Leave No Trace: Minimum Impact Outdoor Recreation


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It increases self-confidence and opportunities for learning more about nature Things to Consider When Planning a Trip Identify the skill and ability of your group. Gain knowledge of the area you plan to visit from land managers, maps, and literature. Choose equipment and clothing for comfort, safety, and Leave No Trace qualities. Plan trip activities to match your goals, skills, and abilities. Travel on Trails Land management agencies construct trails to provide identifiable routes that concentrate foot and stock traffic.

Concentrating travel on trails reduces the likelihood that multiple routes will develop and scar the landscape. It is better to have one well-designed route than many poorly chosen paths. Travel Off-trail All travel that does not utilize a designed trail such as travel to remote areas, searches for bathroom privacy, and explorations near and around campsites is defined as off-trail.

Durability refers to the ability of surfaces or vegetation to withstand wear or remain in a stable condition. Frequency of use and large group size increase the likelihood that a large area will be trampled, or that a small area will be trampled multiple times. Human Waste Proper disposal of human waste is important to avoid pollution of water sources, avoid the negative implications of someone else finding it, minimize the possibility of spreading disease and maximize the rate of decomposition.

#2: Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces

In most locations, burying human feces in the correct manner is the most effective method to meet these criteria. Solid human waste must be packed out from some places, such as narrow river canyons. Land management agencies can advise you of specific rules for the area you plan to visit. As more and more people enjoy parks and protected areas every year, packing out human waste is likely to become a more common practice to ensure long-term sustainability of our shared lands. In some environments, particularly in fragile alpine settings, land managers may require that all solid human waste must be packed out.

Learn how to bury your waste by digging a cat hole. Any user of recreation lands has a responsibility to clean up before he or she leaves. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash and garbage.


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Plan meals to avoid generating messy, smelly garbage. It is critical to wildlife that we pack out kitchen waste, such as bacon grease and leftovers. Garbage that is half-burned or buried will still attract animals and make a site unattractive to other visitors. Before moving on from a camp or resting place, search the area for micro-trash such as bits of food and trash, including organic litter like orange peels or pistachio shells.

Wastewater To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water feet away from streams or lakes. Scatter strained dishwater. For dishwashing, use a clean pot or other container to collect water, and take it to a wash site at least feet away from water sources. This lessens trampling of lakeshores, riverbanks and springs, and helps keep soap and other pollutants out of the water. Use hot water, elbow grease, and soap if absolutely necessary. Strain dirty dishwater with a fine mesh strainer before scattering it broadly.

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Do this well away from camp, especially if bears are a concern. Pack out the contents of the strainer in a plastic bag along with any uneaten leftovers. Always wash yourself well away from shorelines feet , and rinse with water carried in a pot or jug. This allows the soil to act as a filter. Where fresh water is scarce, think twice before swimming in creeks or potholes. Lotion, sunscreen, insect repellent and body oils can contaminate these vital water sources.

Should You Build a Fire? The most important consideration when deciding to use a fire is the potential damage to the backcountry. What is the fire danger for the time of year and the location you have selected? Are there administrative restrictions from the agency that manages the area? Is there sufficient wood so its removal will not be noticeable?

Do group members possess the skills to build a campfire that will Leave No Trace? Firewood and Cleanup Standing trees, dead or alive, are home to birds and insects, so leave them intact. Fallen trees also provide bird and animal shelter, increase water holding capacity of the soil, and recycle nutrients back into the environment through decomposition. Avoid cutting or breaking branches from standing or downed trees. Dead and down wood burns easily, is easy to collect and leaves less impact. Use small pieces of wood, no larger than the diameter of an adult wrist, that can be broken with your hands.

Either buy it from a local source or gather it responsibly where allowed. Burn all wood to white ash, grind small coals to ash between your gloved hands, thoroughly soak with water, and scatter the remains over a large area away from camp. Ashes may have to be packed out in river corridors. Replace soil where you found it when cleaning up a mound or pan fire.

Scatter unused wood to keep the area as natural looking as possible. Pack out any campfire litter. The final product of this initial work, eventually published in , was a reference handbook on 75 practices that could generally be recommended Cole Each practice was described, along with sample messages and a discussion of the problem the practice seeks to avoid and the rationale for its use.

Four frequently recommended practices judged to be counterproductive were identified, as were eight practices that are only appropriate in certain situations. Thousands of copies of this handbook were distributed. With the wealth of information this effort produced, a logical next step was to develop a book on low-impact practices. Although a few camping and backpacking books included low-impact suggestions e. Like the NOLS Conservation Practices, there was a section on general practices, followed by sections specific to deserts, rivers and lakes, coasts, arctic and alpine tundra, snow and ice, and bear country Hampton and Cole One of the major challenges was condensing 75 practices and book pages into a minute video.

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Leave No Trace trainer course

The first set of six principles he proposed were:. The video was filmed in the Popo Agie Wilderness in and completed in the summer of Compared to the disparate and often inconsistent nature of earlier educational messages, by substantial progress had been made in systematizing the Leave No Trace message. Building on the foundation provided by early proponents of low-impact education — including Wayne Anderson , Tom Alt, Jim Bradley, John Hart, and the Watermans — NOLS and the Forest Service had produced a report on practices, a booklet on general practices, regional guidelines to supplement the general practices, a full-length book, a video, and a set of LNT principles.

During this same period, steps were taken to institutionalize the dissemination of this information. Five more five-day courses were conducted in BLM wilderness areas over the next three years. These courses became the prototype for the LNT Masters courses that began in NOLS instructors participated in this annual training session for many years. In , efforts to bring collaboration, cooperation, and consistency to both the Leave No Trace message and how it is disseminated came together.

The 7 Principles - Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics

Thompson envisioned a three-pronged approach to education — public awareness, research, and user education. This course would train a cadre of agency LNT Masters in skills, ethics, and training methods so they, in turn, could train more agency staff and the general public. They also had a wealth of material readily available for curriculum development. Their Conservation Practices booklet was the basis for a page booklet on general LNT practices, published in , organized according to the LNT principles first outlined in the Soft Paths video. For those interested in more detail on practices, their rationale, and their scientific basis, the Soft Paths book was available.

For visual learners, there was the Soft Paths video. This general treatment was supplemented by booklets tailored to specific environments and activity types — something that was easily done given that NOLS regional guidelines had already been developed and Soft Paths had chapters specific to different environments.

Each was built around Soft Paths and the LNT principles, supplemented by research findings, local expertise, and consultation with land managers.

Perhaps the greatest challenge was to develop the ethics and experiential training aspects of the LNT program, although as an outdoor leadership school, NOLS had ideas about this part of the program. Anderson was concerned about increasing impact in the Bridger Wilderness, particularly by Boy Scouts and outfitters.


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Enthusiasm for national Leave No Trace programs and the train-the-trainers approach grew exponentially. They also co-instructed some Master Educators courses. For this purpose, they produced and sold booklets, videos, posters, and other materials through a website and toll-free telephone number Marion and Reed The LNT principles evolved over time.

Since , the seven LNT principles have remained:. By , 11 region- or activity-specific booklets and curricula had been produced, and 12 different Master Educators courses were being taught across the United States, addressing region-appropriate practices for hiking and backpacking, canoeing and rafting, sea kayaking, and backcountry horse use Swain Photo by Jeffrey Marion. The success and popularity of the LNT program inevitably led to tensions within and among partners.

As interest in materials and courses grew, more resources had to be devoted to the program. Tensions between NOLS and the agencies surfaced, particularly as program costs rose. Other outfitting organizations — Boy Scouts, Outward Bound, and others — wanted a more active participatory role in LNT programs and trainings.

As early as , Jim Ratz recognized that the next step in the maturation of the LNT program would be spinning it off into its own organization. At a outdoor recreation summit, various outdoor industry and sporting trade associations, NOLS, nonprofit organizations, outdoor manufacturers, and federal land management agencies decided to create an independent nonprofit organization. This model was working successfully for motorized recreation, with the private nonprofit Tread Lightly, Inc.

Tread Lightly, Inc. In , the Center entered into the first of a series of MOUs with the four primary federal land management agencies. As reported by Marion and Reid , the organization rapidly gained momentum with the support of 24 agency, commercial, and nonprofit partners. It had 17 paid staff, a member volunteer board of directors, 5 advisors from its federal land management agency partners, 48 volunteer state advocates, and more than 25, volunteers Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics The Army Corps of Engineers joined the original four federal land management agencies under the MOU, and, in , the National Association of State Parks Directors, the governing organization for state parks in the United States, and the Center developed a formal affiliate partnership to expand the possible use of the Leave No Trace program on state park lands.

This campsite is on the verge of becoming well-established and highly-impacted. Leave-No-Trace suggests that such sites be avoided by recreationists, who might choose either a site that is already well-impacted or a site without evidence of previous use. Since , the Center has developed a comprehensive, three-tiered training system, encompassing field courses such as the five-day Master Educator course and workshops that range from one hour to two days.

A Traveling Trainer Program consisting of teams of mobile educators travels throughout the continental United States teaching Leave No Trace and providing grassroots support to build Leave No Trace education and outreach programs at the local level. Research and citizen science programs have been developed. Programs increasingly target frontcountry areas, as well as the backcountry, and an increasingly diverse array of communities and the young. One can think of the Leave No Trace program as having developed in three distinct stages, each with different main players.

The period of initial creation lasted an indeterminate number of decades, ending about Numerous independent people, mostly field rangers, came up with the original LNT practices, largely in an independent and uncoordinated manner. Unfortunately, who these players were and what they produced will remain largely unknown, although some examples of early low-impact brochures and other printed materials remain.

The second period — one of formation, coordination, and institutionalization — lasted from through At the end of this period, the LNT curriculum was well established, with videos, a book, principles, and booklets for different ecosystem and activity types. Outreach and training programs were established, funded and guided by interagency LNT program managers. Most messages were developed independently, based on the observations and experience of rangers and other concerned individuals. Sometimes messages were inconsistent.

Should all fire rings be broken up or should one be left to encourage repeat use? Guidelines were inconsistent. Should you camp feet from lakes or feet?

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Terminology was inconsistent. Are we talking about minimum impact or low-impact camping, no trace, or leave no trace? Unfortunately it is impossible to credit all the individuals who developed the behavioral suggestions that provide the foundation for the Leave No Trace program. There were many. The difficulty of precisely identifying the origin of Leave No Trace is not unique. We cannot trace the precise origin of efforts to educate people about the risks of starting wildfires. But we do know that the Smokey Bear campaign began on August 9, , when the Forest Service and the Ad Council agreed that a fictional bear named Smokey would be their symbol for forest fire prevention, and artist Albert Staehle was asked to paint the first poster of Smokey Bear.

Similarly, despite being unable to identify the precise origin of Leave No Trace, we can identify by whom, when, and how the Leave No Trace message came to be made consistent and coherent and the dissemination of Leave No Trace messages came to be institutionalized. Figure 2 — At first, attempts to educate visitors about how to lessen their impact were spread word of mouth.

Here, a wilderness ranger talks to backpackers in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Washington. Something like the Leave No Trace program would eventually have developed if it had not developed in the manner in which it did. However, the program we know today can be traced to a particular event — much the way the Smokey Bear program can be traced to August This was shortly after most of these invitees had attended the first wilderness research conference in Fort Collins, Colorado. On that trip, Ratz shared his interest in having NOLS fund wilderness research and partner with the land management agencies, particularly to improve low-impact messaging and share what NOLS called its Conservation Practices.

All agreed it was time to systematize the message and institutionalize the delivery of that message.

Figure 3 — This pamphlet, distributed by the Northern Region of the Forest Service starting in , was another early attempt to educate visitors. Work began shortly thereafter on developing a more coherent and science-based set of low-impact messages. His task was to collect a diverse array of low-impact messages from different agencies and sources around the country. The sources that were collected — close to a hundred — are listed in Cole These were sorted into a single coherent set of recommendations, after confirming their basis in science and resolving any conflict between recommendations.

The first product of this work was a revision, completed in , of the NOLS Conservation Practices — a page booklet with sections on backcountry travel, campsite selection and use, fires and stoves, sanitation, and waste disposal. Recognizing the need to adapt messages to the different environments where NOLS led courses, the next product was a set of regional guidelines, with conservation practices specific to travel in deserts, in areas at high altitude or latitude, on snow and ice, and along coastlines.

Both the general practices and the environment-specific practices are reproduced in Cole The final product of this initial work, eventually published in , was a reference handbook on 75 practices that could generally be recommended Cole Each practice was described, along with sample messages and a discussion of the problem the practice seeks to avoid and the rationale for its use.

Four frequently recommended practices judged to be counterproductive were identified, as were eight practices that are only appropriate in certain situations. Thousands of copies of this handbook were distributed. With the wealth of information this effort produced, a logical next step was to develop a book on low-impact practices.

Although a few camping and backpacking books included low-impact suggestions e. Like the NOLS Conservation Practices, there was a section on general practices, followed by sections specific to deserts, rivers and lakes, coasts, arctic and alpine tundra, snow and ice, and bear country Hampton and Cole One of the major challenges was condensing 75 practices and book pages into a minute video. The first set of six principles he proposed were:. The video was filmed in the Popo Agie Wilderness in and completed in the summer of Compared to the disparate and often inconsistent nature of earlier educational messages, by substantial progress had been made in systematizing the Leave No Trace message.

Building on the foundation provided by early proponents of low-impact education — including Wayne Anderson , Tom Alt, Jim Bradley, John Hart, and the Watermans — NOLS and the Forest Service had produced a report on practices, a booklet on general practices, regional guidelines to supplement the general practices, a full-length book, a video, and a set of LNT principles.

During this same period, steps were taken to institutionalize the dissemination of this information. Five more five-day courses were conducted in BLM wilderness areas over the next three years. These courses became the prototype for the LNT Masters courses that began in NOLS instructors participated in this annual training session for many years. In , efforts to bring collaboration, cooperation, and consistency to both the Leave No Trace message and how it is disseminated came together.

Thompson envisioned a three-pronged approach to education — public awareness, research, and user education. This course would train a cadre of agency LNT Masters in skills, ethics, and training methods so they, in turn, could train more agency staff and the general public. They also had a wealth of material readily available for curriculum development.

Their Conservation Practices booklet was the basis for a page booklet on general LNT practices, published in , organized according to the LNT principles first outlined in the Soft Paths video. For those interested in more detail on practices, their rationale, and their scientific basis, the Soft Paths book was available.

For visual learners, there was the Soft Paths video. This general treatment was supplemented by booklets tailored to specific environments and activity types — something that was easily done given that NOLS regional guidelines had already been developed and Soft Paths had chapters specific to different environments. Each was built around Soft Paths and the LNT principles, supplemented by research findings, local expertise, and consultation with land managers.

Perhaps the greatest challenge was to develop the ethics and experiential training aspects of the LNT program, although as an outdoor leadership school, NOLS had ideas about this part of the program. Anderson was concerned about increasing impact in the Bridger Wilderness, particularly by Boy Scouts and outfitters. Enthusiasm for national Leave No Trace programs and the train-the-trainers approach grew exponentially. They also co-instructed some Master Educators courses.

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For this purpose, they produced and sold booklets, videos, posters, and other materials through a website and toll-free telephone number Marion and Reed The LNT principles evolved over time.

Leave No Trace: Minimum Impact Outdoor Recreation Leave No Trace: Minimum Impact Outdoor Recreation
Leave No Trace: Minimum Impact Outdoor Recreation Leave No Trace: Minimum Impact Outdoor Recreation
Leave No Trace: Minimum Impact Outdoor Recreation Leave No Trace: Minimum Impact Outdoor Recreation
Leave No Trace: Minimum Impact Outdoor Recreation Leave No Trace: Minimum Impact Outdoor Recreation
Leave No Trace: Minimum Impact Outdoor Recreation Leave No Trace: Minimum Impact Outdoor Recreation
Leave No Trace: Minimum Impact Outdoor Recreation Leave No Trace: Minimum Impact Outdoor Recreation
Leave No Trace: Minimum Impact Outdoor Recreation Leave No Trace: Minimum Impact Outdoor Recreation
Leave No Trace: Minimum Impact Outdoor Recreation Leave No Trace: Minimum Impact Outdoor Recreation
Leave No Trace: Minimum Impact Outdoor Recreation

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