Launched as a public awareness program by the U.S. Forest Service in the mid-1980s, a great need, nationally, for an ethics education campaign combined with a lack of adequate funding propelled the management of the program into the private sector. In 1990, through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), a nonprofit foundation was formed to cut red-tape for public/private collaboration and serve as a mechanism to amalgamate public and private funding.
A Model Public/Private Partnership
What began as a philosophy quickly became a model public/private partnership. With a relatively small investment, government agencies have been the primary benefactor from the collective impact of millions of dollars’ worth of quality programs and services. Made possible largely through voluntary funding from the private sector, public agencies have received an estimated 9:1 return on investment. Today, Tread Lightly! is recognized as a credible, non-partisan organization with a unique network of partners delivering critically needed, cost-effective solutions to the nation’s most pressing issues surrounding outdoor recreation. Tread Lightly!’s range of materials, programs and services are unmatched by any other organization within the recreation community, having earned the nonprofit sole-source service provider justification from several public agencies. Tread Lightly!’s community of outdoor enthusiasts is huge – from hunters, campers, anglers and boaters to hiker, bikers, climbers and four-wheelers.
Spectrum of Stakeholders
Our spectrum of stakeholders includes government agencies, industry, media, conservation groups, recreation clubs and concerned individuals who share a common goal—to promote conservation and ensure sustainable outdoor recreation endures as an American lifestyle. Our close federal partners include the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and Army Corps of Engineers. We also work with every state and territory through their park systems or fish and wildlife agencies.