If you’re quite the outdoorsy adventurer you’ve probably learned about the Leave No Trace principles and how to keep it clean in the backcountry. Leave No Trace is simply put -- leaving no trace of being in the outdoors. There are 7 best practices people should follow to enjoy and protect our land and natural spaces, and we’re breaking it all down.
Although we don’t intend to harm or damage our natural surroundings, things like litter, invasive species, trail erosion, polluted water, and more begin to take their toll on the spaces around us. With more than 100 million visitors on more than 10 billion outings in the US each year, we can often forget what kind of impact we are making on our outdoor environments.
Here are the 7 Leave No Trace principles that everyone should respectfully follow.
1. Do Your Research and Prepare
It’s important to do your research so you know the rules and regulations for your destination. You should also prepare for weather and emergencies, schedule trips on low-use times, travel in small groups and carry a map to avoid traveling off trail when you can.
2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
You should be camping and traveling on durable surfaces such as groomed trails, campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses, or snow. You can (and should) also keep campsites small and protect plant and wildlife habitats by camping at least 200 feet from the water.
3. Dispose of Waste Properly
Pack it in, pack it out. Always leave a place cleaner than you found it and of course pack out your food, toilet paper, and hygiene products. If you need to wash your dishes, do not wash them in a lake or stream. Instead, take them 200 feet away and use small amounts of biodegradable soap to prevent water pollution.
4. Leave What You Find
Always leave nature as you find it and “take only pictures, leave only footprints.” In fact, the fewer footprints the better.
5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
Keep fires small and under control by using fire rings where fires are permitted. To clean up after a fire, you should burn all wood and coals to ash, put the fire out completely before leaving the area and scatter the cool ashes around. In other words, “leave no trace” of a fire.
6. Respect Wildlife
You should respect wildlife and observe only from a distance. Make sure your food is stored securely, do not follow, approach, or feed animals and if you have a dog with you, and make sure you have them controlled as well.
7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
You should always respect others and be courteous out on the trails -- don’t be too loud, and take breaks and camp away from trails and others to give a little privacy.
Be safe adventures, and remember to leave no trace!