Tips for How Groups Can Care for Colorado
By Beth Buehler
When places are popular, it is easy for them to get over loved. Sometimes it is simply a matter of people not understanding their impact as they go about their daily routines or as they try something new in the outdoors. As a result, state tourism offices and communities across the U.S. have launched educational campaigns to help protect their places while sharing them with groups and leisure travelers.
Colorado has been at the forefront of these initiatives. The Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) and Boulder-based Leave No Trace organization joined forces in 2017 to reduce visitor impacts on Colorado and introduced the Care for Colorado Leave No Trace Principles in 2018 as a unified message for all to share. The founding partners also established the Care for Colorado Coalition in 2020, and it quickly grew to an alliance of statewide Stewardship Partners, including Destination Colorado Meetings. The coalition is dedicated to educating Coloradans and visitors (including groups) to protect the state’s extraordinary natural and cultural resources.
“The Colorado Tourism Office champions its commitment to destination stewardship through the Do Colorado Right campaign and our Care for Colorado Leave No Trace Principles. Whether you are planning a conference in Colorado or attending one, get more out of your trip when you Do Colorado Right,” says CTO Director Tim Wolfe.
Groups can help care for Colorado through pre-meeting or pre-conference messaging. It’s as simple as including the seven principles in meeting materials and on social media posts and providing a link to the CTO’s website that provides everything an attendee needs to “Know Before You Go.” Also include a link to the Do Colorado Right page.
“The Care for Colorado Leave No Trace principles are simple practices that anyone can put into action to protect the outdoors,” adds Faith Overall, community engagement manager at Leave No Trace. “Conference planners have a wonderful opportunity to not only help attendees enjoy local natural areas but also to equip them to be stewards of these treasured places.”
Care for Colorado Leave No Trace Principles
Here is a brief overview of the seven principles, but you can find the full explanation here.
Know Before You Go
Learn about and respect the spaces we share, consider less visited and off-peak destinations, use reusable water bottles to limit waste and stay hydrated, check weather and trail conditions before heading out, and bring layers, sun protection and rain gear.
Stick to Trails
Walk only on designated trails to help avoid erosion and protect the homes of local wildlife. If you decided to spend extra time camping before or after a meeting, set up in one of Colorado’s thousands designated campsites and camp at least 200 feet from waterways.
Leave It As You Find It
Leave plants, rocks, historical and cultural items as you find them so others experience the joy of discovery. Colorado’s beautiful wildflowers and trees will live forever in a photo, so please don’t pick the flowers or carve the trees. Clean your boots, bike tires and watercraft before and after every outing to prevent the spread of harmful invasive species.
Trash the Trash
If you pack it in, pack it out and leave a place better than you found it. Put litter (even crumbs, peels and cores) in the nearest waste and recycling bins or carry it out with you. Make sure to use designated bathrooms or go into the outdoors prepared to properly dispose of your waste.
Be Careful With Fire
Keep campfires small and manageable to avoid sparking wildfires, never leave them unattended, and always check for local fire restrictions to see if fires are allowed. Use firewood purchased or gathered locally to prevent the introduction of invasive species and before leaving make sure remaining embers are cold to the touch. Also take care when smoking; one of the biggest causes of fires is discarded butts.
Keep Wildlife Wild
Colorado is home to tens of thousands of furry, scaly and feathered creatures. To keep them—and you— safe, don’t approach or feed them. Keep dogs on leashes to avoid wildlife encounters. Store food, trash and anything with a scent in bear-proof lockers, canisters or secured vehicles.
Share Our Trails & Parks
Everyone experiences and enjoys the outdoors in different ways. Be mindful of your group’s noise level so everyone can appreciate shared spaces. Yield to the uphill hiker and biker, they need the momentum. Also, wheelchair users and equestrians always have the right of way.
“Colorado welcomes conference and meeting attendees to enjoy the stunning beauty, diverse culture, and outdoor recreation opportunities like a local during their visit. We also encourage attendees to Do Colorado Right as we do by embracing and practicing the Care for Colorado Leave No Trace Principles to protect the extraordinary resources the state has to offer for generations to come,” notes Barb Bowman, CTO’s stewardship contractor who previously worked with groups for many years while serving on the sales team at Visit Grand Junction.
Let’s all be part of the solution and keep pursuing how groups can implement these tips to care for Colorado.
Colorado native Beth Buehler has been editor of Colorado Meetings + Events magazine for 19 years, helped launch Mountain Meetings magazine, and is on the team that introduced Southwest Meetings + Events last summer. She has planned numerous meetings and events and enjoys exploring Colorado.