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These 5 American mountain towns want tourists to be more responsible when they visit

These 5 American mountain towns want tourists to be more responsible when they visit
[Photo: Jeremy Bishop/Unsplash]

Tourism pledges are all the rage these days, with countries like PalauIceland, and New Zealand, and destinations like Big Sur and Hawaii, all asking tourists to stop and think about the place they are visiting and the impact they may have there. It’s all an effort to slow over-tourism and lessen the environmental impact of a steady stream of visitors to beautiful, delicate natural places. Now a consortium of western U.S. cities have teamed up for their own version, a conservation program called “Pledge for the Wild,” which launched this week.

The mountain towns of Bend, Oregon; Bozeman, Montana; Steamboat Springs, Colorado; Flagstaff, Arizona; and South Lake Tahoe, which extends between California and Nevada, are asking visitors to help protect the outdoor places they love. Each city hopes to ensure the future of the wild spaces in their communities, whether Smith Rock in Bend or the Rocky Mountains in Steamboat Springs or Bozeman’s Big Sky. They are asking visitors to be more aware of their impact—and perhaps donate a few bucks to local environmental charities while they’re at it.

While Palau’s pledge is stamped in visitors’ passports and Iceland’s is an online form, Pledge for the Wild has a text-to-donate service where people can, for example, text “WILD4BOZEMAN” to 44321 and donate whatever amount they think the natural world is worth. According to the ads promoting the campaign, the suggested donation is just $1 per hour spent in a wild area. Kevney Dugan, CEO of Visit Bend, told Skift that the campaign was inspired in part by the One Percent for the Planet initiative, which was cofounded by Patagonia CEO Yvon Chouinard. After seeing the effectiveness of that campaign, they decided to keep the suggested donation amount low to encourage more people to participate.

Whatever amount people donate, the money is then directed to a local environmental nonprofit, like Bozeman’s Gallatin Valley Land TrustDeschutes Trails Coalition, or TahoeFund.org. To promote the campaign and encourage nature lovers on their own Cheryl Strayed-inspired nature hikes or Free Solo rock climbs to donate, Pledge for the Wild is promoting the campaign on social media, on the radio, and, naturally, on coasters in local brewpubs, which is where most nature lovers hang out.

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We’re super stoked to announce that we’ve teamed up with four other mountain towns around the west including @visit_bozeman, @discoverflagstaff, @steamboatcolorado, and @tahoesouth to launch Pledge for the Wild, a new initiative to protect our wild places. How can you get involved? Next time you come visit us, consider making a small donation to give back to the organizations keeping the wild places in Bend special by texting WILD4BEND to 44321. Click the link in our profile to learn more! ⁣ ⁣.⁣ ⁣.⁣ ⁣.⁣ ⁣#pledgewild #keepitwild #staywild #playoutside #optoutside #getoutside #outsideisntfree #wildernessculture #lifeofadventure #getoutstayout #takemoreadventures #getoutgiveback #visitbend⁣ ⁣

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