Tread Lightly! and the Utah Office of Tourism has the answer, and it’s quite simple, but you certainly don’t need us to tell you.
Just in case though… It’s the incredible landscapes, the recreation opportunities, the unrivaled views and the fact of how much of it is public! Which means, not only is it available to us, but also that we are responsible for its health, beauty and stewardship.
As outdoor motorized recreation has grown in popularity, so too have the impacts left on the environment from those who want to get outside, especially in the past year. So we developed Ride Mighty! Tread Lightly!, a free online introductory responsible recreation ethics and education course to help keep our landscape exactly how we love it. Pair that with one of many off-road mapping apps such as the Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office’s Utah Access Map 360° and a copy of the Utah Travel Guide (download or request a printed guide) and you’ll be prepared to responsibly explore all the wonders Utah has to offer.
With this course, new off-roaders have been learning all about why it’s important to ride responsibly and help keep Utah’s trails open. They’ve also been getting the basics on minimal impact recreation, on safety and on how to keep our public land open, healthy and beautiful. But don’t just take our word for it. We checked in with Debbi from Salt Lake to see what she thought after putting the course into practice.
“I was very excited to hear about Ride Mighty! Tread Lightly!, as I have always thought of myself as a good outdoorsy person. I always make sure to bring a trash bag with me for my own rubbish and I always pick up extra that I find while I’m sticking to the trail. I had a slight memory of the T.R.E.A.D. Principles from a backpacking class I took a number of years ago and it was great to reacquaint myself now that I joined an off-road group.”
Debbi says she got into off-roading to experience the beauty and explore Southwest Utah more regularly. She knew from exploring the trail maps beforehand and chatting with fellow members of her group that she may have difficulty traversing over slick rock and wanted to ensure she and her vehicle was up to the challenge.
“I also love biking, hiking and photography. Although I should take a skills course for my camera too! But I like my photos and they remind me of all my trips”
She also emphasized that we are all public landowners sharing the outdoors and many people will benefit by taking the time to know before they go in order to minimize their impact and maintain opportunities for more people.
“I found the course to be very well constructed. It was simple and to the point. Remember I said I had a slight memory of the T.R.E.A.D. Principles? After taking the course, they are etched on my brain! Travel Responsibly, Respect the Rights of Others, Educate Yourself, Avoid Sensitive Areas, Do Your Part. I can’t even separate them as each one is as important as the other.”
Safety awareness is the most important thing that struck a chord with Debbi and most of our other course participants, drawing particular attention to the following course excerpt.
Having the proper gear is important when off-roading. Each type of recreation requires different safety gear and knowing what is required and recommended ahead of time can keep riders safe in case of accidents. Never ride without a helmet and eye protection when required.
Along with safety gear, knowing what kind of weather and elements you will encounter is important when it comes to packing. Be prepared for sudden temperature changes by bringing layers of clothes, a rain jacket, gloves, and sunblock. In winter months, be prepared with extra warm layers, headgear and emergency blankets.
Pack emergency items such as food, water, first aid kit, flashlight, communication device, power inverter and a paper map in case communication devices stop working. Finally, be prepared to pack out any trash you might yield or find along the trail by bringing some trash bags in your rig.
“One of the most important things about getting outdoors is the ability to get back home again”