A lesson in 'leave no trace' camping - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

A lesson in 'leave no trace' camping

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

It's a traveling workshop that packs everything anyone who enjoys the great outdoors would need to know into just one class.

"It is a common sense based program where we have seven principles that help guide people to make good decisions in the outdoors to keep themselves safe and then also protect the world around them," said Tracy Howard, a Subaru Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer.

Two of the trainers joined forces with the Winooski Valley Park District to share those principles focused on respecting wildlife, preparing for the outdoors and being considerate of others.

"Having 18 parks throughout Chittenden County, we really focus a lot on getting people outdoors, so one of the things we've really ramped up this year is getting people to understand how to interact with people while they're out at that park," said Ashley Eaton, a Winooski Valley Park District Environmental Educator.

The workshop focused on leaving nature just as you find it, cleaning up after camping and keeping a good distance away from wildlife for your safety -- and theirs.

Leave No Trace has been traveling around the U.S. for years spreading their message. They say that visitation to national parks has increased from 33 million in 1950 to 287 million in 2000, and even the smallest things that we leave behind could have the biggest impact.

Orange peels take up to two years to decompose. Aluminum cans take up to 80 years. And fishing wire can take up to 500 years.  "Some of the materials break down in a much longer period than even I thought and so it just reinforces my idea that we really need to pick everything up," said Jim Gorman, who attended Sunday's workshop.

The free workshop aims to make even the smallest difference in the way people think when out in the woods. And even for the most experienced, there was a lesson to be learned. "Be considerate of the land itself and not walk around that mud puddle -- which I most times do. Walk through it to minimize the impact on that area," Gorman said.

The trainers hope to return to Vermont during the summer. But in the meantime campers can their part  by planning ahead and leaving nature just as they found it.

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