With more than 12 billion visits to public places in the United States each year, many outdoor areas are negatively impacted by recreational use. People generally do not intend to negatively impact the environment. Rather, they are simply uninformed about how to protect wildlife and the natural world, the same places they want to continue to enjoy. Their well-intentioned but uninformed visits can often result in significant damage: litter left behind, polluted water sources, devastation to sensitive coral reefs, forests, and mountains, the spread of invasive species, and more. These areas are called “Hot Spots”, and though damaged, they canrecover again with the help of customized Leave No Trace solutions.

Women helping clean the beach

HOW IS AN AREA SELECTED AS A HOT SPOT?

Each year, the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics accepts Hot Spots nominations from the public, park managers, partner organizations and other groups that believe their area could benefit from the program. In 2020, 13 sites were selected as Hot Spots.

WHY FOCUS ON FLORIDA KEYS NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARY?
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary protects the only barrier coral reef in the continental United States, stretching south from Miami to the Dry Tortugas. Within these waters lie nationally significant resources including seagrass beds, coral reef colonies, mangrove-fringed islands, and thousands of marine species. However, this fragile habitat is increasingly under threat from hurricanes, disease, boat groundings, rising ocean temperatures, pollution, and human interactions such as litter. In 2019 alone, over 22,000 pounds of litter (aka marine debris) was collected through community service projects throughout Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

Man Cleans Ropes and Garbage from Ocean
WHAT IS THE GOAL OF THIS HOT SPOT?
Though targeted outreach, we aim to encourage a better, well-informed conservation ethic within the Florida Keys community, and inspire visitors to apply the principles learned to wherever they go.

HOW CAN YOU GET INVOLVED?
During the week of February 20-25, 2020, Leave No Trace travelling trainers will be in the Florida Keys working with resource managers, volunteers, and the recreational/tourism sector to tackle issues such as marine debris and water quality using facilitated workshops, community service projects, and outreach focused on ensuring a healthy Florida Keys ecosystem (see attached DRAFT agenda).

Cleaning Up Trash in Kayak

For more information on how to collaborate and/or participate in the events taking place in February, email Nicole.Uibel@noaa.gov.
For information on donations or financial support, please email Sara@marinesanctuary.org.
Your support is crucial to ensure the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary “Hot Spot” week is successful.

Draft Agenda: February 2020 Friday Feb 21st: Key Largo Focus Area
Join us for an invitation only morning workshop focusing on Leave No Trace principles.
Afternoon Service Project: Marine Debris Cleanup (location TBD) 
Saturday Feb 22nd: Florida Keys Outreach
Visit the Islamorada Gigantic Nautical Flea Market to interact with staff from Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Leave No Trace, and other environmental groups.

Sunday Feb 23rd: Marathon Focus Area
Join us for an invitation only workshop focusing on Leave No Trace principles.

Monday Feb 24th: Key West Focus Area
Join us for an invitation only morning workshop focusing on Leave No Trace principles.
Afternoon Service Project: Marine Debris Cleanup (location TBD)

HOW CAN MY BUSINESS GET INVOLVED?
1. Support the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Foundation!
2. Donate items to be raffled to cleanup and workshop participants.
3. Promote the Hot Spot cleanups and workshops via social media.
4. Nominate your staff to participate in “by invitation only” workshops.
5. Sponsor “Hot Spot” week activities, such as the community clean-ups.
6. Sponsor Leave No Trace travelling trainers by providing housing.
7. Help promote Leave No Trace principles through your business practices.
For more information on how to collaborate or participate, please email Nicole.Uibel@noaa.gov. For information on donations or financial support, please email Sara@marinesanctuary.org.