Leave No Trace: Code of the Responsible Outdoorsman

It’s a sad truth that seemingly everywhere we go to enjoy ourselves outdoors, there is nearly always litter scattered about. This is a major problem in public parks where rules and regulations are not enforced, and on private land that isn’t managed adequately. The amount of rubbish carelessly discarded on Mount Washington, for example, costs the Forest Service thousands of dollars to remove annually. Even with volunteer support, it can be challenging to keep park lands across the country litter-free.

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It’s ironic that our nation is embracing the “Green” movement yet trash continues to pile up. So, who’s at fault?…obviously, the negligent fools who dump their rubbish are a big part of the blame, but so are those who refuse to pick up litter left behind by others. Fortunately, as the outdoor community continues to grow, so does the awareness of ‘leave no trace’.

Now, ‘leave no trace’ isn’t just picking up litter – it’s about leaving a minimal environmental print. Bush-whacking should be done with care so as to not trample vegetation – when possible, use established trails. Leave your campsite the way it was before set-up. Thoroughly douse your campfire remnants so that they are cool to the touch – scatter the charred bits or bury them. Where open fires are forbidden, use a stove. Practice sustainable foraging techniques – never harvest rare or endangered plants (unless you have permission or a permit to do so), and if you’re harvesting berries, always leave some for the wildlife. Another good custom is to collect plants in such a way that promotes growth, such as picking just above the leaf node. If you’re digging for roots and the plant has already started to produce seeds, scatter them about the area. Removal of invasives is encouraged. And, of course, carry-out what you carry-in…take a plastic bag or two with you. If you see rubbish lying around, collect and dispose of it properly.

Essentially, ‘leave no trace’ is common sense, something many summer outers seem to lack. Our forests, open prairies, and waterways are precious. Please do your part in preserving them so that they may be enjoyed for generations to come.

Further information can be found at https://lnt.org

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