One of the greatest aspects of Humboldt is access to public lands, something that any student can appreciate. There are many ways to enjoy the outdoors in Humboldt by taking a mindful moment between classes in the Community Forest, enjoying a day off at the beach, or hiking one of the many trails that adorn the Lost Coast.
Humboldt offers great coastal climbs, bike trails through redwoods, hikes with views, and more. As students return to Humboldt, or even experience it for the first time, it is important to be courteous to public lands.
Humboldt County was established on Wiyot land, a Native American tribe. Tribes and Nations in Humboldt County include Hupa, Karuk, Mattole, Tolowa, Wailaki, Wiyot, and Yurok. It is important to acknowledge this and to act on that acknowledgement with intention and respect as we appreciate the outdoors.
Taylor Kibrick, a senior attending HSU majoring in ecological restoration, discovered Humboldt’s beauty throughout the pandemic. He frequented Humboldt beaches to climb and hiked the dunes. He found his people outside through activities like hiking and climbing. He does his best to leave no trace and packs out anything he packed in, but he still runs into discourteous outdoors-goers.
“The most at Moonstone. I’ve seen people hogging the wall, chucking ropes down from the top of the wall without calling out first. It’s stuff that seems small but can be annoying in such a communal space,” Kibrick said.
As an ecological restoration major, Kibrick looks at interactions between people and the environment with a trained eye, noting how erosion or just plain litter impacts an ecosystem.
“Hiking has become more and more popular, natural areas are seeing more social trails as a result of increased foot traffic, causing habitat degradation and intense erosion. If we still want natural areas to recreate in, it’s our responsibility and in our own benefit to care for our natural parks by respecting the land and following established trails,” Kibrick said.
It is easy to think that individual impact will not amount to much, but it all adds up.
Try and stay on trail to prevent trails from being ruined and disruption of local ecosystems. According to Leave No Trace, a non-profit dedicated to conserving the outdoors, there are seven principles to help minimize impact as outdoor goers enjoy nature:
1. Plan ahead. Planning ahead helps understanding impact to prevent damage to any resources. It is also important to ensure the safety of everyone on the trip. For some, that means to be aware of what areas are culturally significant. Climbers in Humboldt need to be aware of what spots are okay to climb and which are not. For example, a few rocks near the mouth of the Klamath look like a great spot to send, but are culturally significant and should not be climbed.
2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces. Stay on trail. Humboldt trails see a lot of foot traffic and that has an impact over time. The best way to minimize erosion and keep trails enjoyable for all is to stay on them. Going off trail can lead to ecosystem degradation and poorly impact waterways.
3. Dispose of Waste properly. This one is easily summarized as pack it in, pack it out. Leave nothing behind and take all trash. This also means to properly dispose of human waste, to prevent water contamination or the unfortunate case of letting it ruin someone else’s hike. Either dig a six inch deep hole at least 100ft away from any water source or pack it out.
4. Leave what you find. Keep the ecosystem intact, take only pictures, and leave only footprints. Humboldt has lots of great finds, but leave them for others to enjoy.
5. Respect wildlife. It’s for the safety of yourself and wildlife. This also extends to feeding animals, which can cause an unhealthy dependency on humans that could put the animal in further danger. If you see an animal give it some space. If you think it needs help, reach out to the Humboldt Wildlife Care Center. Lastly, keep pets leashed to prevent any unfortunate animal encounters.
6. Minimize campfire impacts. Most wildfires are caused by people and with dozens of fires already active in California, it is important to reduce impact. Campfires should be completely extinguished before moving on. Avoid parking cars in dry grass. Pay attention to local fire regulations and be informed.
7. Be considerate of others. Try not to create negative impacts for others’ experiences. Public Lands are important places of access for everyone.