Appalachian Trail – Leave No Trace
So you’re thinking of hiking the Appalachian Trail. Three words to remember: “Leave No Trace.” I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
Marion: They see a movie like ‘A Walk in the Woods’ and they say “I want to go do that”. And with hardly any nights of camping under their belt, off they go.
Research Biologist Jeff Marion is an adjunct professor at Virginia Tech.
Marion: And so that’s one of the big challenges that we have in managing the Appalachian Trail is how do we bring these folks to a higher level of understanding? How we teach them how to be competent outdoors people so that we’re not out rescuing people and trying to teach them ‘leave no trace’ practices three weeks into a five-month long hike. It’s a big challenge for us every year in the Appalachian Trail community to try to finesse that problem.
The visitors themselves have an obligation, a responsibility really, to lessen the impact of their individual visits. If the don’t, what will happen? We’ll have more bears that need to be killed because they’ve become food attracted because these visitors haven’t stored their food properly. We’ll have more impacts on the trail and that will lead managers to issue more regulations on visitation. For example, forcing visitors to carry bear canisters instead of hanging their food in trees.
So visitors can dramatically improve their knowledge of outdoor practices and low-impact camping and hiking practices by just learning a few things. You can Google search ‘leave no trace’ and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s own website has a large section devoted to low-impact practices. Both the resource conditions and the social conditions can improve if people will adopt these ‘leave no trace’ practices.
Good advice for anyone taking a walk in the woods. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.