ACADIA NAT’L PARK — Acadia is among the first 10 “public land recreation areas” across the country to be awarded the Gold Standard designation by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics.
The center is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to teach people how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly and protect the natural landscape.
The 10 Gold Standard designees were selected on the basis of several criteria, including a history of implementing Leave No Trace skills and ethics through management, outreach and educational efforts, having staff formally trained in Leave No Trace practices and offering Leave No Trace interpretive ranger talks.
Acadia Resource Specialist Charlie Jacobi has led the park’s Leave No Trace efforts for nearly 20 years.
“We strive to provide all of our visitors with the best possible programs and resources from Leave No Trace to instill the importance of responsible recreation in the outdoors,” he said. “We are committed to keeping our landscape pristine.”
Jacobi said the principles of Leave No Trace can be broadly applied to cover educating visitors about all kinds of behaviors, from littering to speeding to allowing dogs to run off leash. Unleashed dogs can harass wildlife. And the faster you drive, the more likely you are to hit a deer, porcupine or other animal.
“As far as I’m concerned, driving the speed limit and driving cautiously is part of leaving no trace because it protects wildlife,” Jacobi said.
Tampering with the Bates cairns that mark Acadia’s hiking trails – or building new cairns on the mountains or cobble beaches – violates the principles of Leave No Trace, he said.
And though there are no regulations requiring hikers to stay on marked trails, Jacobi said that doing so helps protect the natural landscape.
“We try to minimize trail abrading and widening,” he said. “We talk with people at every opportunity and tell them it’s OK to step off a trail, but try to step on a rock or something else durable.”
Jacobi is a master Leave No Trace trainer. Each year, he and others conduct classes in the principles of Leave No Trace.
This is the first year the Leave No Trace Center has awarded the Gold Standard designation. The 10 public recreation areas receiving the designation include state parks, national forests and four national parks: Acadia, Isle Royale, Olympic and Shenandoah.