Updated: 2020 Grounds Keepers

December 2019 Update: Welp, there it is. I got the news this week. While I won’t be groundskeeping on behalf of Granite Gear and their 2020 Grounds Keepers crew, I’m more solidly committed do doing my part to leaving the trails and parks I visit better. The process of applying for the crew had me thinking deeply about my commitment and what it means to me to take responsibility for keeping the outdoors a special place for all. If anything it’s solidified for me that I want to do more than I already am. I’ll be looking for ways to lead groups in the effort and spreading the word that every bit helps.

The 2020 crew is pretty amazing and I’m stoked to see the impact they will make on their adventures. I’ve been following several of them for a while and to see the names of the people on this list is inspiring. I’d also recommend following their adventures on your favorite social media channels – IG: @thegroundskeepers – is a great place to start!

So let’s do this. Because #weareallgroundskeepers.

Ruth holding a Groundkeepers sticker while sitting on a bench next to her backpack and a bag of collected garbage at Cold Water Spring park in Minnesota.

On November 15, 2019 I will have applied to be a 2020 Granite Gear Grounds Keeper. What’s that you ask? It’s a group of individuals who commit to cleaning up 300+ miles of public lands in a year. Pretty simple really. Hike, pick up trash, carry trash to a garbage bin or dumpster. Repeat.

2020 will be third year that a group of individuals will be selected to make this commitment to steward the trails they hike and document their efforts. I’m hopeful to be converting this page to an official #groundskeepers page at the end of 2019.

Whether or not that happens, I’m still committed to trail stewardship and Leave No Trace principals on my adventures and in my community. I love and value the lands that I am privileged to hike and camp on. Leaving them with no trace of my presence is my gift to the next person who comes along.

A lot of what I find is what I truly believe is accidental garbage. A corner of a snack wrapper, a lid of a plastic bottle. Even the trash that wildlife pull out of unsecured bins. There are also the items that I know are cast aside with little thought. Cigarette butts, fruit peels and food leftovers. They don’t breakdown quickly and draw wildlife to become less wary of humans. All of it adding up and making wild places seem less wild.

This is what Grounds Keeping looks like…

Being a Grounds Keeper is really pretty easy. A pair of work gloves (safety please!), any old bag or a reusable bag like my #deuterdirtbag or the United by Blue kit (currently available in partnership with REI for Opt Outside day), an old peanut butter jar to put sharps into and, if you’re feeling fancy, a grabber to help you reach things that would be just out of your reach otherwise.

It’s been an interesting experience as I’ve made a concerted effort to keep an eye out for trash on the trails. Once I get started looking, it’s hard to stop. But ever piece feels like a victory over the deluge. I also hope that as I unabashedly pick up trash that those witnessing it, take it up as well. Because #weareallgroundskeepers.

My Grounds Keeper Application Video

As part of my Grounds Keeper application they asked for a short video. We could share anything. Let’s just go on record here that I hate being on video. Posting this is embarrassing. But here it is. Unedited.

Do you think I should be a #groundskeeper?

Feel free to comment below. Ask a question. Let me know what you do to help minimize your impact and keep our public lands clean. Check back at the end of 2019 to see if I’m successful in my bid to be a Granite Gear Grounds Keeper.

*To find out more about Leave No Trace (LNT) principles,
check out the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics
or on the Stewardship Resources page.

Copyright Ruth Wikoff-Jones, ruthsbluemarble.com | No Use Permitted Without Prior Permission

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