The great outdoors, a place of peace and respite for some and a place for adventure and exploration for others. Whichever choice of outdoor activity you prefer, it is important to recreate responsibly. The Carlsbad area has a plethora of outdoor opportunities, for novice and extreme outdoors activities. Two National Parks, the Guadalupe Mountains National Park (GUMO), the Carlsbad Caverns National Park (CAVE), The Lincoln National Forest, Guadalupe Ranger District, and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) combined provide hundreds of thousands of acreage for recreation in the local geographic area. With the availability of public lands, the public has a civic responsibility to help care for these locations. Memorial Day weekend proved to be a popular time torecreate outdoors. Over the weekend about 3000 visitors went to Sitting Bull Falls in the Lincoln National Forest, prompting it to close due to the amount of trash and waste left behind.There are some basic tips for going outside to help you be prepared, they are the seven principles of Leave No Trace. These principles include: 1. plan ahead and prepare, be sure to research the area you are going to visit and plan out what you will need for the activity you are going to do. 2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces, it is important to stay on trails and leave as little impact on the land as possible. 3. Dispose of waste properly, take any trash you produce with you. 4. Leave what you find, do not remove any cultural items, rocks, or vegetation. 5. Minimizecampfire impacts, know if campfires are allowed where you are going. If they are, lessen the impacts of the campfire by knowing how to build, maintain, and put out a campfire properly. 6. Respect wildlife, give wildlife a wide berth, observe from afar, and secure your food and garbage.7. Be considerate of other visitors, show courtesy to fellow outdoor adventurers by moving aside on a narrow trail when hiking down for those hiking up, wear neutral colored clothing, keep pets under control, and keep noisedown so that others may enjoy the sounds of nature. You can learn more about each of these principles by visitingwww.lnt.orgLaura Rabon, MA, PMP, Public Affairs Officer for the Forest Service, Lincoln National Forest shared the following,“National Forests across the country are seeing record visitation as people seek reprieve from quarantine and states lift stay-at-home orders. The high number of visitors can put stress on popular sites. It’s wonderful people want to use their public lands and visit these beautiful places, but some spots run the risk of being loved to death.”Rabon adds, “These are public lands. It belongs to all of us and it’s important they not fall prey to the “Tragedy of the Commons”whereindividual users behave contrary to the common good and inadvertently ruin the place for everyone, including themselves. We have the opportunity, and a responsibility, to leave our National Forests and Parks better than when we found them by doing simple, but impactful tasks, like picking up all our trash when we leave and burying human waste at least 6-8 inches deep. Here on the Guadalupe Ranger District we have only three recreation staff members to cover288,540acres of land. They do an excellentjob, but we need the public’s help to keep this forest clean.”Elizabeth Jackson,Chief of Interpretation, Education and Visitor Services, and Public Information Officer (PIO) for Guadalupe Mountains National Park shared that GUMO is currently closed and they are working towards opening up again.“Guadalupe Mountains National park rangers remain on duty and continue to work in the park on park projects, even as services are closed to the public. When the park opens and services resume Guadalupe MountainsNational Park urges visitors to: park only in designated areas, pack out everything you bring in, maintain 6 ft (2 m) social distance from others, stay on marked trails for safety, and be prepared for limited, or no access, to restrooms and other facilities. Please check our current conditions and park status for the latest information atwww.nps.gov/gumo.”
The National Park Service has a new hashtag that can be included on your social media posts, encouraging responsible outdoor enjoyment. #RecreateResponsiblyRecently, Keep Carlsbad Beautiful hosted its annual Riverblitz. Community members come together during this event to clean up along the Pecos River. This year a record 5.9 tons of trash were collected. The community spreads out along the river in town, and goes from Brantley to 6 mile dam among many other locations. Executive Director for Keep Carlsbad Beautiful, Mary Garwood shared the following, “It’s unfortunate when littering and illegal dumping occurs in our towns to start with, but it seems to be all the more unfortunate for it to happen in our wilderness spots.Our natural areasare places of refuge for animals in their own habitat and to taint them with our careless and unnecessary waste is a shame. Keep Carlsbad Beautiful strives for folks to recognize the importance of preserving these and all places for folks to visit and enjoy. Nobody wants to spend a day hiking on a littered trail or fishing in a spot where debris is prominent compromising the ecosystem and aesthetics of the waterfront. Packing out what we take in is the responsibility of us all who enjoy the outdoors and shows a huge respect for our fellow man.”It is up to each one of us who enjoys going outdoors to leave it better than we found it by following the 7 principles of Leave No Trace. Be sure to check for updates on closures, fire restrictions, and vital travel information before visiting your desired destination. Websites and official social media pages are the best places to get information regarding the status of the park or location you wish to visit.