Protecting Canyon Ecosystems

Sensitive areas

The best way to ensure that sensitive areas and sensitive species thrive is to STAY AWAY. We have lots of canyons that are not permanent homes to sensitive species, and that are not struggling. As responsible canyoneers, we need to commit to staying away from sensitive areas. This includes:

The good news is that in most cases, the land manager will post closure notices, so all we need to do is respect those closures. However, as new canyons are opened, if we discover salmon activity, or other sensitive species, we must commit to adding that to ropewiki.

keeping invasives out

Invasive species are a major threat in Washington State, where the soils, climate, and topography create a hospitable environment for non-native species to thrive. When an aquatic ecosystem is balanced, the water is oxygenated, plants, fish, and animals get the nutrients they need to survive and reproduce, and the downstream impacts are healthy. Invasive species upset the balance by taking over and disrupting the biodiversity of the area.

In Washington, we have a lot of creeks that are pristine - totally or nearly devoid of invasive species. It is up to us to keep them that way. It only takes one seed, or one tiny mollusk, or one cell of an infectious amphibian disease, to infect an entire creek.

The solution: Decontaminate your gear. Every. Time.

See below for instructions and links for a complete decontamination kit for under $50!


Prevention is the only solution. Once invasives enter a creek, it is nearly impossible to remove them. Read about Didymo in NZ for a view of the future we collectively need to avoid.

Here are some practical steps everyone should take:

Wash bin

Handheld Sprayer

5-Gallon Water Jug

This is your water supply for the wash bin and the sprayers.

Household Sprayer

Small Tarp

A small tarp will help you keep things clean as you go through the decontamination process

Small travel liquids container

Use this to bring a small amount of bleach with you.

Whisk Broom

A whisk broom is useful for quickly brushing all potential seeds or other dry "hitchhikers" off of your clothes when you return to the parking lot.

Scrub Brush

This brush covers a lot of surface area and can be used to quickly get the bulk of the debris off of your boots. It won't get into the treads, but that's what the boot brush is for.

Boot Brush

This brush is compact and handy for getting in the treads of your boots. It helps you to remove all debris from your boots before dipping them in a bleach solution!

Dish Soap

When you aren't able to dry your wetsuit in between canyons, soak it for 2 hours in a dish detergent solution. Use a full 7oz bottle for 5 gallons of water. This is especially important in The North Cascades, Mount Rainier, and wilderness canyons.