In late June, the outdoor industry converged in Denver for the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market. Gearo was there all three days to take a glance at all the new products, companies, and the latest happenings across the field. On the third and final day, the Gearo Team was present for a panel discussion called “Access: Opening Up the Lands We Love” at the Venture Out Ranger Station.
The panel was made up of Nathan Fey, the Director of the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry office; Erin Gaines, the Advocacy Manager of Keen Footwear; Eric Seigfried, the founder of onX Maps; and Katie Wallace, the Director of Social and Environmental Impact at New Belgium Brewing. We wanted to share the tips they gave us on how we can preserve the outdoors for future generations:
Help New People Access the Outdoors
Not everyone has equal access to the outdoors. Without first-hand experience, it’s difficult for someone to gain an appreciation for it. Maybe they don’t have a car, or the upfront costs of outdoor sports prohibit them from even trying. Fey pointed out that a shocking percentage of Denver public school students hadn’t even been to the Continental Divide. With all the amazing places that Colorado has to offer, this is truly a missed opportunity.
So, next time you’re venturing into the wilderness, make an effort to invite some new faces along. Inviting a new friend along holds the potential to show another person how our planet is truly worth protecting. It is difficult for someone to protect what they do not know. The success of wilderness preservation efforts is only as effective as the sheer number of people willing to fight for it.
Volunteer Your Time
In a recent survey, 90 percent of Coloradans expressed that they enjoy the outdoors and all it offers. However, in the same study, only 2 percent reported that they had recently volunteered their time in the outdoor space. Even if only for an hour or two, your volunteer efforts still matter. To paraphrase Vincent Van Gogh, “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”
Leave No Trace / Pick Up Trash
It’s as simple as this: Pack In, Pack Out. If you bring something with you into the outdoors, you need to take it with you when you leave. This is standard outdoor etiquette that the panel and Gearo fully endorses. However, if you’re feeling like a real conservationist, you can take this a step further. On your next adventure, bring a bag with you, and fill it with any trash you encounter. You would be shocked at how much trash is out there. But, in the off chance that you don’t find any, that’s even better!
Many of those in attendance did not live in the state of Colorado, and voiced concern with the representation, or lack thereof, of wilderness conservation efforts in their local and state-level governments. While the above efforts will prove to be crucial in the fight our nation’s wilderness, it can often feel like an uphill battle against politicians who are less concerned with, or work against the cause. If you feel that you live in a state or district that does not handle the matter properly, the panel suggested several ways to voice your concerns and enact change.
The first step is to make sure that your voice of the outdoors is heard in your constituency. This can be done by reaching out to your local representative, showing up to town hall meetings, spreading awareness of the cause throughout your area, and casting your ballot.
Try out some of these tips and let us know what you think!