The 7 principles of Leave No Trace were developed by the United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service in the 1960s. Many of us have heard of these principles that include planning ahead and preparing, traveling and camping on durable surfaces and disposing of waste properly. The principles also include leaving what you find, minimizing campfire impacts, respecting wildlife, and being considerate of others. Knowing these principles and practicing them are two completely different things. Did you know that you can apply these practices to camping? To find out more about sustainable camping check out Safe Camping as a Sustainable Activity. Use this guide to Leave No Trace camping to help plan your next camping trip.
7 Principles Of Leave No Trace Camping
1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
It’s crucial to plan ahead and prepare while leave no trace camping. Lackluster planning can result in harming the environment in terms of tent pitching, campfires, and even the use of single use plastics. You’re more likely to leave no trace if you are well prepared, and planning ahead cuts down on waste. For example you can prepare food before your trip to cut down on food packaging waste. Or bring edible utensils on your eco camping trip. You can find out more about that by reading Great Options For Edible Eco Friendly Tablewares and Utensils.
Leave No Trace Recommends Preparing By
- Knowing the regulations of the area
- Preparing for weather, hazards and emergencies
- Scheduling your trip during shoulder seasons
- Visiting in small groups
- Repackaging goods to minimize waste
- Use of maps and compasses to eliminate marking paint and carrines
2. Travel and Camp On Durable Surfaces
This Leave No Trace principle encourages travelers and campers to know the landscape on which you’re camping. When they are available it’s important to use only the areas designated for people when leave no trace camping. Staying on designated trails is equally important in order to cut down on your environmental impact. Using tent pads for eco camping is another way to make sure you are remaining on a durable surface.
The Leave No Trace guidelines define a durable surface as dry grass, rock, gravel and snow. In backcountry or rustic camping it’s ideal to pitch a tent on level ground that has been somewhat stripped of vegetation. You don’t need to alter a site to find a good leave no trace camping spot. Try to keep your campsite small in order to keep your impact even smaller.
3. Dispose Of Waste Properly
Properly disposing of waste, whether it’s recyclable or dog waste, is an incredibly important principle of Leave No Trace. When it comes to leave no trace camping you can either utilize the campground waste disposal or pack out what you pack in. Limiting the amount of trash you dispose of at campgrounds helps to ensure that trash won’t end up in nature.
4. Leave What You Find
This Leave No Trace principle is often forgotten because it’s only natural to want to take a memento from your trip. While it may seem innocent to take rocks, leaves, or wildflowers from a campground, it does have an impact on the natural environment. Just think, if everyone did that we wouldn’t have these wild places to enjoy anymore. When it comes to leave no trace camping leave what you find alone and take only pictures.
Leave No Trace Suggests
- Leaving rocks, plants, and any other natural objects exactly as you found them
- Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species
5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
While campfires can be an amazingly relaxing part of any eco camping trip, they also have a negative impact on the environment. When leave no trace camping, only use designated fire rings. If primitive or backcountry camping do not build your own fire pit. When collecting wood for a campfire, make sure that the campground allows wood collection. Honestly, ask yourself, do you need a campfire? If you do, make sure to burn all wood and coals to ash, and put out the campfire completely.
6. Respect Wildlife
When it comes to nature you are a visitor in the local wildlifes home. Respect them as your host on your leave no trace camping trip. Observe wildlife from a distance and never feed or approach them. Leave No Trace also recommends keeping water sources in mind, if you contaminate a water source you are having an even greater impact on local wildlife. Make sure to store your food safely in a closed container. It’s also important to respect closures in order to give animals additional space during mating seasons, nesting, and raising their young.
7. Be Considerate Of Others
When it comes to leave no trace camping, being considerate of others typically means allowing others to enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of nature. Let nature’s sounds prevail and don’t blare music or host rowdy campfire parties while eco camping! If you see litter on trails or in your campground, pick it up and properly dispose of it. Leave No Trace recommends taking breaks and camping away from trails and other visitors to reduce your impact.
Leave no trace camping can be incredibly rewarding, and if you take these easy to follow principles and apply them you can have a great time with very little impact on the natural world. What are you waiting for? Get out there and explore the wilderness around you!
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