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Leave No Trace – Outdoor Green Tips from www.LNT.org
May 7, 2009 - 10:21am — GettingOutside
Pristine and Green! These 7 principles for using natural resources from the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics and the National Park Service will make you a better outdoors-person. They can be applied to hiking, camping and even fishing and will help you to leave nature in its pristine condition.
At GettingOutside.com we encourage people to enjoy the amazing resources that are the National Parks and State Parks of The United States of America. These are sacred places put aside because of their landscapes or habitats which touched people's hearts enough for them to say that this must be preserved. Our own grandchildren will only get to enjoy these parklands if we take responsibility toward the environment and the impact we make on it (for better or sometimes, sadly, for worse). Please, try to leave parks and outdoor spaces as you found then, and, if at all possible, Leave No Trace...
After reading these tips you'll realize that it's not only possible to minimize our impacts we have on nature, in fact, it's really not all that difficult to protect and sustain life after all! In the end, it's about 75 percent common sense, and the rest comes from the benefits of modern science and the study of ecology. Here's what we've learned works:
7 Simple Principles to Help You Practice the Ethic of "Leave No Trace"
#1 Plan Ahead and Prepare
- Know and obey the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
- Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
- Always leave an itinerary with someone at home.
- Visit in small groups (if it's possible, split into smaller groups).
- Be physically and mentally ready for your trip.
- Know the ability of every member of you group.
- Be informed of current weather conditions and other area information.
- Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
- Know and accept risks associated with backcountry experiences.
- Take responsibility for yourself and your group.
- Choose proper equipment and clothing in subdued colors.
- Plan your meals and repackage food into reusable containers to minimize waste.
#2 Travel and Camp only on Durable Surfaces
- Stay on designated trails and hike single file in the middle of the trail, even when the trail is wet or muddy. Never shortcut switchbacks.
- When traveling crosscountry, choose the most durable surfaces available: rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow. Spread out so that you don't grind a path where one didn't exist before.
- When you stop to rest, be careful not to mash vegetation. Sit on rocks, logs, or in clearings.
- Use the designated campsites, and camp in the camp area indicated on your permit. Altering a site is not necessary, i.e., no trenching around tents. Good tent-sites are found, not made.
- Keep campsites small. Restrict activities to the area where vegetation is compacted or absent.
- Use a large plastic water container to collect water so you don't need to make frequent trips to the water source.
#3 Dispose of All Waste and Trash Properly
- When there are vault toilets at all backcountry campgrounds. Use them.
- When there are no toilets pack out all human waste using a portable toilet that can be emptied into an RV dump station or pit toilet.
- If there are no pit toilets nearby, urinate or defecate at least 60 meters (200 feet or 75 adult paces) from water, camp, or trails.
- Urinate in rocky places that won't be damaged by wildlife who dig for salts and minerals found in urine.
- Deposit human waste in cat holes dug 15 - 20 cm (6 - 8 inches) deep. Carry a small garden trowel or lightweight scoop for digging. Cover and disguise the cat hole when finished, or pack out solid waste.
- Use toilet paper sparingly and pack it out along with sanitary napkins, and tampons in an airtight container. Consider using natural toilet paper such as a smooth rock or soft pinecone.
- To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 60 meters (200 feet or 75 adult paces) away from water sources, and use small amounts, if any, of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
- Strain food scraps from wash water and pack them out.
- Pack everything you bring into the backcountry back out, i.e., trash and litter, leftover food.
- Inspect your campsite for trash, spilled food, and evidence of your stay. Pack out all trash: Yours and others'.
- Many Parks Have Signs Reading "Carry In, Carry Out" - Following Leave No Trace Ethics means you will not leave behind anything in the way of wrappers, bottles, cans or other garbage that you took with you.
#4 Leave Whatever You Find
- Treat our natural heritage with respect. Leave plants, rocks, and other natural objects as you find them.
- Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
- Don't build structures, furniture, or dig trenches. Remember, good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site should not be necessary.
- Let nature's sounds prevail (don't make a big comotion if you find something of interest; quietly observe and take in natures granduer in peace - mainly so others can enjoy as well, and so animals are not startled)
#5 Minimize Campfire Impacts
- Wood fires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Always use a lightweight, portable stove for cooking. A wood fire is a luxury, not a necessity. Many places now require a permit in advance for a wood fire or outright ban them.
- Enjoy the sounds and wonders of the darkness, or use a candle lantern instead of a fire.
- When building a fire on beaches, build it preferably below the high tide line so that the fire scar will be washed away within 24 hours.
- Don’t line the fire pit with rocks.
- Build the fire at least 9 meters (30 feet) in all directions from vegetation, flammable material, and the base of bluffs and cliffs.
- Gather only natural driftwood, no larger than an adult's arm, from below the beach’s vegetation line. Leave the wood in their natural form until you are ready to burn them. Scatter any unused driftwood.
- No wood gathering above the beach’s vegetation line. Do not snap branches off live, dead, or downed trees.
- Keep fires smaller than 0.9 meters (36 inches) in diameter at the base.
- Put out fires completely, using water. Never cover the fire or coals with sand.
- Remove, and pack out, all unburned trash from the fire pit.
#6 Respect Wildlife
- Enjoy wildlife at a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
- Never feed wildlife. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
- Protect wildlife and your food by storing your food, scented items and trash securely in the food storage locker provided at your campsite.
- Control pets at all times, or leave them at home. Visit our Pets page for more information on visiting Point Reyes National Seashore with pets.
- Minimize noise.
- Avoid sensitive habitat.
- Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
#7 Be Considerate of Other Visitors
Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
- Turn off cell phones.
- No amplified music in the wilderness.
- Speak softly and avoid making loud noises.
- Allow for others to enjoy the peace and solitude of being in the backcountry.
- Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch, cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
- Visit the backcountry in small parties. More people means more impact.
- Be courteous. Yield to others on the trail.
- Hikers must yield to horse traffic. Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
- Bicyclists must yield to horse and foot traffic.
- Avoid popular areas during times of high use.
- Avoid conflicts.
- Keep a low profile.
- Take breaks and rest well off the trail, on a durable surface of course.
- Let nature’s sounds prevail. Minimize noise. Avoid loud voices and noise.
This copyrighted information has been reprinted with permission from the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org Now you can become Certified in Leave No Trace Guidelines over the internet, but you'll have to go outside to practice what you've learned!
If you want to learn about other ways you can help the environment and protect nature, consider looking into joining the Seirra Club or just reading about their mission to protect life. Also, the World Wide Fund for Nature, another organization founded upon the premise of environmental stewardship (specifically animal rights and protection), is a great organization to support or join.
Both of these organizations and many others are dedicated to realizing a healthy planet and a bright future for all species on this planet. (If you are wondering... WWF was formerly named the "World Wildlife Fund," but they have since changed their name to the World Wide Fund for Nature. Why, we do not know? Personally I think I like the World Wildlife Fund better, but perhaps they have their reasons?)
It's nice to know that people are doing everything in their power to protect the future of life on this planet! Eco-conscious and environmentally-minded (aka, "green") individuals aim to preserve and restore nature so future generations may be able to enjoy a beautiful, green and clean earth and a cool blue sea just as we, ourselves, you and me and everyone living in this developing world, have been given the chance to still enjoy here, now!
We also have plenty more articles here covering all topics green... so check out the Green Outdoors Section of GettingOutside.com!
Here's a link to an important topic of Conservation of Natural Resources and Recycling!