This summer our hometown of Gunnison Crested Butte received a grant from the Colorado Tourism Office to help address the growing poop problem in Colorado’s trails and public lands. The grant involved distributing 3,500 PACT Lite Kits to outdoor enthusiasts across the state at key points of outdoor access (trailheads, visitors centers, ranger stations, etc.). The Doo Colorado Right program represented a significant effort to solve the growing poop problem.
The PACT Lite Kits
PACT Lite Kits were distributed at key points of access throughout the state with the goal of helping to ensure that outdoors enthusiasts were prepared to do their business properly when heading into the outdoors.
Every kit came with a tag that instructed users on how to follow LNT practices as well as where it was acceptable to use the PACT System. It also included a QR code that allowed users to access additional information about backcountry bathroom practices.
We assembled an amazing roster of partners and distribution locations, including state and locally-run visitors centers, ranger district offices, trail organizations, local chambers of commerce, destination management organizations, and more. These organizations were fantastic and helped ensure kits were distributed to every corner of the state including the most highly trafficked areas.
What We Learned
There’s a lot of people in Colorado and elsewhere that are pretty upset about finding mishandled poop on trails, at campsites and in the backcountry. And, they have a right to be! Land managers are responding by restricting access in many popular destinations. Across the U.S. we’re seeing dispersed camping converted to paid, site based. We’re seeing reductions in backcountry permits and even the institution of timed entry systems, all due, in part, to mis-handled poop.
But, here’s the thing we’ve known from conversations with trail organizations and that the Doo Colorado Right program confirmed:
People don't leave poop and TP because they're bad and don't care. They do it because they're naive and unprepared.
The limitation of current education efforts is that poop is an awkward topic to broach with a stranger. When someone comes in to a visitors center, for example, it’s hard to ask them if they’re prepared to poop in the woods. Efforts to educate people on something they do every day can come across as intrusive and preachy.
Here’s what the program does so well: when you give someone a tool, especially one that's interesting and fun, it totally shifts the conversation into a positive. We heard this feedback over and over again from our partners.
“This program allowed us to start a conversation with our visitors and travelers that can otherwise be a very difficult subject to broach – with anyone. Prior to the PACT kit implementation, we learned that the majority of our visitors just didn’t know or understand how “wrong” what they had been doing was...We recognize this program as one of the best to come down the pike in a long time." - Mesa Verde Tourism
"We cannot say enough about the Doo Colorado Right program. Being able to show our visitors the kits, engage in a meaningful conversation about waste with them, and then give them a kit at the end was extremely helpful. We asked all the folks we spoke with to sign our Adventure By Nature pledge after we spoke with them, and we had our highest engagement rate with that program because of the kits. This is such important work." - Leadville-Twin Lakes Tourism
Education is Good. Tools Are Better.
At PACT, we want to solve the poop problem to preserve our ecosystems, and keep our open spaces, open. Human poop should never be a reason we have to reduce access. While it’s fundamental to continue educating the public on best practices through frameworks like Leave No Trace, it’s not enough. The program is proving a core belief of our business:
If we give people better tools,
they'll happily use them for the benefit of everyone.
We’ve reapplied for the grant to continue the Doo Colorado Right program in 2024 with the goal of increasing the number of kits we are distributing while continuing to build awareness about the need for prepared.
Want To Get Involved?
Poop isn’t just an issue in Colorado. Our goal is to bring the Doo Colorado Right model to other states because, we think it works. Is poop a growing issue in your state or region? Do you know trail organizations who are devoting more resources to clean-up and management? Are you noticing restrictions in access to public lands in your area? We'd love to bring this program to your state or region. Reach out to us at email@example.com.
At PACT, we want to empower people with better tools that enhance their outdoor experience while ensuring that we are maintaining the beauty and health of our public lands. It’s great to have our products available at retailers, but the critical points are the ones right before people enter the wilderness— visitors centers, ranger offices and trailheads. Doo Colorado Right represents a solution to this growing problem and we hope to continue to grow it for years to come.