Do You Practice No Trace Ethics?

If you've spent time in the wilderness you've probably heard the title phrase before. And it is as it sounds, have as little impact on the environment as possible. There are seven principles when talking about no trace ethics. These principles outline the best actions we can take to help protect outdoor spaces. Originally designed for backcountry campers to minimize impacts on the surroundings, these principles should be applied by all outdoor enthusiasts.

1. Plan Ahead and be Prepared

This seems obvious but proper planning and preparation will help you avoid problems and have a more enjoyable experience. Become familiar with the regulations of your destination, the weather conditions, proper packing, the capabilities of the group, difficulty of terrain and so on. Regulations include, trail and campground closures, food storage, fire restrictions and general rules can be found online or by calling a ranger station. When you arrive check information boards for additional postings.

2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

The goal is not to create any new trails or damage fragile vegetation. In popular areas stay on established trails and campsites. Camp should be made 200ft from water sources and remain small to minimize impact. If you are in a larger group with multiple tents spread camp out. In less popular, wild areas hard packed surfaces with little vegetation are ideal. Avoid a site if impact is visible and consider moving camp daily for multi-day trips.

3. Dispose of Waste Properly

This pertains to trash, human waste and waste water. You've likely heard "pack it in, pack it out" before. Be sure to inspect your campsite when you arrive and when you head out. Leave the area cleaner than you found it. Human waste is required to be packed out as well in some areas. However, the most common method of disposal is a cathole. Catholes are dug 6-8 inches deep and covered with natural debris. Catholes should be 200ft from water sources, trails and your camp! Waste water from bathing and dishes should be strained widely dispersed.

4. Minimize Fire Impact

For most of us it's hard to imagine camping without a fire. If not used properly fire can be one of the most destructive traditions we do while enjoying the outdoors. Where fires are permitted only use established fire rings. Do not create new rings or move them. Responsibly gather wood or buy it locally. Keep fires small and burn all wood to ash. Put out fires completely and scatter ashes.

5. Leave What You Find

Leave wild places wild. Take all the photos and memories with you but leave nature behind for others to enjoy. Leave natural objects as you find them. Historical and cultural sites should not be touched or tampered with. Clean boots, tires and watercraft to avoid transporting invasive species to and from the area. Vegetation and trees should not be cut or harvested. Structures and furniture should not be constructed.

6. Respect the Wildlife

Don't feed the animals or approach them! You are not meant to have a selfie with a wild bison. You're not. Seeing animals large and small in their natural environment is a phenomenal experience. Enjoy the wildlife but stay safe and keep your distance. This is a great opportunity to improve your photography skills or grab a pair of binoculars. Feeding and approaching wildlife only puts the animal, yourself and others at risk.

7. Be Considerate of Others

Outdoor environments are becoming more and more popular. You want to have as good an experience as the next adventurer. Respect others and their experience. Keep noise to a minimum and camp away from others. When on the trail yield to other users and livestock. Ultimately treat others how you would like to be treated.

Now you have the seven principles to minimize your impact on the environment as you enjoy its boundless rewards. Apply them so we can continue to enjoy them for many years to come!

See you out there... or not.

Keep Killin' it!

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