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Deer and duck seasons are in full swing, and thousands of Arkansans are heading outdoors in hopes of bagging a big one. Unfortunately, some hunters and fishers are leaving behind a mess. From soda bottles and snack wrappers to fishing line and shell casings, even small messes add up to big impact. Whether participating in recreation on your own land, a friend’s land or public land, it is important to leave as little trace of your presence as possible, the belief behind the “Leave No Trace” campaign in Arkansas.
I recently toured the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge with several Fish and Wildlife Service employees. As we boated through Bayou de View, I couldn’t help but notice a fair bit of trash in certain areas. The service employees mentioned struggles with hunters and fishers leaving trash when they pack up to go home and that groups like Arkansas Watertrails Partnership and Friends of the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge have to host regular cleanup events to help combat the problem. We all agreed that education is key and that while they appreciate the cleanup efforts, the problem can be solved by individual hunters and fishers.
In order for outdoor enthusiasts to continue enjoying nature, we must protect and conserve what we have. “Leave No Trace” is a set of seven principles that remind all of us to leave a minimal impact on the areas we visit. The seven principles include planning and preparing ahead, traveling and camping on durable surfaces, disposing of waste properly, leaving what is found, minimizing campfire impacts, respecting wildlife, and being considerate of other visitors.
None of the concepts involve difficult tasks, yet they can help protect wildlife and the environment. If we regularly follow the principles, we can protect animals, prevent forest fires and erosion, prevent pollution, and keep areas in good shape for the enjoyment of future generations.
1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
3. Dispose of Waste Properly
4. Leave What Is Found
5. Minimize Campfire Impact
6. Respect Wildlife
7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
As you head out into the woods this fall and winter, enjoy your hunting and fishing trips. When you leave the woods behind, glance over your shoulder and make sure you’ve left everything in great condition. Even better, leave the woods in better shape than it was when you arrived. Help protect The Natural State, so her forests, rivers and lakes are there for generations to come by pledging to “leave no trace” of your presence.
For more information on Leave No Trace visit the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics
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