17, February 2021 – In light of recent tragic events and the 21 fatalities during the 2020-2021 winter season, the USDA Forest Service wants to remind recreationists to think ahead, plan, and prepare for their outings on National Forest System lands and to recreate responsibly.
To #RecreateResponsibly means to keep yourself healthy, to keep others safe, and to preserve and protect public lands. With another 2-3 months of winter remaining, visitors should exercise increased caution when traveling out into the backcountry. Visitors can mitigate their risk by doing the following:
- Know Before You Go – Check the forecast in advance. Find out if a recreation fee or permit is required. Bring the proper clothing and gear, packing extra layers, waterproof clothing, and avalanche safety gear. In addition, some areas can become dangerous with winter conditions. Keep in mind that roads and facilities may be closed in winter. Visit www.fs.usda.gov/visit/know-
before-you-go for more information.
- Recreate with respect – Be respectful of other visitors and the place you are visiting by keeping pets on leash, packing out all trash and waste, and leaving the area better than you found it. Practice physical distancing by covering your nose and mouth and eating and resting outside. If you feel sick, stay home.
- Plan your route in advance – Go early or during the week when visiting popular areas. If possible, visit other sites to beat crowds. Explore locally as driving and parking may be more challenging in winter. Know what kind of roads you will be driving on and ensure that you have the right vehicle to make it to your destination. Do not rely on cell coverage or GPS. Instead, carry a paper map and know how to read it.
- Keep in touch – Always let someone know the details of your trip, including where you’re going and when you will be back. Be sure to stick to your plan.
- Play it safe – Know your limits and your gear. Slow down and choose lower-risk activities to reduce your risk of injury.
By preparing ahead of time and using the resources provided, recreationists become aware of the dangers associated with winter recreation. Recreating responsibly, especially during the winter months, helps save lives.
To learn more about how to recreate responsibly during the winter, please visit www.recreateresponsibly.org/