We all love to venture off the beaten path and enjoy nature. Taking your 4×4 or SxS down a designated trail or into the desert is not only an enjoyable experience, but a privilege. That same privilege can be revoked when environmental concerns arise. That is why we have the responsibility to maintain trails using proper trail etiquette. Thankfully Tread Lightly! exist and their educational and outreach programs can get you on the righteous path and keep your trails open.
Tread Lightly! is more than just another boutique decal for your jeep’s rear window. Tread Lightly! and their associates are paving the way for good stewardship towards nature from all outdoor communities. The ultimate goal is to create a balance between outdoor lovers, that includes us off-roaders, and the local fish and wildlife.
You can learn so much more by going to their website as it is a terrific platform for resources and education. Also, you should know this organization is a rights advocate group that represents hunters, fisherman, hiking, camping, snowmobiling, horseback riding, mountain bikers, shooting sports, and so much more. Let us break it down for you with a fun acronym.
- Travel Responsibly
- Respect the Rights of Others
- Educate Yourself
- Avoid Sensitive Areas
- Do Your Part
Seeing a .org at the end of their URL means you know they are up to good things. Tread Lightly! provides education and training materials that will get you up to speed on trail etiquette, conservation and how to interact with your surroundings appropriately. They provide outreach programs and host stewardship projects and programs. In addition, Tread Lightly! has started a kid’s program to get outdoor youth involved early on.
Tread Lightly! has made some big moves too. They paired up with the Forest Service to create a new educational literature called RIDE ON aimed at keeping us on track or in this case, on the trail. Promoting off-roaders to stay on designated trails allows government agencies to clearly see the initiatives taken, the positive education making a difference, and hopefully will remove the negligent off-road image from their sights.
How effective has their outreach been? Well for starters their message has reached over 200 million outdoor enthusiasts! Tread Lightly! is constantly gaining more partners who seek the same result. Each year over $1 million dollars gets donated for advertising space to pursue a message of clean and healthy environment.
Beyond spending a few bucks on advertising, Tread Lightly! is working with other organizations at the ground level. They recently teamed up with Quadratec to create the Quadratec Cares grants. Another program is the BFGoodrich Oustanding Trails presented by Tread Lightly! In just one year Outstanding Trails had awarded $180,000 to 48 off-road trails.
These grants were designed to help individuals and clubs organize clean-ups, maintenance days and/or conduct their own education outreach. While these grants are typically small, they are wide spread and can be a lifeline to supporting volunteer maintenance projects and ethics programs locally.
This is all sounds good, but how does the membership work? Tread Lightly! has made it easy with a multi-level tiered benefit membership package ranging from as little as $25. Individuals, clubs or business can all participate and decide what level they would like to participate. In return each tier has more and more benefits for you. This includes gift cards to Tread Lightly!’s online store to discounts on some of off-roaders biggest needs.
While Tread Lightly! is a fantastic play on words for the outdoorsy environmentalist, its goal stretches past that of trail humor. Tread Lightly recognizes that the best way to promote responsible trail usage is by involving active recreationist. Their movement is essential to allowing us a spot on the list of users for trails across America thus keeping our sport alive! So join the scores of similar minded people through good trail stewardship, minding responsible off-road ethics, and perhaps consider an annual membership for you and your local club. Let’s keep our open spaces accessible and ready for use!