2017-07-13 / Outdoors

It’s not what you do, but what you leave behind

What is always there with you … is not something you can get back when you leave it … and others can use it to their advantage? Your footprint!

We all leave footprints as we travel life’s journey. Many of us are well aware of this — in particular, our impact on our environment or on others who follow us. Then there are others who are oblivious and uncaring about the negative impact their journey leaves behind. We all observe them in our daily life: A pickup truck going down the road with trash blowing out of the back. People tossing cigarette butts out the window. The examples are endless. You can see the evidence when you look out your window by the curb next time you’re stopped at a red light. Do these people even have a clue as to what they are doing?

If we look back through history, our early ancestors did not take for granted all that was around them. Hunting or fishing for food was a main priority, and using every part of the animal or fish was standard practice. Tools of the trade, such as rifles, pistols and fishing gear, were all taken care of because the survival of these people depended on it.

Today’s society is a mindset of disposables, with styrofoam cups, plastic plates, toss-away razors and cheap electronics that cost more to repair than it would cost to buy a new one. Our landfills are going to show future generations just how wasteful we were in this day and age.

Leaving behind what you would want to find when you visit a place is not something most folks consider. Take primitive camping, for example. Campers hike into a secluded, undeveloped, unprepared area — no showers, no restrooms, no buildings or vending machines. They will pitch a tent and use only whatever supplies they brought with them. The tent usually sleeps one or two people. It has a screen to keep out mosquitoes but provides minimal shelter. This is simplicity at its best. The food you bring with you is what you eat. Some people will catch fish for food, and — if they’re familiar with the flora of the area they’re located — eat berries and other wild plants. During this day and age, this type of outdoor experience is rare. Now campgrounds are set up for expensive motorhomes, campers and trailers. They come equipped with pools, hot tubs, rec halls and organized activities for all ages. While this is usually a good, clean, safe environment, is it really roughing it? I prefer when it’s just me facing nature — not working against it but with it. It was fun then.

The adage of leaving nothing behind but footprints still holds true today. It should be a creed we all live by. Living in Southwest Florida, a major activity is boating. Whether it’s just cruising, fishing, sailing, diving or exploring, it is fun. What do you leave behind doing all these activities? Is there a place to stow your trash until you get to a dock where a trash receptacle can be used? How about old fishing line? Do you just let stuff blow around and fly out of the boat? How about your boat wake, which is your boat’s footprint? Will your waves disturb the shoreline, causing erosion, or rock someone right out of a kayak or canoe?

Be observant. What is in back of us is as important as what is in front. Yes, it takes a little effort to turn our heads and look, but it will be better for all of us as we strive to enjoy our great outdoors.

Fair winds; calm seas. ¦

— Capt. Dennis Kirk has been traveling the Peace River since 1979. His life adventures are written from various chapters in his three decades of experience in Southwest Florida. He is part owner of the Nav-A-Gator, a riverfront restaurant and marina in Lake Suzy, just off Kings Highway. For more information, call 627- 3474.

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