Leave No Trace

The outdoors are facing serious threats. Ensuring people practice Leave No Trace is essential.

Warm fireplace with lots of trees ready for barbecue. Charcoal of an extinct fire in the forest. Close-up. Natural background
1.

Plan Ahead and Prepare

Check the weather. Trails need to be dry enough to walk on. You can call the ranger station or your local park to check on conditions. Learn about the area you are exploring. Grab a map. If the trails do not have a paper map, take a photo of the sign. Read the times for when parks open and close.

2.

Travel and Camp on Stable Surfaces

Stay on marked paths. Keep your camping footprint small. Don’t spread out all over and stay where you will have the least impact on your surroundings.

3.

Dispose of Waste Properly

Use proper bathroom facilities if able. If “nature calls” while out on trail, do your business 200 feet away from the trail and water sources. Bring a trash bag to keep all your food waste and wrappers. Instead of putting wrapping in your pocket, stick in your bag that you way you know it will not fall out. Take all fruit cores and peels with you. Most fruits and nuts are not local to the area, which means that it can take longer to biodegrade and disrupt the ecosystem.

4.

Leave what you Find and Preserve the Past

It can be tempting to take leaves, rocks, etc. Take a photo – it will last longer. Even removing something small, can disrupt the ecosystem. Examine, but do not touch, cultural or historic structures and artifacts.

5.

Minimize Campfire Impacts

Follow all fire regulations. When making a campfire, find or create a fire ring. Again, check the weather. Dry leaves can impact the area. DO NOT bring wood from home. You could possibly introduce new diseases or pest to the area. Buy from a local source.

6.

Respect Wildlife

Learn what animals or plants will be in the area. Most animals are afraid of you. If you want to take a photo, make sure you are not disturbing or frightening them. Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers. Store food and trash securely. Control pets at all times or leave them at home. Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, etc.

7.

Be Considerate of other Visitors

Wave and say hello! If you’re camping, keep your volume down when quiet hours begin.

Leave No Trace in Your Neighborhood

Check out all the ways you can support Leave No Trace Principles in your neighborhood

  • Learn more about your local parks. Most parks have special clean-up days on their calendar. If they do not, suggest to start hosting clean-up meetups.
  • Find out about the stewardship projects that are going on. Many local neighborhoods will host block party events around stewardship – creating a community garden, trash clean-up, and more. If not, start one!
  • When you go for a walk in your neighborhood, take a trash bag with you. You’d be amazed what you will see if you train yourself to look. Bring gloves!
  • Get the kids involved. Make a contest out of cleaning up. Every kid who picks up 20 pieces of trash gets a prize!
  • Get a group of your friends together and just get out there and do it! It’s never the wrong time to do the right thing.

If you want to help at a National Park, some have local volunteer groups that help maintain parks and trails. We will continue to add to this list.

Here are a few organizations you can get involved with to learn more about land stewardship.