Eco-friendly Tips for a Healthy Greater Yellowstone

If you’re reading this blog, you likely have a love for the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. In honor of Earth Day and Week, here are a few tips for all of us to help preserve the lands, waters, and wildlife of Greater Yellowstone for future generations. Thank you for all that you do for the wild heart of North America!

A pika in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. (Photo Cindy Goeddel.)

A pika in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. (Photo Cindy Goeddel.)

Stay on designated trails. When we deviate from a trail, whether it’s to walk next to a friend or avoid a puddle, we’re contributing to erosion and damaging the surrounding environment. Also avoid paths that have been created by people to cut across switchbacks.

Be bear aware. One of our goals at the Greater Yellowstone Coalition is to keep people safe and bears alive. This includes being prepared when heading into bear country. Always carry bear spray, have it in a readily available spot (bottom of backpack is no good), and know how to use it. Hike in groups and make noise so that bears hear you coming.

Pack it out. No one is ever happy seeing trash out in nature, so don’t contribute to it. Pack it ALL out, including biodegradable items and food scraps. Litter is ugly, and it also hurts wildlife. Animals can get stuck in plastic when looking for food remnants or get sick or die from eating food scraps.

Be smart about fire. As we move into fire season in the mountains, it’s crucial we take all the necessary precautions from starting a spark in the woods. Keep it small and keep water nearby in case the fire gets out of control. When extinguishing your fire, drown the embers and wood and remember if it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave.

Choose the right campsite. When picking a spot to pitch your tent, search out spots that are either designated sites or, when in the backcountry, choose a place where you’ll do the least amount of vegetation disturbance. If you’re near water, make sure you’re at least 200 yards away to prevent anything from your campsite running into the water if it rains.

Take a long walk before going #2. Move at least 200 feet from a trail, campsite, or body of water before going to the bathroom. No matter how uncomfortable it is, pack out your used toilet paper and sanitary products as well.

-Emmy Reed, Communications and Digital Media Associate