How Meetings and Events Can Help Care for Colorado
By Beth Buehler
Destination Colorado is the comprehensive go-to resource for meeting and event planners regarding all things Colorado, from sourcing venues and selecting destinations to staying informed on travel and local health guidelines, tapping inspiring content and videos to share with attendees, and encouraging attendees to participate in a thoughtful and sustainable fashion while enjoying the state.
It’s this last part that I want to address. As a Colorado native, frequent flyer in the outdoors, and longtime editor of Colorado Meetings + Events and Mountain Meetings magazines, I was pleased to see the Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) and Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics join forces in October 2017 to reduce visitor impacts on Colorado and introduced the Care for Colorado Principles in May 2018 as a unified message for all to share.
I remember seeing the whimsical Care for Colorado Principles animated video on short etiquette videos on topics like Trash the Trash, Keep Wildlife Wild, Be Careful with Fire, The Etiquette of Poop, and Stick to the Trails debut at the 2018 Colorado Governor’s Tourism Conference in Vail. Immediately, I wondered how the meetings and events industry can help care for Colorado?
Care for Colorado Principles
Care for Colorado Coalition
Fortunately, the two founding partners established the Care for Colorado Coalition in spring 2020, and it quickly grew to an alliance of more than 20 statewide Stewardship Partners, including Destination Colorado. The coalition is dedicated to educating Coloradans and visitors (including groups) to protect the state’s extraordinary natural and cultural resources.
With the outbreak of coronavirus around the same time, CTO expanded the definition of “responsible travel” to incorporate protecting the health and safety of others, including those who call Colorado destinations their home.
“Destination Colorado has been an active partner of the Care for Colorado Coalition since its inception in 2020. As a Stewardship Partner, they continue to demonstrate their commitment to Colorado’s care and sustainability by promoting the Care for Colorado/Leave No Trace messaging with their large network of meeting planners and members. In sharing this messaging, Destination Colorado is helping to educate residents and visitors alike on how to protect our important Colorado resources,” says Kaiti Jacobson Kacerovskis, program manager for the Colorado Tourism Office.
“Destination Colorado believes the Care for Colorado Coalition is extremely important to protect our state’s incredible natural resources and to help our meeting and event guests have the best experience possible by being good stewards of the place they have come to enjoy,” says Kelly Layton, executive director of Destination Colorado. “We will be launching a landing page on our website, adding Care for Colorado flyer templates and videos to our asset library, providing tips in our monthly planner newsletter, and incorporating Care for Colorado at our events. In addition, several Destination Colorado members are Care for Colorado, Stewardship Members.”
7 Care for Colorado Principles
Sharing the Care for Colorado Principles is one of the easiest answers to how the meetings and events industry can help care for Colorado. This simple action will help planners and attendees get “Colo-Ready” and encourage everyone to leave no trace in the outdoors. The image above is a brief overview of the seven principles, but you can find the full explanation below. Some of the details under each principle don’t apply as much to meetings and events, but it’s good for everyone to know how to be a thoughtful and sustainable leisure traveler as well!
Know Before You Go
- Our state and federal agencies manage 42 percent of Colorado’s majestic landscape, and our cities and counties maintain even more. Learn about and respect the spaces we all share.
- Stay back from the pack. Find your way to less-visited and off-peak destinations to minimize down time and maximize your connection with special places.
- Bring along reusable water bottles or hot drink tumblers to limit waste and stay hydrated in our dry climate.
- Check conditions where you plan to visit. In Colorado, even late spring can bring snowstorms, so be aware of the latest news for weather and snow, as well as for road and trail closures.
- Before you head out on your spring-skiing adventures, take the Colorado Backcountry Winter Safety Awareness Pledge and commit to protecting yourself and others while exploring.
Stick To Trails
- With 39,000 marked trails and 13,000 designated campsites, there’s no need to venture beyond. By sticking to these areas and camping at least 200 feet from lakes, rivers and streams, you’re helping natural areas stay natural.
- Even though shortcuts can be tempting, please don’t take them. A few extra strides on the path will protect plants and the homes of the true locals.
- Melting snow leaves trails and vegetation more open to damage. Be sure to stick to trails and walk in the middle of the trail — even if it’s wet, muddy, slushy or icy — to avoid erosion and damage to trailside plants.
- Make sure to wear sturdy footwear — like insulated, waterproof hiking boots — so you can always stick to the trail, particularly in spring and early summer when trails are more likely to be wet and muddy from melting snow.
Leave It As You Find It
- Leave plants, rocks and historical items as you find them so others experience the joy of discovery.
- Any of our 750 different species of wildflowers will live forever in a photo. Snap away, but only with a camera.
- Colorado is beautiful all on its own. Building structures or campsites on public land isn’t cool. Keep it pristine for everyone to enjoy.
- Treat all living things with respect. Carving or hacking plants and trees may kill or disfigure them.
- Dismantle any snow structures you build before you leave.
- When taking a skiing or snowshoeing hut trip, leave your hut better than you found it. Be considerate of other users and follow the instructions. Don’t leave food or trash behind, as it may attract mice or other unwanted creatures.
Trash the Trash
- Pack it in, pack it out. Or pick it up to leave a place better than you found it. Put litter, even crumbs, peels and cores in your nearest waste/recycling bin.
- Wash yourself, your dog or whatever else needs cleaning at least 200 feet from waterways, and use biodegradable soap. A bubble bath is no treat for fish.
- If you have to poo, walk at least 70 steps from trails, water and people. Dig a cat hole 6 inches deep, do your thing in the hole, cover it and pack out your TP. Or, use a wag bag (a disposable bag found in most outdoor stores) so you can pack out your waste.
Be Careful With Fire
- Colorado’s low humidity has perks, but can create dry, dangerous conditions. Keep campfires small and manageable to avoid sparking wildfires.
- When putting out a fire, water it until you can handle the embers. Never let a fire burn unattended.
- Use care when smoking in Colorado’s dry climate. Always put cigarettes out completely and don’t leave your butts behind.
- Always check for local fire restrictions.
- Regardless of the season, avoid making fires in areas where there is little or no dead and down wood, where fires may scar the landscape, or in parking lots and at trailheads.
Keep Wildlife Wild
- Spring can be a particularly sensitive time for wildlife since many species are nesting, having their young or coming out of hibernation. Be sure to travel quietly and give all wildlife extra space during this time.
- Colorado is home to tens of thousands of furry, scaly and feathered creatures. To keep them — and you — safe, don’t approach them.
- Do not feed wildlife no matter how hungry you think they might look.
- Keep your furry buddies leashed when enjoying dog-friendly trails, and pack out their waste. All the way to a trashcan.
- All wildlife, from squirrels to moose, have to work a lot harder to survive in winter. Observe all wildlife from a distance, and do not follow or pursue them. Fleeing forces them to burn energy they need to survive the colder months.
Share Our Trails & Parks
- Chances are you’re not out in nature to people watch, so try out the lesser-known paths and sites.
- Silence your cell phone before stepping into nature and speak softly without using the speaker function.
- Be considerate when passing others on the trails and yield to the uphill hiker and biker — they need the momentum.
- Listen to nature. Keep your voice and music soft so all can enjoy the peace of Colorado.
- Keep noise to a minimum when near others on the trail and let nature’s sounds prevail.
Let’s all be part of the solution and keep pursuing how the meetings and events industry can help care for Colorado!
Photo: Snowmass Balloon Festival by Beth Buehler.
Beth Buehler has been editor of Colorado Meetings + Events magazine for 16 years and helped launch Mountain Meetings magazine in 2013. She has planned numerous meetings and events and enjoys exploring Colorado.