Thursday, August 19, 2021

Please take extra garbage bags with you on your next Idaho outdoor adventure - Recreate Responsibly Idaho!

Abandoned camp and trash in the Boise National Forest (USFS photo)

Hi all, 

I have been working on the Recreate Responsibly Idaho campaign this year and last, and I wanted to share the story I wrote for the Idaho Press in the Outdoors section this week about the RRI 2.0 campaign. 

Here's the web link to the article, and I'll run excerpts from the story below: 

"This year, the consortium of state and federal agencies in Idaho that work on the Recreate Responsibly Idaho campaign last year pivoted to an urgent need to inform and educate recreationists of all kinds about being good land stewards – remembering to pack out trash, properly dispose of human waste, do your homework on where you’re planning to go before you leave home, be smart about fire safety, and more. 

This situation is apparently fairly typical. (courtesy BLM)

"For 2021, we called it the Recreate Responsibly Idaho 2.0 campaign. We decided that we’d mainly try to get the word out via weekly or twice-weekly social media posts to be shared by the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, Idaho Fish and Game, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the U.S. Forest Service, Idaho Department of Lands, the Idaho Rangeland Resources Commission, and the Idaho Department of Commerce.   

Generally, public use is increasing, based on what we know so far. 

“It looks like we’re going to smash our record year,” said Craig Quintana, spokesman for IDPR. The State Parks had a record 7.7 million visits last year. As of June in 2021, park visits were up by 600,000 people.

"On a national level, the U.S. government is seeing public use in 2021 out-pace 2020 at national parks, in national forests and on BLM lands.

"As for tourism visits, the Idaho Department of Commerce’s VisitIdaho campaign seems to be attracting more visitors to the state, based on July 2021 numbers, said Matt Borud, marketing and innovation administrator. July lodging numbers in Idaho, for example, show a 98 percent increase over July 2020 and a 38 percent increase over July 2019, Borud said.

Courtesy USFS

"Last year, the public agencies saw a disturbing increase in people leaving garbage strewn about at dispersed camp sites on BLM and Forest Service lands, trash being left inside fire rings, trash stuffed into restroom facilities. Perhaps you’ve seen some of the pics.  

"A similar trend is occurring this year, officials said. There also are problems with people failing to dispose of human waste properly, potentially causing an increase in E-coli in adjacent streams, ATV or UTV riders scaling steep hillsides and leaving ruts in their wake, causing erosion issues, and ATV or UTV riders roaming the backcountry in search of a destination, sometimes driving up ranchers’ or landowners’ driveways, thinking they’re a public road.

Similar issues are being seen in other western states.

The state of Idaho is putting more resources into paid media than other states, Borud said. “Seems like we’re a little ahead of the curve, compared to some of the other western states,” he said. “I think you’re going to continue to see a lot of emphasis on being a good steward of the land in the next couple of years.” 

Because of the drought and water shortages in 2021, Idaho agencies are also extremely concerned about fire danger, as 80 percent of wildfires are caused by humans each year. That could be from things like leaving fires unattended, not putting out campfires entirely, not disposing of cigarettes in a safe manner, sparks from shooting, things like that.  

Fortunately, there hasn’t been a huge uptick in forest or range fires in Idaho so far this year, so maybe the fire safety message has been working.

Other issues that the RRI 2.0 campaign has been emphasizing include:

  • Pack it in, pack it out. That means your garbage and anything else you brought with you on your outdoor outing. Bring extra garbage bags and rubber gloves in case you encounter a mess somewhere. 

  • Bring a portable toilet on your camping adventure, if you have one, bring a shovel for digging a proper cat hole, or bring Wag Bags, which are made specifically for receiving and packing out poop.
  • Being courteous on boat ramps, launch your boat quickly and move out so the next group can access the ramp.
  • ATV, UTV and motorbike safety for young riders (helmets are required for youths under the age of 18) and experienced riders.
  • No fireworks allowed on public lands.
  • Having a more than one destination in mind when you head outdoors in Idaho … the campgrounds and lodging properties are super busy and mostly full. So have a Plan A, Plan B, Plan C and Plan D in mind before you go. You may not get your first choice.
  • Being civil on the trails with other users and practice good trail etiquette … such as the “Happy Trails” campaign in the Boise Foothills.
  • “Mind your wake” when wake-boarding on Idaho’s lakes … keeping in mind that other boaters and non-motorized users may not like getting tossed around by large wakes and knowing that the large wakes cause erosion on the lakeshore.
  • ·Life jacket safety
Steve Stuebner has been part of the Recreate Responsibly Idaho campaign in both 2020 and 2021. For more information, go to Thanks to the Idaho Press for sharing information about the RRI 2.0 campaign.




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