MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Cheaha State Park is one of 10 public land recreation areas in the nation to earn Gold Standard designation from the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. Cheaha is one of only two parks in the Deep South honored by the national nonprofit organization that protects the outdoors by teaching people how to enjoy it responsibly.
“We are honored to be recognized for the work we have done to encourage our visitors to ‘Leave No Trace’ so that future generations can enjoy our park as much as we do,” said Mandy Pearson, Cheaha State Park Naturalist. “Protecting these amazing landscapes through our education efforts is of utmost importance to us and we’re encouraged that our work has been recognized in this way.”
The Leave No Trace in Every Park campaign encourages visitors to abide by the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace: plan ahead and prepare; travel and camp on durable surfaces; dispose of waste properly; leave what you find; minimize campfire impacts; respect wildlife; and be considerate of other visitors.
The other public land recreation areas to earn the Leave No Trace Gold Standard are Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area in Sand Springs, Ga.; San Juan Islands National Monument, Lopez Island, Wash.; Knob Noster State Park, Knob Noster, Mo.; New River Gorge National River, Glen Jean, W.V.; Isle Royale National Park, Houghton, Mich.; Coconino National Forest, Flagstaff, Ariz.; Olympic National Park, Port Angeles, Wash.; Shenandoah National Park, Luray, Va.; and Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Maine.
Dana Watts, Executive Director of Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, said the new program was developed thanks to a donation by KEEN Footwear. Each of the areas underwent a rigorous application process, according to a Leave No Trace Center’s news release. The 10 Gold Standard sites were selected based on combinations of the following criteria:
• A history of successfully implementing Leave No Trace Outdoor skills and ethics into management, programming, outreach and education efforts at their sites.
• Have staff formally trained in Leave No Trace.
• Post Leave No Trace signage throughout trailheads, visitor centers and campgrounds as well as Leave No Trace language and messaging included in pamphlets, maps and other distributed materials for visitors.
• Offer Leave No Trace interpretative programs including ranger talks, campfire events and trail outings to its visitors.
“Our staff at Cheaha has done an outstanding job with the Leave No Trace program and we are thrilled the park has achieved this honor,” said Greg Lein, Alabama State Parks System Director. “Helping our visitors learn the importance of great stewardship of our land is a rewarding benefit of working in the outdoors. All of the employees and volunteers in the Alabama State Parks System have this as a core value.”