Leave No Trace

In the early 1980’s the U.S. Forest Service was seeing increased wilderness use and associated impacts on the ground. For the most part, people were not intentionally causing damage, they were just loving the land to death. The solution was clearly not more regulation, but better education. Efforts to teach people how to enjoy the wilderness without causing damage led to an interagency effort (Forest Service, Park Service and Bureau of Land Management) that promoted “Leave No Trace” land ethics. The “Leave No Trace” program for non-motorized recreationists was joined by the “Tread Lightly” campaign for motorized recreationists. Ultimately government agencies and private corporations came together to form a non-profit called LNT, Inc. with a website for the “Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics”  managed by the National Outdoor Leadership School.

LNT, Inc and the member-driven Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics teaches people how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly by focussing on seven principles that are key to appropriate recreational activities in the wilderness:

  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

This copyrighted list is reprinted with permission from the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics.

To learn more about these principles and how you can apply them to your outdoor activities, get involved with the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics , the National Outdoor Leadership School, the Boy Scouts or the Girl Scouts.

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