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7 Principles of Leave No Trace

7 Principles of Leave No Trace

Why is it important to Leave No Trace?

As lovers of the outdoors, it’s important to preserve and protect nature. Leaving No Trace helps minimize the impact on plants, animals, and entire ecosystems. These practices should be applied in all outdoor environments, so we can keep our planet safe, and preserve its beauty. These principles were established by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics.

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare

  • Adequate trip planning and preparation helps backcountry travelers accomplish trip goals safely and enjoyably, while simultaneously minimizing damage to the land.
  • Poor planning often results in miserable campers and damage to natural and cultural resources. Rangers often tell stories of campers they have encountered who, because of poor planning and unexpected conditions, degrade backcountry resources and put themselves at risk.

2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

  • Travel on trails.
  • Selecting an appropriate campsite is perhaps the most important aspect of low-impact backcountry use.
  • Avoid camping close to water and trails and select a site which is not easily visible to others.
  • Camping at least 200 feet (70 adult steps) away from the water’s edge is recommended because it allows access routes for wildlife.

3. Dispose of Waste Properly

  • In most locations, burying human feces in the correct manner is the most effective method to meet these criteria.
  • Use toilet paper sparingly and use only plain, white, non-perfumed brands.
  • Plan meals to avoid generating messy, smelly garbage. It is critical to wildlife that we pack out kitchen waste, such as bacon grease and leftovers.

4. Leave What You Find

  • Leave areas as you found them.
  • Natural objects of beauty or interest such as antlers, petrified wood or colored rocks add to the mood of the backcountry and should be left so others can experience a sense of discovery.
  • If you clear an area of surface rocks, twigs or pinecones replace these items before leaving
  • Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
  • Preserve the past: examine, photograph, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.

5. Minimize Campfire Impacts

  • What is the fire danger for the time of year and the location you have selected?
  • Are there administrative restrictions from the agency that manages the area?
  • Is there sufficient wood so its removal will not be noticeable?
  • Does the harshness of alpine and desert growing conditions for trees and shrubs mean that the regeneration of wood sources cannot keep pace with the demand for wood?
  • Do group members possess the skills to build a campfire that will Leave No Trace?
  • Provide adequate supervision for young people when using stoves or fires.
  • Follow all product and safety labels for stoves.
  • Use approved containers for fuel.
  • Never leave a fire unattended.
  • Keep wood and other fuel sources away from fire.
  • Thoroughly extinguish all fires.

6. Respect Wildlife

  • Observe wildlife from a distance so they are not scared or forced to flee.
  • Travel quietly and do not pursue, feed or force animals to flee.
  • Do not touch, get close to, feed or pick up wild animals.
  • If you find sick animals or animals in trouble you should notify a game warden.
  • Washing and human waste disposal must be done carefully so the environment is not polluted, and animals and aquatic life are not injured.

7. Be Considerate of Others

  • Groups leading or riding pack stock have the right-of-way on trails. Hikers and bicyclists should move off the trail to the downhill side.
  • Talk quietly to the riders as they pass, since horses are spooked easily.
  • Be respectful of your noise levels.
  • When selecting a campsite, choose a site where rocks or trees will screen it from others' view.
  • Keep noise down in camp so as not to disturb other campers or those passing by on the trail.

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