Leave No Trace: the outdoor ethics

“Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time”

When we choose to participate in the outdoors, this is because we love the beauty of nature. Whether it’s hiking in dense forests, paddling immense lakes or fast-flowing rivers and spending the evening in this natural surroundings, it’s important to have an understanding of the basic guidelines and principles of Leave No Trace.

Nature is what is given to us and should be respected. These principles will allow us to minimise our impact and conserve the integrity of the outdoors we love getting out and experiencing.

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare

  • Do your research. Depending on the trip, this can take 30 minutes up to many months.
  • Know the regulations. Do you need permits? What kind of wildlife lives in this area? Can you make a fire?
  • Check the weather.
  • Have an emergency plan. What are the hazards and what are you going to do if someone is hurt?
  • Let someone know where you are going to and when you plan to be back.

2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

The general rule here is if a trail or campsite exists – stick to it. If a trail or campsite does not exist – do your best not to create one.

  • Use existing trails and campsites
  • Stay on the trail – no cutting switchbacks!
  • Avoid fragile surfaces like vegetation and riparian zones (that’s the area near a water source).
  • Protect water sources by camping 50 meters away from water.

3. Dispose of Waste Properly

  • Simple – we want to leave places as good or better than we found them. Pack out all your trash and any you find along the way.
  • If there’s a bathroom USE IT. If not, poop 50m away from water, trails and camp and dig a hole.
  • To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 50m away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap or no soap at all.

4. Leave What you Find

This one is easy. See something you like? Take a picture and leave it where you found it.

5. Minimize Campfire Impacts

  • Use designated fire pits
  • Make sure no fire ban is in effect
  • Gather only wood from already dead and downed trees
  • Keep your fires small and in control.
  • As an alternative, use a lightweight stove to cook your food and enjoy that big beautiful sky full of stars.
  • Never leave a campfire unattended. Make sure the fire is put out completely before going to sleep.

6. Respect Wildlife

  • Observe animals from a safe distance.
  • Never feed wildlife! It is unhealthy and is brings out bad habits and negative interactions with humans.
  • Store your food and trash safely. Especially when in bear country.
  • Easy with the dogs. Keep your dog under control and don’t let them bother or chase the wildlife.

7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

  • Everyone loves music but not everyone loves your music. Sound travels far… So if you must play music, ensure that the volume of your tunes is kept to a minimum so your neighbors can’t hear it.
  • People tend to get outside to get away from people so the more we can be out of sight and out of sound of people makes it more enjoyable for everyone.
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