Tread Lightly! isn't trying to outlaw off-roading or spoil anybody's outdoor fun. In fact, the mission of Tread Lightly! is to ensure the long-term future of outdoor recreation by promoting responsible behavior today. It's all about finding a balance between humans and nature, between our desire to get out and enjoy the great outdoors and our desire to maintain a healthy environment for ourselves and our children.
A core belief of Tread Lightly! is the idea of land stewardship. Stewardship is the careful management of something entrusted to your care. As the top link on the food chain and the animal most capable of inflicting damage on nature, humans are the logical stewards of the great outdoors. (In the Biblical creation story, God gave man "dominion over… every living thing that moveth upon the earth.") It is our responsibility, therefore, to ensure that natural resources are managed with an eye on long-term sustainability.
The fundamental principles of Tread Lightly! can be summed up by the Tread Lightly! Pledge:
- Travel and recreate with minimum impact. Don't ride motorized or mechanized vehicles into off-limits wilderness areas. Don't create new routes or expand existing trails. Stay clear of sensitive habitats and wetlands.
- Respect the environment and the rights of others. If you're riding a motorized vehicle or watercraft, yield to hikers, horseback riders, bikers, kayaks and canoes. Get permission to enter private land. Obey all signs and be sensitive to wildlife.
- Educate yourself; plan and prepare before you go. Make sure your vehicles and your equipment are in working order. Plan your route beforehand and bring along all necessary maps and GPS devices. Get all necessary permits when required by law.
- Allow for future use of the outdoors; leave it better than you found it. Pack out your garbage (and any other litter that you find). Leave plants, animals and rocks where you found them -- take a picture instead. Volunteer to rebuild and restore trails.
- Discover the rewards of responsible recreation. Nothing compares to the beauty and serenity of the outdoors. Preserve that beauty for future generations by using "common sense and common courtesy."
Tread Lightly! fulfills its mission by engaging in a number of advocacy and education programs. Read more about them on the next page.