Learn to ‘leave no trace’ while enjoying outdoors

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By Eryn Worthington

YANKEETOWN — Two teams of professional mentors are traveling the United States in efforts to preserve the outdoors.

Naturalist and educator Susan Pratt will conduct two free “Leave No Trace” training sessions at 10 a.m. today and Feb. 9 at the Withlacoochee Gulf Preserve, 1001 Old Rock Road, Yankeetown.

Leave No Trace is a nonprofit organization instructing individuals of all ages how to enjoy recreation in the outdoors

“Our population is growing and we are running out of wilderness,” Pratt said. “If we don’t take better care of our available wilderness there will be none for the future generations.”

The family-friendly program helps individuals develop practices that reduce the impact of their presence in parks, refuges and preserves. They encourage people to leave these locales in the same condition or better than when they arrived.

Seven principles will be taught through interactive activities that will encourage participation in indoor and outdoor settings. Their goal is to raise awareness of people’s impact on the environment when they enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, camping, boating, hunting or fishing.

“Our parks have become so popular,” Pratt said. “If we don’t learn the seven principles on how to preserve them, nothing will change.”

The seven principles that Leave No Trace highlights are:

1. Plan ahead and prepare.

2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces.

3. Dispose of waste properly.

4. Leave what you find.

5. Minimize campfire impacts.

6. Respect wildlife.

7. Be considerate of other visitors.

Reservations are suggested but not required. For details, call 352-447-5439 or visit www.withlacoocheegulfpreserve.com.

WHO: Withlacoochee Gulf Preserve.
WHAT: Leave No Trace.
WHEN: 10 a.m. today and Feb. 9.
WHERE: 1001 Old Rock Road, Yankeetown.
COST: Free.
INFO: 352-447-5439 or www.withlacoocheegulfpreserve.com.

Contact Chronicle reporter Eryn Worthington at 352-563-5660, ext. 1334, or eworthington@chronicleonline.com.