If you spend much time exploring our great outdoors, you have likely heard the phrase “Leave No Trace”, but what does that mean. Simply, it’s the best practices we should follow so we can enjoy and protect nature. Each year in the US, over 100 million visitors explore our natural spaces. Impacted areas suffer from litter, trail erosion, polluted water sources, fire damage, and more.
Before you take your next excursion to the great outdoors, embrace the practices of “Leave No Trace” below and do your part to conserve our beautiful habitat.
Plan ahead and prepare
When you are prepared, you will run into less problems, and be less likely to make poor choices. Part of being prepared includes knowing the regulations of where you will be visiting, preparing for the weather, and packaging food to minimize waste.
Travel and camp on durable surfaces
It is best to stick to established trails and campsites so you don’t destroy vegetation. Also make sure campsites are at least 200 feet from water sources to avoid polluting it.
Dispose of waste properly
If you bring it in, you bring it out. Having a garbage bag along allows you to pack up any of your waste and easily carry it. Bring multiple bags so you can sort your waste out. Go a step further by picking up garbage you see along the trail. Also, use biodegradeable soap and toothpaste. These products have a negative impact on the environment, and can take a long time to degrade in the wilderness. Also, be sure you are 200 feet from any water source when using. Practice these same precautions when it comes to your sunscreen and bug repellant.
Leave what you find
Remember the adage “take only pictures, leave only footprints”. You want to observe, but not touch. Don’t build structures, be sure you preserve the past, and avoid introducing non-native species by cleaning supplies between trips.
Minimize campfire impacts
Follow fire restrictions for your area. When fires are permitted, use established fire rings, and keep fires small. Don’t bring firewood from home, as that can introduce new pests and diseases. When it’s time to put the fire out, ensure it is out completely.
Don’t approach animals, or feed them. Store your food safely so wildlife cannot get to it. If you bring your pets with you, keep them on a leash.
Be considerate of other visitors
Respect other visitors to protect the quality of their experience. Yield to others on the trail, and keep noise levels down to let nature’s sound prevail. To learn more go to https://lnt.org/.
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