LEAVE NO TRACE
Updated: Aug 26, 2020
In learning about the impact we have on wildlife and their habitat, we can make more informed decisions while outside. Most of the time, we think we are treating nature well, but are uninformed about how our actions could be dangerous for the local eco-system. Leave No Trace offers a framework for enjoying nature responsibly. It provides research, education, and ways to participate in the environment without causing harm.
Leave No Trace aims to solve issues impacting healthy and vibrant natural lands that could have; damaged trails & natural areas, polluted water, wildlife at risk, crowded parks, or prone to destructive fires (“Why Leave No Trace”). Instead of costly restoration, Leave No Trace focuses its efforts on educating the public and those managing public lands as a solution to these issues (“The Leave No Trace Story”).
The seven principles of this initiative are to; plan ahead and prepare, travel and camp on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly, leave what you find, minimize campfire impacts, respect wildlife and be considerate of other visitors (“The Seven Principles”).
In the Pacific Northwest, the most impacted natural areas are; Olympic National Park, the Enchantments, Forest Park, the Columbia River Gorge, and John Day Fossil Beds (Painted Hills Unit). These locations are "Hot Spots" with specific human-caused issues that need to be addressed (“Interactive Map”). Each Hot Spot has targeted goals and solutions focused on education.
Three of the most easily preventable problems facing public parks are; visitor created trails, invasive species, and litter.
1. Visitor created trails cause trail erosion and alter the local landscape. By staying on designated trails, we are limiting the disturbance to natural fauna and wildlife.
2. Invasive species are plants or animals that adversely affect habitats they are brought into. They are generally transferred in our boots and gear and are a significant contributor to species extinction (“What’s the big deal about Invasive Species”). In cleaning up our shoes and packs before entering parks, we can prevent invasive species from taking over.
3. Litter can include but is not limited to; plastic bags, plastic bottles, food wrappers, and other scraps. It can be deadly and harmful to the environment and animals living in that area. Many national and state parks end up with trash throughout trails, attracting local wildlife and discouraging their natural eating habits. Eventually, litter in trails can pollute bodies of water, causing even more significant harm to wildlife and people. Collecting litter and being mindful of your rubbish is a critical aspect of being an environmental steward.
It can be challenging to know what to do or avoid in protecting our environment. Often, we think we are doing something helpful or not causing harm, when in reality, this is not the case.
Everyone has a right to enjoy the outdoors, and in doing so, we all have a vested responsibility in making good decisions. Leave No Trace offers a framework of thinking with viable solutions so that “every person who ventures outside can protect and enjoy our world responsibly (“Why Leave No Trace”).
To learn more about the Leave No Trace projects happening in your area go to
“Why Leave No Trace.” Leave No Trace, 2020, https://lnt.org/. Accessed 8 July, 2020.
“The Leave No Trace Story.” Leave No Trace, 2020, https://lnt.org/why/. Accessed 10 July, 2020.
“The Seven Principles.” Leave No Trace, 2020, https://lnt.org/why/7-principles/. Accessed 8 July, 2020.
“What’s the big deal about Invasive Species?.” Leave No Trace, 2020, https://lnt.org/whats-the-big-deal-about-invasive-species/. Accessed 11 July, 2020.
“Interactive Map.” Leave No Trace, 2020, https://lnt.org/map/. Accessed 9 July 2020.