Contact: Jason Lederer, Summit County Open Space & Trails
SUMIT COUNTY – Governor Polis has proclaimed Aug. 31 - Sept. 7 “Colorado Recreates Responsibly Week.” The Colorado Department of Natural Resources, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and Colorado Tourism Office are working alongside the National Park Service and other land managers and recreation organizations throughout Colorado to encourage conservation and an outdoor ethic as a vital part of outdoor recreation. Throughout the week, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is asking Coloradans to show conservation in action while spending time outside and tag #CareForColorado and #RecreateResponsibly hashtags and @COParksWildlife.
“Outdoor recreation is the largest economic driver for Summit County,” said Open Space and Trails Senior Resource Specialist Jason Lederer. “The COVID-19 pandemic has led to record visitation on our trails, trailheads, and open spaces, and highlights the need for the facilities our program and partners manage. Many people may be visiting public lands in Summit County for the first time and we want to remind them to follow ‘Leave No Trace Principles’ to protect these special places.”
Leave No Trace is a set of outdoor ethics promoting conservation in the outdoors. Its seven principals include; 1) Planning ahead and preparing, 2) travelling and camping on durable surfaces such as established trails and campsites, 3) disposing of waste properly including all trash, pet, and human waste – try to use the bathroom before you head out for a hike, 4) leaving what you find and minimizing impacts, such as building lean-tos, digging trenches, and collecting items without a permit, 5) respecting wildlife by limiting interaction and observing from a safe distance, as well as keeping pets under strict control with a leash and voice command, 6) being considerate of other visitors by practicing proper etiquette, 7) and minimizing campfire impacts, especially during this historic wildfire season in Colorado.
“Outdoor recreation is a huge part of each of our lives in Summit County,” said Open Space and Trails Director Brian Lorch. “When the pandemic led to the ski areas closing in mid-March, we worked hard to meet the ongoing recreational needs of our community by plowing the Recpath system several weeks early, bringing on our seasonal field crew as early as possible to ensure our facilities were ready to go for the summer season, and coordinating closely with our land management partners at the towns, Forest Service, and elsewhere to ensure we were prepared to meet anticipated needs and demand.”
One of the greatest challenges during these unprecedented times is maintaining safe public facilities for everybody to enjoy responsibly. Summit County wants to remind users to respect trails and open space detours and closures, stay on designated trails and routes, park only in designated areas, follow Recpath rules, regulations, and etiquette, pick up after your dog, and manage your waste responsibly. The #CareForColorado campaign aims to educate Coloradans and visitors to balance outdoor recreation with mindful conservation to preserve Colorado’s landscapes and outdoor heritage throughout the week leading to the Labor Day holiday. The campaign mimics the Leave No Trace ethic by sharing a specific principle each day of the week to ensure that those who are newer to outdoor recreation in the state, or those trying new activities and discovering new locations who may need a reminder, to follow Care for Colorado principles.
“There are endless opportunities to use and appreciate public lands in Summit County,” said Lederer. “With the help of our local community and visitors, we can enjoy these places responsibility while preserving them for others to enjoy in the future.”
While Governor Polis has issued the Colorado Recreates Responsibly Week proclamation, it’s important to #CareForColorado every day of the year. As Summit County and Colorado as a whole offers unparalleled year round outdoor experiences, caring for the land, water, and wildlife must remain a part of all outdoor activities to ensure this outdoor lifestyle can be shared with generations to come.