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[pct-l] LNT 1- Why me?

Hello All -

This message should explain a little of why I am involved with LNT.

First, some acronym definitions:

BLM - Bureau of Land Management
USFS - US Forest Service
NPS - National Park Service
NOLS - National Outdoor Leadership School

I have had the great good fortune to be involved with an interagency team
that presents the "Leave No Trace" (LNT) message to large Boy Scout
gatherings. So far, we have talked our heads off at two national Jamborees
('93 and '97) and two National Order of the Arrow Conventions (NOAC'94 and
'95).  We will meet again this summer to present at NOAC'98 (Ames, Iowa).
Fifteen of us (BLM, USFS, NPS, and NOLS) did both static displays and
active presentations at the '97 Jamboree (VA) that reached an estimated
22,000 Scouts and adult leaders.  All told, we guesstimate that our team
has presented the LNT message (at some level) to about 40,000 Scouts and

All but the NOLS folks on this particular team are Scouting volunteers.  We
all have gone thru the NOLS "LNT Masters" course (a fun week of
learning/practicing LNT in some beautiful backcountry locations around the
country!).  We all do a LOT of LNT training outside of Scouting (RV users,
horsemen, Sierra Clubbers, etc).  I am a BLM volunteer as well as a
Scouting volunteer...but sometimes I put my thru-hiker hat on when I talk
LNT <g>.

Is it enough?  Not EVEN close!  We all have a long way to go.  My primary
effort has been to help introduce LNT into Boy Scouting...an organization
that I value highly and have been associated with for decades.  Over the
years I have talked to a LOT of managing agency folks - I always ask how
Scout groups are doing in the backcountry under their care.
Unfortunately, the answer has been 100% uniform...not worth a hoot!  BTW, I
asked that question to every BLM, USFS, NPS, and state type that I met on
both the AT and the PCT...the answer ALWAYS came back the same <f>.
Believe me, it IS enough to make a guy go put his training hat on.

As a matter of fact, since '93 I have been asking the managing agency folks
I meet on the trail about how well us thru-hikers have been protecting the
backcountry.  Sonofagun...the answer is almost the same as for the
Scouts...the feeling is that the very large majority of the thru-hikers
don't make much effort at all to use minimum-impact camping/hiking
techniques.  Bummer!

At first I was puzzled by this observation...then I realized that
thru-hikers as a group are NOT a particularly well-trained bunch of hikers.
Many of us jump into a thru-hike without having anything approaching an
expert level of outdoor skills.  Most of us worry more about gear and
resupply challenges than about catching up on modern minimum-impact
backcountry use techniques. Shoot...if we follow Ray J's advice and avoid
the "official" sites along the trail, we even get to miss the trailhead
displays that warn about particularly fragile areas in the local

Some folks don't get particularly excited about whether or not distance
hikers are skilled minimum-impact hiker/campers.  After all, how much
damage can a few thousand grubby/hungry hikers spread over the three "Great
Trails" do each year?  Not me...I know that distance hikers have a much
larger impact than just their own footprints.  Destination hikers way too
often accept distance-hiker wisdom as gospel (we sure have THEM fooled
<VBG>)...and how about all those thru-hiker slide shows and free-dinner
talks <g>.

See you at "LNT 2- Why now?"

- Charlie II  AT (MEGA'93)
             PCT (Mex@Can'95)

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