A Colorado state park on the Front Range has joined exclusive company for its conservation efforts.
Northeast of Colorado Springs in Douglas County, Castlewood Canyon State Park has been named a Gold Standard Site by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, which on its website lists just 10 other "gold" preserves across the nation. Only one other place in the state has the designation: Roxborough State Park in Littleton.
The Boulder-based Leave No Trace nonprofit heralds seven principles: know before you go; stay on trails; pack out trash; leave nature as you find it; no open flames; keep wildlife wild; and trail etiquette. In awarding "gold," the organization assesses how well those principles are taught and practiced.
Sites are judged for their staff and volunteer training, their education materials on the ground and online, and their programs dedicated to Leave No Trace stewardship, especially those aimed at youth.
The Center for Outdoor Ethics considers Gold Standard sites to be "exemplary models, encouraging other public lands to ensure that Leave No Trace education is part of everyone's experience when spending time outdoors."
In a press release, the Friends of Castlewood Canyon State Park said it hoped volunteers elsewhere were emboldened.
"We need to protect and preserve nature so that those who want to enjoy it, thrive in it — now and for future generations — can do so," read the press release, issued amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Preservation is "critical for the future," Friends group president Dale Campbell said in an email, "especially with the use that all the parks are seeing in this time of physical distancing."