How To Leave No Trace

Text By Philip Tulin  © All rights reserved.

Once you get in the habit of leaving no trace, it becomes the same as brushing your own teeth. It is easy, protects the environment and at the same time makes you feel good. The resources in the outdoors are not endless and anything that you can do to help our children enjoy the same outdoors is positive.
Leave no trace is exactly what you would think it means. If people were to visit the same place that you just left, they would never know that your were just there. The guidelines on how to leave no trace are basic and anything that has been omitted below can be identified by you. This list is only a starting point. If you leave a place and you can see that you have been there, then add to the list what you just did to not leave no trace. Just use common sense and you will succeed.
Travel In Small Groups
The larger the groups, the tougher it is to leave no trace. With small groups, it is easier to coordinate everything that is needed to be done and everyone will be thinking and doing the same things. If you have a large group, split up.
Make Sure Of Accommodations
Wherever you are going to camp, make sure that the campsite can accommodate the number of people that are in the group. The Maine Island Trail Association publishes a book that indicates what size group can camp and land on each island. Plan ahead and you won't be surprised. It will be much easier to leave no trace. If you are kayaking, make sure of the spot where you can land as sometimes there are only specific landing spots.
Don't Drop Trash
How many times have you been in a beautiful area only to see a gum wrapper or tissue on the ground. Be respectful and don't even drop the littlest piece of paper, even if it is biodegradable.
Stay On The Trail
Trails are built for a reason and they are built to minimize impact on the land. If there is water on the trail and you go around it or if a branch fell over the trail and you go around it, eventually there will be another trail created. And maybe the water will start draining on the off trail and eventually erode the area. If everyone went off trail, it would be disastrous.
Don't build a fire if fires are not allowed where you are camping. If you plan in advance, you will be prepared.
Dispose of all waste properly. Respect all restrictions on human waste in the area that you are camping. Plan menus carefully with the food that you bring so that there will not be any food waste. Make single servings in advance and bring enough Zip lock bags to repackage any food.
Use Established Camp Sites
Don't place your campsite in an area that is not indicating for camping. Plan ahead and read about where each campsite should be placed (high water mark, etc.).
Leave It
Don't take special rocks to remind you of the trip. Don't pick the flowers. Leave everything the way you see now so others may enjoy it, too.
Respect The Wildlife
Sometimes certain trails are closed due to wildlife just born in the area. Don't go into areas that are marked restricted due to the concern of certain wildlife.
Bring The Right Stuff
If you pack the right clothes, boots, tent, etc., it will be easier to leave no trace. When something is missing and you have to improvise, it might takes its toll on the environment.
Know How To Navigate And Stay Single File
If you plan on hiking away from camp, don't break branches, etc. to mark your trail. Learn how to navigate leaving no trace. When hiking with a group, walk in a single file.
Respect All Vegetation
While hiking the Rockies, you are not supposed to go off trail as you would be walking on the Tundra and potentially be killing plants that need to grow. Every footprint on vegetation has the potential of killing a plant. Walk softly.
Don't Camp Too Near The Water
You should never camp within 250 feet from any water (streams, ponds, lakes, etc.) unless it happens to be an established campsite. Anything that is done to help cut down on water pollution is step in the right direction.
These is only a short list of how the leave no trace. As you become more involved in leaving no trace, your own list will include other ways as it is a common sense approach.

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