- Obtain written permission to conduct a walk on private lands (this includes land trusts and other properties owned by not-for-profit organizations such as The Nature Conservancy). State and federal land management agencies may also require permits for group walks.
- In planning a walk, make sure that at least one person in the group is familiar with the area and knows the trails, sites of ecological sensitivity, and potential hazards.
- When walks are held in ecologically sensitive sites, such as bogs or dunes, limit the number of participants. Encourage participants to stay on the trails in all areas and to use binoculars for long-distance viewing. If off-trail exploration is needed, limit it to one or two people who can bring specimens (if appropriate) back to the group.
- It is the NCNPS policy that there will be no plant collecting on public walks. If an unusual plant is unexpectedly found during a walk (such as a state or county record for a rare plant or a new invasive species), explain how to document this occurrence [see NCNPS Guidelines for Collection of Native Plants for Use in Restoration, Horticulture, Medicinal Preparations and Scientific Research, #7]. A rare species, for example, might be documented with a photograph and a GPS measurement. If any plants are collected, it should be by a person with a permit, if required for the plant, with permission from the property owner, and with an explanation of the scientific/conservation purpose behind the collecting. If a walk is advertised to the public, make sure that press releases state that there will be no collecting on the walk.
- Many land management agencies prohibit pets in natural areas, even on leashes. Be aware of such regulations and notify participants ahead of time.
- Respect and protect habitat, avoiding trampling vegetation or other sensitive features. Stay on designated trails wherever possible. The standard rule is to leave no trace of your visit; avoid damage to the site and its natural and aesthetic values. Visits to sites that are especially vulnerable, such as bogs, should be managed so that there is no foot traffic in the sensitive areas. Use of binoculars to view plants of interest should be encouraged rather than walking into wet areas.
Vol. 13 issue 3