Learning to enjoy nature without leaving mark

It’s not too late to preserve nature for wildlife and future generations if people learn to minimize their impact outdoors.

It’s not too late to preserve nature for wildlife and future generations if people learn to minimize their impact outdoors.

The nonprofit Leave No Trace Canada has taken the lead to educate anyone involved in non-motorized sports in the Alberta’s scenic backcountry.

The seven-principle philosophy to help save the outdoors was developed by the United States forestry department in the early 1960s, for a country where some natural areas have been spoiled.

“There’s a lot of places in the U.S. where they won’t let people go anymore. It’s been trampled down so much there’s no undergrowth in certain forests,” said Debbie Vanberkel, Leave No Canada master trainer and past chairman.

“We don’t want to get to that point. We’re known around the world for having this gorgeous backcountry. If we help it now, we’ll be so much better off.”

Kerry Wood Nature Centre had to cancel it’s first Leave No Trace Workshop on Saturday due to low enrolment.

Todd Nivens, the centre’s program co-ordinator, said the outdoor ethics promoted by Leave No Trace is “vitally important” and another workshop could be planned for the fall if people are interested.

“When we use the backcountry, we’re visitors to the backcountry,” Nivens said.

“As much as we don’t want people coming into our own places and yards making a mess and impacting on us, we need to recognize the animals and plants that live in the backcountry year round need that resource available to them.”

Vanberkel, of Calgary, said simple things can make a difference, like reducing the area where people walk. It’s an activity she’s seen change the landscape near a picnic area next to the Kananaskis River.

“Over the years, I’ve noticed that the whole embankment has eroded away from people just going down there and washing their dishes. Now nature is taking over as the Kananaskis River goes through there. It’s eroding even more.”

“That kind of impact may seem so small, but it’s going to grow and become huge.”

The seven principles of Leave No Trace include:

l Plan ahead and prepare.

l Travel and camp on durable surfaces.

l Dispose of waste properly.

l Leave what you find.

l Minimize campfire impacts.

l Respect wildlife.

l Be considerate of other visitors.

One of Vanberkel’s favourite outdoor workshop exercises is to get participants to plot surveying flags where they would dig a latrine holes.

“It really becomes a visual impact for people. Looking at the flags, seeing the impact of that size of a group being out there with no latrine in the area.”

There are ways to minimize the impact if there’s no pre-built latrine, like taking their used toilet paper with them, she said.

“We call them white paper flowers because you see them when you’re out there. You see them all over the place.”

Leave No Trace is not about strict rules, but rather learning what kind of footprint is left by hikers, campers, skiers, canoeists and drivers when they dismount their ATVs, Vanberkel said.

“You do one principle, you’re doing great. If you do two, that’s fantastic. If you do more, that’s even better. You don’t have to do them all. Doing one is going to help.”

For more information, go to www.leavenotrace.ca

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

BREAKING: Delburne man found not guilty in connection with 2016 fatal rollover

Daniel Wayne Newsham had been on trial for manslaughter

Loan officer accused of $1 million fraud to plead guilty

Accused allegedly forged customer names to get loans while working at Sylvan Lake bank

Red Deer to get new plan to end homelessness as problem persists

Despite some successes there’s ‘a long way to go,’ says manager

‘A stronger Alberta:’ Ottawa announces $1.6B for Canada’s oil and gas sector

Ottawa is spending $1.6 billion to help struggling energy companies stay afloat,… Continue reading

Canada ranks 16th on World Economic Forum’s annual gender gap list

TORONTO — Canada has landed the 16th spot in the World Economic… Continue reading

Chabot scores overtime winner to lift Senators over Predators 4-3

OTTAWA — Thomas Chabot saw an opening and he took it. And… Continue reading

Canadian Marielle Thompson earns World Cup ski cross bronze in season opener

AROSA, Switzerland — Canada’s Marielle Thompson captured bronze at the opening World… Continue reading

Canada doesn’t make Oscars short list for best foreign language film

LOS ANGELES — Canada is no longer in the running for best… Continue reading

Warrant issued for arrest of ‘Schwimmer lookalike’ suspect

LONDON — A British judge has issued an arrest warrant for an… Continue reading

Moneywise: Canadian workers unhappy with pay, want pension plans

Many working Canadians are feeling underpaid and are so worried about their… Continue reading

Brazil police say faith healer has turned himself in

RIO DE JANEIRO — A celebrity faith healer accused of sexually abusing… Continue reading

B.C. hockey coach creates ‘gear library’ to remove cost barrier of sport

VANCOUVER — Nicola Froese says she has always loved playing sports, but… Continue reading

Canada’s Kim McRae finishes seventh at luge World Cup in Lake Placid, N.Y.

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — Canada’s Kim McRae finished in seventh place at… Continue reading

Most Read