“Leave No Trace” is About More Than Trash

Dear Friends,

We all know the James River Park System is a beautiful and popular place to enjoy the outdoors. With almost 600 acres of urban wilderness and 22 miles of trails, there is something for everyone to enjoy. However, with so many visitors, it is important to practice responsible Park use and follow basic leave-no-tace principles.

Leave no trace is a set of seven principles that help people enjoy the outdoors without leaving a negative impact. These principles are:

  1. Plan ahead and prepare.

  2. Stay on the trail.

  3. Dispose of waste properly.

  4. Leave what you find.

  5. Minimize campfire impacts.

  6. Respect wildlife.

  7. Be considerate of other visitors.

All of these are important, but I think one that people forget is number 4- leave what you find. More than once recently we have been made aware of incidents where people have been harvesting rocks directly out of the river, and from other areas of the Park for commercial/artistic use. This is damaging to the Park, and a prime example of inconsiderate Park use. These rocks often help create habitats for the plants and animals that call the Park home. If you see this happening please let us know so that we can help educate people.

My biggest concern is that with nearly 3 million visits per year, what would happen if everyone took a piece of the Park home with them? There wouldn’t be anything left for the rest of us to enjoy. No one has the right to leave a permanent mark on our shared natural space, through graffiti, theft, or other vandalism. If you see something, say something.

Here are some specific ways to practice leave no trace in the James River Park System:

  • When planning your trip, be sure to check the weather forecast and pack accordingly.

  • Stay on the designated trails to help prevent erosion and damage to vegetation.

  • Pack out all of your trash, including food scraps, toilet paper, and cigarette butts.

  • Do not remove any plants, rocks, or animals from the park.

  • Be respectful of wildlife and do not disturb their habitats.

  • Quiet down and be mindful of other visitors, especially in popular areas.

By following these simple tips, you can help protect the James River Park System for future generations to enjoy. You can also help by letting us know when you see problems in the Park. You can simply fill out our incident report form here- https://jamesriverpark.org/contact/

By working together, we can all help keep the James River Park System a beautiful and healthy place for everyone to enjoy.

See you in the Park!


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