Trail Ambassador program receives LNT Gold Standard designation – Moab Sun News


The Grand County Moab Trail Ambassador Program has received designation as a Leave No Trace Gold Standard Site. Joining an elite group of sites that have earned this honor, the Moab Trail Ambassador program is the first Gold Standard Site in Utah.

“The hard work of staff and innovative approach of community stakeholders means that Grand County is a leading force in the Leave No Trace movement nationally and an example of how effective the role of education is in protecting our public lands,” said Dana Watts, Leave No Trace executive director.

Leave No Trace is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the outdoors. The program aims to achieve a critical mass of Gold Standard designated sites across the country to ensure minimum-impact education is part of every public lands visitor’s experience. Programs such as the one in Grand County aim to alleviate the significant impacts currently affecting outdoor areas. 

It’s no secret that Moab is one of the top destinations in Utah, but many visitors are unaware of how delicate the desert ecosystem can be. Moab Trail Ambassadors are trained educators focused on communicating and encouraging responsible recreation practices to the thousands of visitors who enjoy trails in the Moab area. 

Since the Grand County Trail Ambassador Program officially began in 2021, volunteers have reported over 77,000 informative encounters with visitors where they communicate responsible recreation information.

“Our community is visited by millions of people every year,” said Responsible Recreation Coordinator and Trail Ambassador Manager Anna Sprout. “Maintaining the landscape for user experience is a very important aspect of attracting visitors to our area.”

“When we think about the environment we recreate in, it’s a very fragile landscape that is easily damaged by off-trail travel. Most folks who visit haven’t heard of biocrust, many do not know of our county ordinance that requires packing out human waste, and many are not accustomed to recreating in this hot and arid environment,” Sprout said. “This program seeks to educate folks on responsible recreation practices that will make their trail experience enjoyable and help them protect the experience for others.” 

It’s no easy feat to achieve the Leave No Trace Gold Standard Site designation. To do so, the program must meet a variety of criteria, including LNT training and implementation in management, programming, and outreach as well as LNT signage and messaging at recreation areas to educate visitors. Sprout said that Leave No Trace practices promote the protection of the landscape, respect for others, and personal safety. 

Winter may be approaching, but the ambassador program has big plans for the off-season. Sprout and her team will be busy creating reports and planning for spring Trail Ambassador training and program updates. In 2024, the program will focus on training and engaging volunteers within the community to take part in this initiative, Sprout said.

Follow @moabtrailmix on Instagram to keep up with volunteer opportunities and learn how to get involved. 

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