste. Across the United States, dogs produce 10.6 million tons of waste annually! Check out this interesting study from City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks, Dog Owner Perceptions and Behaviors.
  • My third and last LNT tip is this, take only pictures, leave only memories. Share that beautiful wildflower, interesting bug, or cool rock in a picture! Just like you would with a sunset. That beautiful wildflower might provide a bee’s next meal. That interesting bug could be the next meal for that meadowlark. And that rock could be the home of any important organism that helps feed the wildflower. They are all part of an important system. Enjoy and share their beauty with a lasting photo! Want to up your photo skills? Check out: Digital Photo eMagazine

If you would like to read more about the LNT principles, check out the Leave No Trace website!

Now, who’s ready for an adventure?!  Check out these fun activities courtesy of Open Space and Mountain Parks.

Until next week, go have an adventure!

– Renée

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