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Leave No Trace Training on Econfina Creek video

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Members of the Panhandle Chapter of the Florida Trail Association joined FTA staff and Leave No Trace instructor Janet Herrick for a scenic hike along the Econfina Creek, Florida. We met at the Scott Rd Trailhead to sort food and gear for a backpacking trip and Leave No Trace training. We drove to start the hike near the Two Penny Bridge. We hiked about 4 miles south along the Econfina Creek to camp overnight and to continue LNT instruction. The course resumed the next morning and we hiked further south to our exit point at the Walsingham Bridge, where we shuttled back to the original starting location of the hike.

Participants learned about Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics, became more confident backpackers, and got instruction on responsible recreational travel through a variety of environments. Upon completion of the course, students will receive a certification as a Leave No Trace Trainer and will be able to host Leave No Trace Awareness courses for others. This event was intended for hikers of all experience levels. Food and camp equipment such as a cooking stove was provided by FTA Staff. See FTA at www.floridatrail.org, F-Troop site at www.f-troop.org, Leave No Trace at www.lnt.org and the Panhandle chapter at www.meetup.com/hiking-central-panhandle/events/48299622/. See all Florida Trail pages on wholeo.net.

This video follows hikers through the winter scenery while Janet's voice tells why Leave No Trace was needed, how it got started and what are the basic principles. The need came from managers of state parks, national parks, national forests, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management. It has evolved to apply to backcountry, frontcountry and special requirements of regions.

Here's a transcript of the audio in the movie.

Caroling says, “This is Janet, our fearless leader. I'm taking movies.”

Janet says, “I love it. Welcome to the Leave No Trace 2012 at Econfina Creek.

“The movement started in the 60s with the idea for cohesive outdoor education outreach. With the hippies and the back to nature movement a lot of people wanted to get outside. There were four types of land managers (such as parks and forests). Two things happened. One, there was a real desire to get back to nature with the hippie movement. Two, there was an increase in technology, which allowed people to get to places where they normally couldn't get before without mules and a sherpa. With the advent of things like nylon people could go a lot further away from the trail and have a more pristine experience. That created a lot of problems basically among the managers that weren't used to people being on their property. Literally the Forest Service just had forest rangers on it. Actual forest land was just that. People were going to the forests because it is our land. Unless there is something specific about it, we really get to camp on those lands without a permit The managers said no no, this is our property, this is like private property. No no no it's not. So there were a lot of run-ins with people and the managers. The biggest problem for the managers is that people were going in and doing an enormous amount of damage to the ecosystem. They were starting fires and burning down the forest, which was the natural resource. Without trees to manage a lot of forest personnel were out of work.

“Fast forward to the 70s, the park service finally said to all the other managers, we need to get together and figure out how to get a message to the people. First they individually tried to say “No, you can't do this”. The natural human response is “Oh, yes, we can.” So there was a lot of this going on. Second of all, when the individual managers developed their own system of how they wanted people to behave, when a person would go from say from one type, like from forest service to park service, it wasn't the same message. So a person would say “Well the Bureau of Land Management says I can do this” and get the answer “you can't do that here”. There was an inconsistency in message. Finally all the managers looked to the park service to come up with a solution. The park service went to NOLS, The National Outdoor Leadership School in Lander, Wyoming. NOLS developed a program for outdoor ethics. But the program they had was 30 days long. It was a way to teach the managers how to not negatively impact the land. It's not practical for a consumer base. NOLS worked with the park service to develop something called Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, which officially launched in 1994. It was 7 principles about how to be outdoors without negatively impacting it.

“It depends. In Florida a lot of hard and fast rules that don't fit the national model. For instance one of them involves where do you go to the bathroom. Ideally you'd walk 200 feet away from a water source. Well in Florida if you walk 200 feet from a water source you probably are going to be right next to another water source. So again, it all depends on what's going on. Rules are specific to regions. The best practice is to follow common sense for the place you are in to your best ability to do it. If you fail, you don't get a ticket from the LNT police. You just try harder the next time. That's why we call the one-hour workshop an awareness workshop. What we are embarking on is an overnight trainer course. At the end of it, you will learn how to give a one-hour workshop on these principles in brief and be able to * people. We are doing what's called backcountry hiking, which is what LNT was originally designed for. But most people are frontcountry, like day visitors or car campers. It still should be part of their world and best practices for being outdoors.

“Today each person who is teaching the principles is really just starting a conversation that we'll all continue.”

Leave No Trace logo swirls suggest that you go in one side, (the outdoors), enjoy your experience (the center dot), and then come out again without leaving a trace.

Video © 2012 Caroling

See Econfina Creek background info on the 2008 page, Econfina 2012 or the Leave No Trace trip.

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