Mind Your P's & Q's-Even in the Outdoors
The door has opened on another summer season in Ohio, enticing us to leave behind the city limits and get into nature. As we pack up the gear to tramp through the woods, pitch a tent, go boating or cast a fishing line, there is one important thing to remember-our manners. A visit to our favorite state park is a great way to escape the hustle and bustle, but a nature vacation is not an escape from our obligation to be good neighbors and good stewards of our natural resources.
Here is a guide to some basic outdoor etiquette that might make all the difference in your next nature adventure.
Millions of Ohioans will flock to our rivers, lakes and streams this summer for a relaxing day of fishing with family and friends. Whether fishing from a boat or from shore, extending common courtesy to other anglers is sure to make for a more enjoyable day. When fishing in a stream or from a bank, choose a spot that won't crowd others fishing the same waters. If unsure about whether you're too close, just ask. You also want to avoid casting too close to another angler's line. Those fishing from boats should imagine a big circle around other boaters and stay outside of that perimeter. Never leave behind discarded line or litter - both are hazardous to wildlife, unsightly and it's illegal.
Crisscrossing our state parks are miles and miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding, rollerblading and more. While some of these trails are dedicated to just one type of activity, a majority are multi-use trails. A basic rule of thumb is: those on bikes should yield to all others and all users should yield to horse back riders. Now, if you're the hiker and it's clearly easier for you to move off trail to let a bicycle pass, be nice and step aside. Stay right when on the trail and alert folks when you're passing. Dogs are welcome on most state park trails, provided they remain on their leash. Keep our trails clean and beautiful by packing out what you pack in - that includes anything your dog might have deposited along the way.
Ohioans love to go boating - from Lake Erie to the Ohio River and on the many lakes and streams in between. You can set the tone for the day even before the boat hits the water by being ready to launch when it's your turn in line. Once on the water: be aware of the other boats around you; steer clear of driving between boating anglers and the banks they are fishing; avoid rocking other boats when passing and remember that motorized boats should always yield to non-motorized vessels such as sail boats, kayaks and canoes. Those using personal watercrafts - such as jets skis and wave runners - are bound to the same rules as boaters. Additionally, they should not zigzag between boats, avoid jumping boat wakes and maintain a safe distance from shoreline areas.
One of the most popular summer activities in our state parks is camping. Being a respectful campsite neighbor is as important as remembering to take the fixings for S'mores! For starters, keep noise levels to a minimum - especially after 10 p.m. Imagine what it would be like having a stranger cut through your house on his way to the store, and refrain from using other's campsites as your personal shortcut. Lastly, if the family dog is part of your camping trip, be sure it's well behaved and remember to clean any messes.
As summer temperatures begin to soar, beaches are cool places to hang out. When spreading your beach blanket place it a respectful distance from the next person. Avoid tossing the Frisbee or playing catch over the heads of fellow beach-goers. Not everyone appreciates loud music, so keep your radio's volume on low. Have fun and SwimSafe-keep a watchful eye on the children in your group. When it's time to head home, politely shake your sandy blanket away from others and don't forget to take your trash home with you.
This summer when you're out creating your own fond memories in Ohio State Parks, remember your Ps & Qs - when you respect the park and other park visitors, you can help ensure that their memories are happy ones, too.
ODNR Office of Communications