(COLORADO SPRINGS) — As Colorado starts to warm up into spring and summer, park leaders with Garden of the Gods are reminding the public- both residents and tourists- to leave no trace.
Estimates say up to 4.5 million people view the park annually- meaning there’s plenty of opportunity for the environment to see damage if Leave No Trace protocol isn’t followed.
Many species of wild animals roam the space, but if visitors get too close, it may scare the animals away on a semi-permanent basis. That means others who visit the park won’t have the same opportunity to observe.
“And there’s a trick,” Bill Tennis, Park Operations Administrator with Garden of the Gods said. “If you’re viewing wildlife, you extend your hand fully out. Give a thumbs up. If your thumb covers that animal, you’re probably a good distance.”
Other tenants of Leave No Trace include sound pollution. If you’re strolling through the garden and insist on music, be sure to wear headphones. If you’re driving through, turn down the music in your car. Don’t rev your engines. That extends to motorcycles.
“Like people, there’s a lot of personalities and some animals- they won’t tolerate much before they decide they’re going to leave.”
Viewers of Big Horn Sheep need to plan to park accordingly. Parking in the street or bike lane for immediate viewing instead of the various parking lot throughout the park can leave to fatal injuries for the creatures.
“It’s dangerous for the sheep,” Tennis said. “Because as cars are trying to weave around the parked cars, then they may not see that sheep are in the road ahead we’ve had big horned sheep get hit in the park on the road.”