Santa Rosa, CA – April 21, 2021 – Sonoma County Tourism (SCT) along with Sonoma County Regional Parks (SCRP) today announced a partnership with the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics to help ensure visitors who enjoy the region’s parks and other natural resource areas do so responsibly and sustainably.
Exploring the area’s natural resources is a key driver for visitation to Sonoma County. With 17 percent of Sonoma County’s 10.2 million (2019) visitors citing “touring” and six percent (6%) claiming “outdoors” as the main purpose of their trips to the region, helping protect these resources is vital to the long-term health of the area.
“Protecting and preserving Sonoma County’s natural resources is a key component of SCT’s role within destination stewardship,” said Claudia Vecchio, CEO, Sonoma County Tourism. “We are committed to working on initiatives such as this that help visitors understand how they can benefit rather than denigrate our spectacular natural areas.”
Through its Seven Principles, Leave No Trace provides a framework of minimum impact practices for anyone visiting the outdoors. These principles are highly relevant this summer due to the expected surge in seasonal visitors to the Sonoma County coast and Russian River and the potential effects the drought will have on river recreation.
“This partnership will help park visitors learn guidelines for recreating responsibly and lessening impacts on local landscapes,” said Sonoma County Regional Parks Director Bert Whitaker. “Our goal is to keep our visitors, communities, lands and waters safe so everyone can enjoy the benefits of nature and the beauty of Sonoma County.”
The robust partnership will include a broad scope of messaging that can be used by both SCT and SCRP to educate and influence visitors prior to and during the summer season. These messages will be disseminated through a paid radio campaign conducted by both SCT and SCRP via local and regional stations, social media posts, on-site messages and signs and other communications channels as needed. It also includes local listening sessions and partner outreach, including developing a county-wide advisory group. This will help set a long-term strategic foundation for maximizing a broadly supported commitment to sustainability and stewardship.
Sonoma County’s coastal and river beaches have become increasingly popular destinations for visitors from Sacramento and the Bay Area as well as for locals, a trend that is spiking as more people discover outdoor recreation during the pandemic. Summer day use in Sonoma County’s parks jumped 20 percent in 2020 from the same period in 2019, with a similar pattern expected this year.
In addition to messaging and outreach, Regional Parks is adding trash, recycling and portable restroom facilities to its river and coastal parks; organizing park stewardship programs with volunteers; expanding roadside signage and parking information; limiting charter bus access and soliciting proposals from potential concessionaires to operate a summer shuttle service to the Russian River.
“Sonoma County has many agencies and community partners already working hard to preserve the beauty and stability of our natural resources,” Whitaker added. “This is an opportunity for us to align under this umbrella set of messages that help to move us forward in a collaborative way.”
“Leave No Trace is thrilled to be working with Sonoma County, said Dana Watts, executive director of the Leave No Trace Center. “With such diverse natural and cultural resources, we look forward to customizing a program that will directly address the key issues in the area, engage collaborative conversations among residents and businesses, and help change behavior of visitors.”
This partnership kicks off on Earth Day 2021 and will extend through 2022 with a wealth of information and resources for Sonoma County residents, organizations and visitors.
About Sonoma County Tourism: Sonoma County Tourism is the region’s destination stewardship organization. Inspiring travel to the region through a variety of sales and marketing programs aimed at consumers, meeting and event planners, the travel trade and media, the organization strives to ensure responsible tourism helps create a robust economy for the Sonoma County region.
About Sonoma County Regional Parks: Sonoma County Regional Parks manages nearly 60 parks, beaches and trails throughout Sonoma County. Regional Parks is committed to preserving irreplaceable natural and cultural resources and offering opportunities for recreation and education that enhance the quality of life and well-being of county residents and visitors.
About Leave No Trace: Leave No Trace is an international movement, program and nonprofit organization that uses the power of science, education and stewardship, to ensure a sustainable future for the outdoors and the planet. The organization accomplish this mission by delivering state-of-the-art education and research to millions of people across the country U.S., alone each year. For more information: www.LNT.org.