We are devastated by the state of many of our National Parks and Monuments. It’s a great time to review the seven principles of Leave No Trace. These are critical, not only in our National Parks, but in all outdoor areas.
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.
Here are several ideas on how to keep your neighborhood beautiful!