New Outdoor Recreation Guidelines Emphasize the Importance of Preparation, Inclusivity, AND Shared Stewardship

Part of a national movement, the Washington Recreate Responsibly Coalition encourages best practices that keep people and places safe and welcoming. Today, the Recreate Responsibly Coalition released updated guidelines encouraging people to embrace best practices that focus on taking care of themselves, each other, and the outdoors.

An update to the original guidelines released in May 2020 amid evolving COVID-19 public health restrictions, the 2021 guidelines focus on the importance of preparation, inclusivity, and shared stewardship.

“COVID-19 changed the context of outdoor recreation in Washington state,” said Kindra Ramos, communications director at Washington Trails Association. “With more people than ever enjoying the state’s natural beauty and public lands, these guidelines offer simple and actionable ways each of us, whether lifelong or first-time adventurers, can do our part for Washington’s outdoors.”

Mt. Teneriffe Falls. Photo: All Trails website

Recreating responsibly means:

  • Know before you go. Check the status of the place you want to visit for closures, fire restrictions, and weather.
  • Plan and prepare. Reservations and permits may be required. Make sure you have the gear you need and a back-up plan.
  • Build an inclusive outdoors. Be an active part of making the outdoors safe and welcoming for all identities and abilities.
  • Respect others. There is space for everyone outdoors. Be kind to all who use the outdoors and nature differently.
  • Leave no trace. Respect the land, water, wildlife, and Native communities. Follow the seven Leave No Trace principles.
  • Make it better. We all have a responsibility to sustain the places we love. Volunteer, donate, and advocate for the outdoors.

While there are no longer statewide public health restrictions in Washington that apply to outdoor recreation, infection rates from the Delta variant of COVID-19 are on the rise. The Washington Recreate Responsibly Coalition encourages people to add face coverings and hand sanitizer to their 10 Essentials when enjoying the outdoors.

“Although Washington state has attained some of the highest vaccination rates in the country, COVID-19 is still present in our communities,” said Andrea Martin, Recreation Policy Manager of the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. “We want people to plan and prepare before they venture out because that improves safety for everyone.”

These guidelines are being promoted nationwide through the Recreate Responsibly Coalition, an alliance made up of more than 1,300 non-profit organizations, public agencies, and outdoor recreation businesses, media, and influencers working together to help everyone experience the benefits of nature.

Brought together by a shared motivation to help people recreate safely amid the changing circumstances of the pandemic, the Washington Recreate Responsibly Coalition was one of the first in the nation. It included more than 100 non-profit organizations, public agencies, and local businesses.

By teaming up across sectors and states and harnessing the power of a simple vision, the Recreate Responsibly Coalition has been immensely effective at sharing its messages, garnering billions of impressions on social media, offering the original guidelines in nine languages, and building an influential voice for the outdoors.

“Building an inclusive outdoors is good for people and our environment. Everyone should have the opportunity to safely enjoy the benefits of being in nature, and the Recreate Responsibly guidelines encourage you to be an active part of making the outdoors safe and welcoming for all identities and abilities,” said David Dunphy, Executive Director of the youth outdoor adventure group, Y.E.T.I.

As we look to the future beyond COVID-19, the Recreate Responsibly Coalition hopes that these updated guidelines will also serve as a statement of community: that together, we can #RecreateResponsibly to build a safe, sustainable, and inclusive outdoors for all.

For more information, visit and follow @recreateresponsibly on Twitter and Instagram and #RecreateResponsibly across social media platforms.

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  • Through education and awareness individuals can integrate land acknowledgement and respect for the Snoqualmie Tribe into their recreational practices and experiences! There are simple steps everyone can take while recreating on Snoqualmie ancestral lands to practice respect and help the Tribe in protecting and restoring these lands for generations to come:
    (1)Treat the lands with the respect they deserve, by picking up your own trash, and that of others that you see, properly disposing of pet waste, and staying on designated trails.
    (2)Commit to experience the lands in a way that is centered in mindfulness, rather than conquest.
    (3)Learn more about the Snoqualmie Tribe and its history and deep connection to these lands, and support the work the Tribe does today to continue stewarding these lands.
    (4)Acknowledge that you are recreating on Snoqualmie ancestral lands through both written acknowledgement and through practice.
    (5)Help the Tribe spread its message by encouraging others to learn more and practice land acknowledgement both on and off the trails.
    Learn more!

  • Living Snoqualmie