Outdoor NC offers tips on best practices for enjoying the great outdoors
During the years of the global pandemic, more people than ever have sought to get outside and have outdoor recreation. North Carolina saw an influx of first-time explorers, many ill-equipped with the tools to interact with nature in ways that minimize their footprint.
Recognizing this need for outdoor education, Visit North Carolina and the NC Outdoor Recreation Industry Office turned to the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics to form a partnership focused on the sustainable use of mountains, beaches and others vast natural areas of the state Outdoor NC. This online resource aims to promote the state’s nature tourism and provide tips on best practices so it can be enjoyed to the full for many years to come. This is the first Leave No Trace program on the east coast.
“Preserving the state’s natural beauty is a shared responsibility,” said Heidi Walters, senior director at Visit North Carolina. “These nature-loving travelers become part of the solution as role models, teachers and advocates for the sustainable use of our natural riches.” The program focuses on seven key principles that help guide a tourist’s plan in alignment with ethical exploration.
plan and prepare
The Tourist Office urges visitors to plan their visits in advance, choosing lesser-known areas or avoiding high-use areas. Learning about the regions to explore helps tourists prepare for park rules and regulations.
Stay on the trails and sleep properly
Hiking trails are designed to discourage tourists from damaging plants along the way. If there are no trails, stick to areas that are already showing use and stay within your skill level.
Dispose of your rubbish
Some waste can take millennia to decompose and can have adverse effects on wildlife that come into contact with it. Bag up all rubbish and dispose of it properly.
Leave it as you find it
Laws prohibit the removal of natural objects from national parks and other protected places. Take photos instead of choosing or collecting them.
Be careful with fire
Forest fires can have catastrophic consequences for nature reserves. One must check local regulations, obtain a permit if necessary, keep the fire small and burn the wood to ash to avoid a high risk of wildfire.
keeping wild animals wild
Keep your distance when spotting wildlife to avoid unnecessary stress and harm. Avoid feeding wild animals or leaving leftovers easily accessible when camping.
Be considerate of others and share nature
People who explore the great outdoors in North Carolina come from a wide range of experience levels and abilities. Respect others to create a safe space by being mindful of noise levels and be considerate when overtaking others on the trails.
Outdoor NC invites naturalists to sign the pledge to #makeityournature to follow these principles on their next outdoor adventure. Thousands of site visitors have signed the pledge so far, as have NC State Parks, the US Forest Service and a variety of high-traffic destinations across the state.
With 41 state parks, 10 national parks and four national forests, North Carolina has no shortage of adventure and breathtaking views. In Raleigh, soar above the trees on a hot air balloon ride. Finally, tick surfing off your bucket list by learning from the best at Surf City Surf School. Or spend the night under the stars in the Great Smoky Mountains or the Blue Ridge Parkway.
With a extensive directory of natural attractions, North Carolina is the premier destination for ethical outdoor tourists. And thanks to Outdoor NC, these much-visited destinations will be preserved for generations to come.
Main photo by Brad Styron Photography, Crystal Coast, NC
By Isabella Wilke