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Dialogue continues on responsible recreation, hosted by Tread Lightly

"Convergence Dialogue" for outdoor recreation interests to share ideas and develop a strategic plan of actions to promote responsible recreation.

From Tread Lightly!, Inc.

The mission of Tread Lightly!, Inc., is to instill an ethic of low-impact recreation among all Americans. The non-profit group has sponsored a series of "Convergence Dialogue" meetings for outdoor recreation interests to share ideas and develop a strategic plan of actions to promote responsible recreation into the new millennium.

The third meeting, Surveying Our Progress,' was held in Shepherdstown, West Virginia at the National Conservation Training Center on March 31, 2001. The series was designed to open lines of communication, build common ground and discuss pertinent issues and challenges facing the future of responsible recreation, by bringing together representatives from various forms of recreation interests.

The participants have represented perspectives ranging from federal and state natural resource management agencies, to enthusiast groups, industry and conservation. Upon a review of past Dialogue sessions accomplishments and content, each participant was asked to identify directions in which to continue dialoguing and further opening lines of communication for the progress of responsible recreation into the future.

Discussions began which included the resounding desire of all participants to continue with the momentum established from the Convergence Dialogue Series, and to look for ways to provide similar forums for the purpose of discussion on issues affecting recreation interests.

Actions agreed on included:

  • Get Administration and agency heads to stress the importance of recreation management to the field. Both motorized and non-motorized recreation organizations agreed to work together on this goal. It includes providing more accurate information on the unmet funding needs.
  • Develop a system that allows the participants to collect and submit accomplishments and success stories to a central clearing house for distribution to agencies and the public.
  • Promote a dialogue with non-motorized recreationists and environmentalists about role of motorized recreation on public lands.
  • Form a broad coalition for recreational access which includes all types of users.
  • Expand and enhance education on responsible recreation ethics to such groups as hunters and youth groups, as well as to the general public.
  • Develop education actions, including classroom curricula, coordination of of Tread Lightly! and Leave No Trace messages, and encouragement of recreation groups to pass along the message.
  • Incorporate off-highway vehicle ethics in state hunter safety education programs in all states.
  • Include education on what the consequences are of not using proper ethics
  • Build common approaches, and support planning for balanced travel management that includes both road and trail opportunities on public land.
  • Continue the Dialogue Series and find new ways to reach out to non-participants in a way that sets aside polarized positions and politics.
  • American Trails will help develop coalitions among non-governmental organizations on common approaches for travel management support on public lands, and to provide a forum for responsible recreation efforts at the next National Trails Symposium in 2002.

Nina Leopold Bradley, who is the eldest daughter of conservationist Aldo Leopold, inspired participants with her keynote presentation. Bradley spoke of finding a connection with the land while reading the inspiring words from her father's publication, A Sand County Almanac. Bradley, a renowned conservationist, has accomplished much throughout her life in the fields of research and community service. She currently works with the Aldo Leopold Foundation, which works to help people connect with the land around them.

Participants developed action items to work on to further the message of responsible collaborative recreational pursuits, and will continue to find ways to dialogue and build common ground together. Although a resounding concern from participants was that many voices, which should have been in attendance, were not, overall they were pleased with the outcomes and the opportunities to discuss and learn.

Join Tread Lightly!

One of the great things about America is the opportunity to travel the backcountry and see many wonderful sights, like wildlife, mountaintop vistas and scenic lakes. Tread Lightly! wants to help conserve these wonderful opportunities and we would invite you to contribute to the conservation and celebration of our great outdoors by actively participating in the Tread Lightly! program.

For more information on Tread Lightly!, Inc., please contact their office at (800) 966-9900 or visit the Website at

April 2001

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