Leave No Trace: An Overview

dr-allen-cherer-natureEveryone has a right to enjoy nature and a responsibility to protect it. The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics provides guidelines for using public lands. The Leave No Trace ethic teaches seven principles to ensure environmental sustainability and enjoyment for all.


Plan Ahead and Prepare


Venturers should plan their travel in advance. They should account for weather, travelers’ skills, and knowledge of the geographic area to know to avoid damaging natural surroundings and keep everyone safe.


Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces


Explorers should navigate nature without damaging waterways and surfaces. They should understand how travel can impact the terrain, such as how trampling can permanently destroy the vegetation. Hikers should stick to recognized trails and campsites to prevent forging unnatural pathways.


Dispose of Waste Properly


Outdoor travelers should “Pack it in, pack it out” if they produce human waste or garbage. People need to dispose of refuse and human waste properly. Campers also need to inspect their areas for trash and to pick it up before leaving.


Leave What You Find


People should leave rocks, flowers, and artifacts behind for others to enjoy. If people clear an area for camping by removing rocks, twigs, and leaves, they should replace the items before departure. It’s also essential to dismantle fire rings, make-shift tables, or structures.


Minimize Campfire Impacts


Instead of building a fire and risking damage to a site, campers should consider using camping stoves. Some stoves are flexible and lightweight, and they burn efficiently. If individuals want to build a fire, they should do so where wood is abundant and leave no trace of the fire.


Respect Wildlife


It’s best to admire animals from a distance. Getting closer or making quick or loud movements could put humans in danger or force the animals to bolt. Larger groups are more likely to disturb wildlife than small ones. Travelers should never feed wild animals.


Be Considerable of Other Visitors


Making excessive noise, playing music, or letting pets get out of control can disturb others who wish to enjoy nature’s tranquility. When using congested pathways, trekkers should show courtesy when passing. They can announce their presence when approaching from behind.