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What Are the Principles of Leave No Trace?

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The Seven Principles of Leave No Trace are a set of rules that all outdoors people should follow. These rules minimize a campers’ impact on the environment during their trip. Before you embark on your next camping adventure, take time to learn about the principles of Leave No Trace and what they entail.

Plan & Prepare

A poorly prepared camper is bound to run into problems. Research your destination carefully and pack appropriately for your trip length and the forecasted weather conditions if you want to avoid any issues.

Camp and Walk on Durable Surfaces

Avoid areas with unstable or lush terrain. Otherwise, you risk disturbing the local flora or hurting yourself.

Properly Dispose of Waste

Never leave waste behind. If there’s a trash disposal receptacle near your campsite, discard your trash there, or pack it into bags and take it with you when you leave.

Leave What You Find

It might be tempting to pluck that pretty flower or pocket that shiny rock, but please don’t. This action may not seem like a big deal, but think about it this way—if every visitor takes a memento, eventually, the land will go barren, and there won’t be any mementos left to take. Instead, if you find something you want to remember, use your phone or a handheld camera to snap a photo of it.

Be Careful With Campfire

Fire is dangerous, plain and simple. If you start a fire incorrectly or leave it unattended, there can be devastating consequences. Try to keep your fires small. Use local wood and, ideally, a fire pan. Once you’re ready to put your fire out, let all the wood and coals burn to ash, douse the flames, and then scatter the cooled-down ashes.

Respect Wildlife

Many wild animals look cute, and some may even appear friendly. However, you should never approach or feed wild animals. This choice puts you in harm’s way—animals can bite or scratch you, and some carry deadly diseases like rabies. It also puts the animals in harm’s way. Feeding animals is bad for their health and can make them reliant on humans. It’s also not uncommon for parks to have to euthanize “tamed” wild animals, either because they can no longer survive on their own or because they approach humans freely.

Be Considerate of Other Campers

Lastly, be considerate of others. Treat your fellow campers the same way you want to be treated. Don’t make loud noises, don’t leave food or trash out, and yield to others on the trail, among other basic courtesies.

Now that you know what the seven principles of Leave No Trace are, follow them dutifully to make your next camping trip more sustainable for the environment and more enjoyable for all parties involved.

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Written by Henry Johnson

Photo by Saif71.com on Unsplash

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