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TRAILBLAZE CHALLENGE PRACTICES LEAVE NO TRACE

Leave No Trace is a national and international program designed to assist outdoor enthusiasts with their decisions about how to reduce their impacts when they hike, camp, picnic, snowshoe, run, bike, hunt, paddle, ride horses, fish, ski or climb. The program strives to educate all those who enjoy the outdoors about the nature of their recreational impacts as well as techniques to prevent and minimize such impacts. Leave No Trace is best understood as an educational and ethical program, not as a set of rules and regulations. Leave No Trace information helps public land visitors understand and practice minimum impact skills and ethics.

 

Principles

The Leave No Trace program is a combination of science and common sense for enjoying the outdoors responsibly. Leave No Trace provides a framework for outdoor recreation decision making, which is summarized in the following;

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare: Poorly prepared people, when presented with unexpected situations, often resort to high-impact solutions that degrade the outdoors or put themselves at risk. Poor planning can result in improperly located campsites because groups failed to plan enough time to reach their intended destination, or improper campfires or excessive trash because of failure to plan meals or bring proper equipment.

 

2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces: Damage to land occurs when surface vegetation or communities of organisms are trampled beyond repair. The resulting barren area leads to unusable trails, campsites and soil erosion. 
  • In high-use areas, Leave No Trace suggests that people concentrate activity, which makes further damage unlikely.
  • In areas of very little or no use, Leave No Trace encourages people to spread out. Taking different paths when hiking off-trail will avoid creating new trails that cause erosion. Dispersing tents and equipment, and moving camp daily will avoid creating permanent-looking camp sites.
3. Dispose of Waste Properly: Though most trash and litter in the backcountry is not significant in terms of the long term ecological health of an area, it does rank high as a problem in the minds of many backcountry visitors. Trash and litter are primarily social impacts which can greatly detract from the naturalness of an area.[5] Thus, Leave No Trace recommends that trash and litter should be packed out. Further, backcountry users create body waste and waste water which requires proper disposal according to Leave No Trace.
  • Waste water: Avoiding soap and dispersing dishwater far away from natural water sources will prevent contamination.
  • Human waste: Proper human waste disposal prevents spread of disease, exposure to others, and speeds decomposition. Catholes, 6 to 8 inches deep and 200 feet from water, are often the easiest and most practical way to dispose of feces.
4. Leave What You Find: Leaving rocks, plants, archaeological artifacts and other objects as found will allow others a sense of discovery. Similarly, Leave No Trace directs people to minimize site alterations, such as digging tent trenches, hammering nails into trees, permanently clearing an area of rocks or twigs.

 

5. Minimize Use and Impact of Fire: Leave No Trace encourages people to use lightweight camp stoves, instead of fires, because the naturalness of many areas has been degraded by overuse of fires and the increasing demand for firewood. If a campfire is constructed, Leave No Trace suggests using an existing fire ring in a well-placed campsite or to use a fire pan or mound fire. True Leave No Trace fires show no evidence of having ever been constructed.

 

6. Respect Wildlife: If enough people approach or interfere with wildlife, it can be disruptive to animal populations.

 

7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors: Following hiking etiquette and maintaining quiet allows visitors to go through the wilderness with minimal impact on other users.
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