Tread Lightly!® is a national nonprofit organization with a mission to promote responsible outdoor recreation through ethics education and stewardship.
Tread Lightly! was launched in 1985 by the US Forest Service and became a nonprofit organization in 1990.
Tread Lightly!’s educational message, along with its training and restoration initiatives, are strategically designed to instill an ethic of responsibility in a wide variety of outdoor enthusiasts and the industries that serve them. The program’s goal is to balance the needs of the people who enjoy outdoor recreation with our need to maintain a healthy environment. Tread Lightly!’s core focus is on supporting and encouraging stewardship from those engaged in outdoor recreation on America’s lands and waterways. The organization offers unique programs and services to help remedy growing recreation issues. The federal government officially recognizes the organization as a sole-source service provider of education and training on how to be environmentally and socially responsible while using motorized and mechanized vehicles.
Travel Responsibly on land by staying on designated roads, trails and areas. Go over, not around, obstacles to avoid widening the trails. Cross streams only at designated fords. When possible, avoid wet, muddy trails. On water, stay on designated waterways and launch your watercraft in designated areas.
Respect the Rights of Others including private property owners, all recreational trail users, campers and others so they can enjoy their recreational activities undisturbed. Leave gates as you found them. Yield right of way to those passing you or going uphill. On water, respect anglers, swimmers, skiers, boaters, divers and those on or near shore.
Educate Yourself prior to your trip by obtaining travel maps and regulations from public agencies. Plan for your trip, take recreation skills classes and know how to operate your equipment safely.
Avoid Sensitive Areas on land such as meadows, lakeshores, wetlands and streams. Stay on designated routes. This protects wildlife habitats and sensitive soils from damage. Don’t disturb historical, archeological or paleontological sites. On water, avoid operating your watercraft in shallow waters or near shorelines at high speeds.
Do Your Part by modeling appropriate behavior, leaving the area better than you found it, properly disposing of waste, minimizing the use of fire, avoiding the spread of invasive species and repairing degraded areas.