Local Hero: Dana Watts

Hiking By Brian Norton |

For over two decades, Boulder resident Dana Watts has been telling America to pick up after itself. As executive director of the Boulder-based Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, a national non-profit organization that promotes stewardship of the outdoors and responsible recreation practices, Watts and her staff of 21 have taken their message to Capitol Hill and regularly visit with land managers at the National Park Service, BLM, Fish & Wildlife and the U.S. Forest Service.

Maintaining programming in every state and many countries, Leave No Trace annually reaches an estimated 15 million visitors to public lands with cutting-edge education and a resource-rich website that includes an Online Awareness Course. “We simply want to protect the outdoors by teaching and inspiring people to enjoy it responsibly,” she says.

“The message is sinking in. The easiest and simplest way to minimize your impact is to pack out your trash and stay on trails,” says the Colorado native who loves to play outside with her two boys, one girl and husband, Scott Gwozdz, a business professor at CU Boulder.

“People can play a critical role in protecting the outdoors. Leave No Trace core principles should become second nature, an ethic that also applies at home in terms of turning off lights, using reusable bags and bottles, recycling and minimizing water usage. Besides which, it’s the right thing to do.” LNT.org

—Jeff Blumenfeld

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