7 Ways to Leave No Trace

Once destroyed, nature’s beauty cannot be repurchased at any price. ~ Ansel Adams

There’s no better remedy for a weary body and soul than some restorative time in a naturally wild place.  That soul soothing sanity break though should (and I almost never say should) come with responsibilities to be a respectful guest.

During the Covid crisis, many people unable to enjoy their usual indoor recreation and fitness, hit the parks and trails. Discovering the healing power of nature to – at least for a short while – put everything right with the world again, is a gift I wish for everyone.

However, many once pristine places have been nearly loved to death. Hordes of people have created off-trail erosion, fatally squashed rare plants, marred waterfall-side boulders with graffiti, terrorized wildlife, blasted music obliterating natural sounds, left streamers of toilet tissue flapping in the breeze like evil prayer flags, discarded all manner of garbage – including used masks, diapers, dog poop bags and worse (!) along with the usual litterbug suspects of cans, bottles and cigarette butts. I could go on and on… Can you tell it’s a sore spot?

Back in the day, many of us participated in Scouting or other programs where we learned the principles of “Leave No Trace.” Let’s dust off and observe these Seven Principles to enjoy Mama Nature now in a way future generations still have wild places for unscrunching shoulders from their ears. Thankful for our planet? Then let’s do our part!

The human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged by the hand of man.  ~ Unknown

How many of these can you recall?

7 Leave No Trace Principles

  • Plan Ahead & Prepare
  • Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces
  • Dispose of Waste Properly
  • Leave What You Find
  • Minimize Campfire Impacts
  • Respect Wildlife
  • Be Considerate of Other Visitors

I strongly recommend this terrific resource for the full scoop: https://lnt.org (Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics) There you’ll learn how to follow the LNT principles and the problems doing so solves, research and ways to get involved. They have fabulous & fun educational materials (home schooling anyone?) and a shop for nifty Leave No Trace and Impact Reducing gear like hip retro speckleware mugs that say “Make Campfires Not Wildfires,” patches/pins/decals and cathole trowels. Not a clue what a Cathole is? Hmmmmmmm…. Better check it out!

If you’re already up-to-speed on Leave No Trace, consider being an LNT angel and spreading the word through your sphere of influence.  Perhaps organize a clean-up day on your favorite trail? Or volunteer to do a Zoom LNT Lunch-and-Learn for your team?

Though like for most of us, there aren’t enough hours most days, I volunteer as a moderator on a Leave No Trace Instagram account to do my small part educating folks on these essential courtesies for nature and her lovers. Check it out if you like: @bestoftheusa_leavenotrace – and if you talk about Leave No Trace peeves or successes in your posts, be sure to tag us so you can be featured!

Our precious public lands are facing serious threats. Ensuring folks practice Leave No Trace is essential to avoid irreversible devastation. I’ve been moved to tears by carnage I’ve recently witnessed in once bucolic natural getaways. Mama Nature needs you. Are you in?



Bigfoot’s Been Doing it For Years –

Leave No Trace