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Leave No Trace Seven Principles

The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics created the Leave No Trace 7 principles to be a framework of responsible recreation for people who spend time outdoors. These principles describe minimal impact practices based on scientific research, and in collaboration with land managers, and outdoor educators. Keystone Science School uses the Leave No Trace 7 Principles to teach participants in outdoor education and all summer camp programs about environmental stewardship and the role we play in minimizing human impacts. Learn how you can practice these principles when spending time outdoors!

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Plan Ahead and Prepare

This principle highlights the importance of preparation when spending time outdoors. Research the weather in the area you are going, and be prepared for weather to change quickly, especially in Mountain terrain. Pack the appropriate gear like warm layers, rain gear, water, food, a first aid kit and a communication device. Make sure to bring a map and let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back.

Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

Avoid damage to natural areas by traveling on designated trails, roads, or other durable surfaces like rock, gravel, or sand. When camping, use established campgrounds to minimize ecological impacts. Make sure to give other hikers room if taking breaks along the trail and encourage staying within the width of the trail when possible.

Dispose of Waste Properly

Pack out any trash that you bring into natural areas and inspect any campsites or recreational areas you have spent time at before leaving to make sure you have not left anything behind. Use cat holes or pack-out systems such as wag bags for human waste. Urinate at least 200 feet from any water sources, trails, or campsites.

Leave What You Find

Take only pictures and leave only footprints! Leave rocks, plants, and artifacts as you found them to allow others to experience them naturally. Future visitors will only be able to discover these beautiful objects if we leave them there.


Minimize Campfire Impact

Consider bringing a stove instead of building a fire for minimum impact camping. Camping stoves are quick, function without firewood, and operate in inclement weather. If you decide to have a campfire, make sure to check local fire regulations prior to your trip, use established fire rings, burn all wood to ash and have plenty of water to put it out completely. Never leave a fire unattended and soak the ash in water and scatter the remains over a large area or pack it out with you.

Respect Wildlife

Observe wildlife from a safe distance and avoid loud noises. Keep garbage away from animals and avoid water holes at night. Remember that you are visiting their home and large groups can be scary or stressful for animals.

Be Considerate of Other Visitors

It’s our responsibility to be respectful of other people visiting the outdoors to allow everyone to enjoy nature and their own experiences. Yield to uphill travelers and equestrians. If you want to listen to music, use earbuds but keep the volume low enough that you can hear travelers who may want to pass you. Keep pets under your control and pick up their waste.

By using these guidelines to responsible recreation, we can minimize our impact on the natural world and ensure everyone has the opportunity to experience it the same way. Help care for the environment by educating the groups you recreate with and reminding them of the Leave No Trace 7 Principles.