Leave No Trace Canada is an organization dedicated to promoting responsible outdoor recreation. Building awareness, appreciation and respect for the land are imperative to maintain our relationship with the wild. The “Leave No Trace” principles are critical to ensuring the health of our outdoor spaces. These seven simple concepts can have incredibly positive effects.
Prepare & Plan Ahead
Check regulations for the area you are heading to, and pack all the food, water, and gear you need. If you have to direct friends to your campsite, use maps or GPS coordinates instead of flagging tape or signs which are often left behind as unsightly litter. Minimize your impact by travelling in small groups and during quieter, off-peak times.
Pack Out What You Pack In
This is one of the most crucial things you can do to keep nature clean. And this means everything, not only obvious garbage like food wrappers, but also items a lot of people (incorrectly) assume will quickly decompose. Never leave behind your coffee grinds, eggshells, and fruit and vegetable peels – these items take longer than you’d think to decompose, and leave an awful mess in the meantime, as well as serving as an animal attractant. Leave the environment looking as though you were never there.
Minimize the Impact of Campfire
Check for fire bans and only burn fires in designated spots. Don’t use fuel or accelerants to start your fire, and never burn garbage. Air quality is better for all if you keep your fire small. Bring your own firewood, or purchase it from the campground; never cut down branches or trees. After you’re done with your fire, be sure it is completely extinguished with water; the ashes should be cool to the touch. Many wildfires are human-caused and entirely preventable.
Leave What You Find
You may be tempted to keep a lovely rock or shell, or pick wildflowers, but by doing this, you are disturbing a delicately balanced ecosystem. A bee may benefit from the nectar in the flowers; an organism may be living under the shell. Digging up wildflowers or collecting their seeds can have a negative effect on their survival.
Campsite and Trail Etiquette – Minimize Your Ecological Impact
Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from a body of water and avoid damage to land by camping on established spots. Staying on established trails – activities like hiking and biking can cause trampling of plant life; and you can even bring in non-native plant species from other areas. The number one reason people get lost and require Search and Rescue is because they’ve wandered off established trails.
Dispose of Waste Properly
Always keep pets on leash and pick up their excrement. Proper disposal of human excrement is critical to avoid pollution of waterways, trails and parks, and to minimize the spread of pathogens. If there are no outhouses, burying human waste is the best way to do this. A small garden trowel is handy. Dig a hole 6 – 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet away from campsites, trails, and water, and cover the waste. Pack out used toilet paper, tissues, and hygiene products.
Be Considerate of Others
We all want to enjoy ourselves, so be cognizant of other campers and trail users. Let nature be the only sounds you hear: don’t play loud music, set off fireworks, or talk loudly. On trails, yield to hikers trying to get past you.
Learn more from Leave No Trace Canada to do your part in keeping our backyard healthy and safe to explore!