Outdoor Etiquette 101

April 25, 2022

Spring is the perfect season to spend as much time outside as possible. In Columbia, we’re uniquely lucky to have so much nature to explore in our own backyards. 

To make sure your adventures are both fun and sustainable, CA’s Open Space team generously shared the best ways you can practice good outdoor etiquette. Following these guidelines shows respect to the environment and helps preserve it for others to enjoy! 

“Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but memories.” -Chief Si’ahl (anglicized as Chief Seattle)

Take a reusable water bottle

A reusable water bottle means less demand for single use plastics. Plus, reusable water bottles are more durable and can accompany you on many more hikes to come.

Stick to the trails 

It is best to use the trails already carved out when hiking to preserve the surrounding environment and lower the risk of injury. Looking for hiking inspiration? Here’s six beautiful spots in Columbia that are ideal for families — meaning they’re relatively short, easy to navigate and include kid-friendly features.

No surprise that Lake Elkhorn is at the top of our list!

Properly dispose of any trash

Choose the proper waste receptacle if there is one, or take your trash home to be properly disposed of. Never leave trash on the ground, even if it is biodegradable, as it can attract pests and rodents and/or may be eaten accidentally by the wildlife.

Unsure whether something is recyclable? When in doubt, throw it in the trash!

Don’t feed the wildlife 

Human food is not made for wildlife, and feeding them may lead to malnutrition. Additionally, the animals may become less cautious of humans and may become aggressive. Learn more about the issues surrounding this issue here.

Elkhorn bird

A bird at Lake Elkhorn

Protect yourself from bugs

The warmer weather brings potentially harmful pests such as mosquitoes and ticks. Insect repellent should be sprayed into the palm of your hands, and then rubbed onto skin. Make sure to spray it outdoors, instead of in any enclosed areas. Don’t forget your feet! It’s also a good idea to wear long, light-colored clothes to help protect your skin from exposure (black and darker colors have been found to attract mosquitoes).

Use sustainable sunscreen

Be mindful of the chemicals used in your sunscreen before applying. Certain chemicals contribute to coral bleaching, as the sunscreen is washed off and enters our waterways. Learn more about sunscreen chemicals to look out for here.

Whatever adventures the outdoors brings, remember to be courteous to both the people and the environment around you. Happy trails, everyone! 

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