If you spend much time in the great outdoors, you’re likely to hear the phrase “Leave No Trace” as often as you hear “the Ten Essentials.” What does it mean? Simply put, it’s the best practices we should follow to enjoy and protect our natural spaces.
While The Leave No Trace principles began as a guide for remote back country users who generally camp overnight, the following guidelines apply to “front country” users as well. “Back country” areas are those most often accessed by overnight users like backpackers, while “front country” refers to places easily accessed by car, like city and state parks. Front country is most often enjoyed by day-use visitors like dog walkers, picnickers and runners and those who are car camping.
Principle 1 – Plan Ahead And Prepare
Planning ahead includes doing research about your destination and packing appropriately. Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you’ll visit. Prepare for extreme weather, hazards and emergencies. Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use. Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups. Repackage food to minimize waste. Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.