Have you thought about helping to protect wildlife or wild flowers, but you don’t know how? Or maybe you want to protect your favorite camping site or that cool little stream nobody else knows about? Making a difference in the backcountry is easy for anyone – you don’t have to be Ted Turner. Not every one can fly to the Amazon delta to move bird nests or trek off to the Aleutian Islands to remove crude oil from a pristine beach. But everyone can help right where they are. Follow these 3 easy steps, and you’ll be on your way to giving back to your backcountry and you’ll have a ball doing it.
First step is to take inventory of your backcountry interests. What is your favorite outdoor activity? Is it fishing, rock climbing, bird watching, hiking, camping, canoeing, hunting, skiing, classifying plants, kayaking, horseback riding or something else? Take a few minutes to really understand what excites you about being off the pavement and in the backcountry. Once you have pictured yourself engaging in your favorite outdoor recreation, you’re ready for step two.
The second step towards becoming a backcountry hero is to do a little research. If you love to hike, perhaps spending some time researching the American Hiking Society and some of its projects make sense to you. If bird watching is your thing, BirdLife International may be worth looking into. The easiest way for many to do research is on the internet. But don’t forget about book stores, libraries or sport specific organizations like the ones just mentioned. A more comprehensive list can be found on-line in our Education Center at www.backcountrytoys.com.
As you do your research, keep your eyes open for projects in your area. You’ll be amazed at how you will be able to make a difference right where you live. Only one step to go.
Up to this point you’ve identified a subject, you’ve research it and now it’s time to get moving and this is most critical step. I doesn’t take much time or effort to take action. In fact, there are organizations all around the world looking for you to volunteer and they all have active lists of projects that could use your talents. If you have a hiking vacation planned, why not incorporate a small project into your trip? Maybe a letter needs to be written to your legislator or perhaps you could pick up trash along a local lake shore. There’s lots to be done.
Spending time in the backcountry doing the things you love to do is made sweeter when you help to protect, conserve and enhance your activity. We have great trail systems and great river and lake systems and all because of people like us, who take the time to improve those things we love so much. With just a little action, you will be an outdoor hero. Use this information and you’ll Get It Right The First Time.
Chuck Fitzgerald is the President of Arizona based BackCountry Toys, an online store providing backcountry specialty gear and educational information for outdoor enthusiasts. Visit http://www.BackCountryToys.com to receive the free e-newsletter “FreshAir" or call (800) 316-9055.