Creating Responsibly While Outdoors

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Welcome Hikers,

Today I want to discuss a coalition that was created during the pandemic. The Recreate Responsibly Coalition.

According to their mission statement on their website, “The Recreate Responsibly Coalition aspires for everyone to have a holistic outdoor experience by advancing all aspects of responsible recreation: keeping yourself, others, and outdoor places safe; accessing outdoor benefits essential to the human experience; and building an inclusive outdoors.”  This happens to directly align with the principles I’m establishing with Plein Air Hiking.

To do this, representatives from REI Co-op, the Outdoor Alliance, and the Washington Trails Association convened outdoor industry, conservation, and land management experts to address concerns and opportunities that accompanied increased visitation to natural spaces during the pandemic and the Recreate Responsibly Coalition and Campaign was born.

With the campaigns they are collaboratively emboldening a shared land ethic, rooted in equity, that seeks to honor Indigenous land & water rights, with a sense of stewardship & oneness with our natural surroundings that nurture and enliven us

Before we discuss the creator’s edition of Recreate responsibly, let’s gather around the campfire to share a story.

We’ve discussed Know Before You Go, or Plan Ahead and Prepare, from the Leave No Trace Principles. Recreate Responsibly includes Leave No Trace principles and expanded the know before you go and plan ahead and prepare principles.

Recently California has had some extreme weather and that has caused conditions in the mountains to be extremely dangerous for even experienced hikers. Search and rescue teams have responded to 14 rescues on the 10,068-foot  Mount Baldy and the surrounding area in the past month. 

Officials stated that the poor weather, coupled with dangerous avalanche conditions, has had a significant impact on rescue operations. Even the most experienced hikers are urged to heed all posted warning signs and keep in mind that the recent storms have produced unfavorable hiking conditions on the mountain.

It is up to each and everyone one of us to actively mitigate the risks involved when we participate in outdoor activities. Knowing before you go and planning ahead and preparing are key to helping us mitigate and manage risks.

Now let’s look at how we can all Create Responsibly while outdoors.

You can find the primary edition of the principles here.  The campaign I want to cover is the creator’s edition.

Create Responsibly is a campaign that covers all creative endeavors and therefore some principles may seem out of scope for plein air hiking. As you read through some of the principles you may find that they have been created with large-scale operations, such as on-location filming in mind. Think about how those same principles can be scaled and perhaps applied to your activities or how you can help local operations apply those principles so we all create responsibly.

Know Before You Go

Research and contact the location well in advance. 

Permits may be required and take time to process.

Check for weather and hazards prior to arrival.

Talk to land managers & local film/tourism commissions

Consider “under-visited” locations to limit your impact

Plan And Prepare

The outdoors can be a high-risk environment with conditions that quickly change.

Consider terrain & arrange adequate transportation

Know and understand drone “no-fly zones”

Try to film near your vehicle(s)

Bring plenty of water and safety equipment

Build An Inclusive Outdoors

Inspire others to see themselves in that space. Historically, access to the outdoors has been inequitable- we can change that.

Consider the historic inhabitants of the land.

Showcase all backgrounds and abilities.

Embrace different meanings of “outdoors”

Celebrate the many ways people connect with nature.

Respect Others

Minimize impacts to others’ outdoor experiences.

Avoid blocking trails, vistas, or byways.

Give space to people recreating or working.

Think about how your presence impacts the space.

Try to blend in with the landscape if possible.

Leave No Trace

Respect the land, water, wildlife, and Native and local communities.

Follow the seven Leave No Trace principles.

Always avoid sensitive habitats.

Consider the impact of disclosing specific locations.

Use your art to educate: showcase responsible use.

Make It Better

Inspire respect & caring for outdoor spaces.

Depict responsible recreation in action.

Provide characters with attributes that tie work, play, or culture to the outdoors.

Create behind-the-scenes content to celebrate your backdrop and sustainable practices.

As you can see some of these principles may apply to other creators but it’s always good to be informed. 

What can you do next?

You can download the toolkit here and take the pledge found at the bottom of the page here

As always feel free to reply with any comments or questions you have on this topic and others. 

See you on the trail,