Limiting our Impact with Leave No Trace

The Outside World Outfitters community is committed to spreading the love for the great outdoors and sharing the experiences we get to have outside, but being able to access the wild and natural places we love comes with responsibility.

We love to see the growing interest in spending time outside and immersing yourself in nature, but that also leads to a growing human impact on our environment. More people generally means more foot traffic, more trash, and more disturbances to wildlife.

However, there are steps we can take to ensure that we leave our precious natural places in the state that we found them, and preserve it for generations to come.

Introducing: The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics.

You’ve probably heard of them as simply Leave No Trace. This national organization educates the public on how individuals can lessen their impact on the natural world, and how to experience the outdoors responsibly. They are committed to ensuring that we protect our land for future generations to enjoy.

So, what are some steps you can take to minimize your impact on the places you love? Here we’ll list The Leave No Trace Seven Principles. For more information, click this link to be taken to Leave No Trace’s website. There you can find even more in-depth information on why Leave No Trace is important, and how they came up with the Seven Principles.

Leave No Trace Seven Principles

The Leave No Trace Seven Principles are the bedrock of the Leave No Trace program. They provide guidance to enjoy our natural world in a sustainable way that avoids human-created impacts. The principles have been adapted so they can be applied in your backyard or your backcountry.

Note: click any of the headers below for a much deeper explanation on each principle.

Plan Ahead and Prepare

Compass map be prepared
Be prepared, and know where you are!
  • Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you’ll visit.
  • Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies
  • Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use
  • Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups
  • Repackage food to minimize waste.
  • Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.

Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

  • Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
  • Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
  • Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
    • In popular areas:
      • Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
      • Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
      • Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
      • In pristine areas:
      • Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
      • Avoid places where impacts are just beginning

Dispose of Waste Properly

  • Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
  • Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
  • Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
  • To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.

Leave What you Find

  • Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
  • Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
  • Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
  • Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.

    Man traveler cooking in pot on stove burner relaxing in camping tent Travel Lifestyle concept vacations outdoor mountains vacations
    Limit use of campfires, use a small stove instead!

Minimize Campfire Impacts

  • Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the environment. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
  • Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
  • Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
  • Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.

Respect Wildlife

  • Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
  • Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
  • Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
  • Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
  • Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter

Be Considerate of Other Visitors

hiking leave no trace
Stay on the trail!
  • Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
  • Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
  • Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
  • Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
  • Let nature’s sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.

© 1999 by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor



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