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The Recreation Industry Wants Us to Reconsider How We Enjoy the Outdoors

Words by Leon Kaye
Recreation Industry

Cabin fever is hitting many of us big time, and this coming Memorial Day weekend will be triggering as we crave barbecues, hikes and camping as the weather warms and seek stimulation other than videoconference meetings. Some public spaces in states and counties are re-opening faster than others, and the reality is that many of us just want to get away from our living rooms, trade in sweatpants for hiking shorts and indulge in nature. Several outdoor groups and companies within the recreation industry, however, are insisting we tread carefully as we enjoy those parks and open spaces once again.

To that end, this Recreate Responsibly site launched with the goal to remind people that enjoying the great outdoors entails a different approach than it had just a few months ago.

This coalition, which includes REI, The North Face, the Outdoor Industry Association and the National Park Foundation offer the outdoor enthusiast in all of us a six-point plan about how to approach our next day trip or camping weekend.

Some of the advice is common sense, such as checking to make sure the place is open before you venture that way, though now things are a tad bit more complicated as many parks and recreation areas will cap how many visitors can enter at one time. Other advice is timeless, such as the “leave no trace” mantra we should all be respecting while we are out in nature, with the caveat that it’s a good idea to take that trash with you as services such as trash collection may not run as frequently.

Additional advice from the recreation industry reminds us that we’re in a different era now: That risky selfie we are tempted to take isn’t the best idea, as first responders such as healthcare professionals are stretched to the limit – the same goes for park rangers and search-and-rescue crews. Long road trips, such as a popular one through Yosemite National Park and across the Sierras to the Devils Postpile (shown above), should be eschewed in favor of more localized day trips, the groups suggest.

Risky selfies at dodgy locations should be avoided at this time, advises Recreate Responsibly

Photo: Risky selfies at dodgy locations should be avoided at this time, as one can read between the lines in this new Recreate Responsibly framework (Photo: Leon Kaye).

Much of this new set of directives takes its cue from a coalition in the state of Washington, in which various groups pulled together to offer the general public guidance on how public spaces are reopening and what visitors should expect in the coming months.

“When each person acts in a responsible way, it helps ensure we are able to promote safety and are able to continue welcoming people to our public lands," Washington state’s commissioner of public lands, Hillary Lanz, said in an emailed statement to TriplePundit. “In Washington state, our recreation community has come together in an extraordinary way to promote responsible recreation. I truly believe this work can serve as a model for the rest of the country and help keep all our communities safe while also allowing us all to enjoy the outdoors.”

The forces behind the Recreate Responsibility initiative are filling a void that many state and federal agencies can’t fill while employees are working remotely or as government budgets are axed. Popular sites such as recreation.gov offer little more direction than COVID-19 advisories as online chat and telephone support are suspended.           

“As our public lands and waters reopen, we’ll all benefit from clear, easy-to-follow guidance on how to recreate responsibly – whether you’re a seasoned outdoor enthusiast or a family heading to your local park,” said Eric Artz, president and CEO of REI.

Image credits: Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye headshotLeon Kaye

Leon Kaye has written for TriplePundit since 2010, and became its Executive Editor in 2018. He is also the Director of Social Media and Engagement for 3BL Media. His previous work can be found at The GuardianSustainable Brands and CleanTechnica. Kaye is based in Fresno, CA, from where he happily explores California’s stellar Central Coast and the national parks in the Sierra Nevadas. He's lived in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay, and has traveled to over 70 countries. He's an alum of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California.

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