As you head outdoors for recreational activities, the three most important words to remember are: Leave No Trace. Leave No Trace is a nonprofit organization that seeks to advocate the responsible use of environmental resources. They accomplish this through educating others about their collection of outdoor ethics, referred to as the Seven Principles.
The purpose of these values is to minimize the impact outdoor recreation (camping, hiking, fishing, hunting, backpacking, and more) has on the Earth for future generation. It promotes behavior that is considerate of both the environment and other people.
The Seven Principles of Leave No Trace are:
1. Planning Ahead – According to Leave No Trace, preparation means knowing ahead of time any special regulations or considerations for the area you will be visiting and scheduling your trip to avoid times of peak use. It also means breaking up into smaller groups, reducing food waste by repackaging it, and navigating with maps and compasses instead of cairns or paint.
2. Traveling and Camping on Established Trails and Sites – Stay on marked paths as much as possible and camp on sites already created. Leave No Trace recommends concentrating activity on durable surfaces including rock, dry grasses, gravel, and snow. Great campsites should be found and hikers should travel single file on already established trails.
3. Get Rid of Waste Appropriately – If you pack it in, be sure to pack it out! This includes trash, any food that is leftover, personal items, and toilet paper. Human waste should be placed in catholes at least 200 feet from trails or water and then covered. Employ biodegradable soap to wash clothes or kitchen items.
4. Leave Anything You Find – If you find items of cultural or historic value, leave them where you found them. Refrain from building structures not already present including trenches. As much as possible, try not to disturb rocks and plants. Be aware of any potential you might have to transport and introduce non-native species.
5. Reduce the Impact of Campfires – Use existing rings, fire pans, or fire mounds. Consider bringing your own firewood and tinder. Keep fires as small as possible and make sure they are completely out before leaving the area.
6. Be Respectful of Wildlife – If you encounter wildlife, keep a good distance away. It is never a good idea to approach wild animals or feed them. Keep food away from animals by securing food and trash. If you bring a pet with you, make sure that they are under your control at all times.
7. Show Consideration for Other Visitors – Remember that other people will be enjoying the outdoors as well. Yield to others on the trail and step to the downhill side when allowing others to pass. Take breaks away from the trail and camp a good distance from other visitors. Try to prevent loud noises and voices.
by Rebecca Maxwell – www.survivalbased.com
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