Going Beyond Leave No Trace

Hiking along the Buffalo National River. Going beyond Leave No Trace to show respect to the wild spaces we love as well as those who come after us for generations to come.
Hiking in the Buffalo National River

This is the final in a series of blog posts where we are really digging deep into Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics’ seven principles. This post discusses how we can go a step further than the seven Leave No Trace principles.

Leave it better than you found it

OK, with this one you are technically leaving a trace. But you are leaving a good trace. You know how annoying and nasty it is when you get to your campsite only to see the remnants of burned trash in the fire pit. Use Leave No Trace Principle 7 – Be Considerate of Other Visitors – and scoop up the discarded trash so the person after you does not have to see it.

By cleaning out the trash, you help prevent others from thinking that burning trash is OK. If you thought it was OK, no worries. Brush up on Leave No Trace Principle 3 – Dispose of Waste Properly here.

Another way to leave it better than you found it is to do a sweep of the campsite and remove any trash or unnatural and unsightly debris.

I also carry a small trash bag with me when I hike so that I can clean up the trail. Unfortunately, some people just don’t care and litter along the trail, but most of the time hikers drop trash unnoticed. Leaving it better than you found it, helps preserve the natural beauty for others behind you.

Volunteerism

Trails don’t build or maintain themselves. They are the result of a lot of hard work by wonderful volunteers. And a great way to give back is to help build new trails or help maintain current ones. There are many wonderful organizations that do regular trail maintenance.

For those in Arkansas consider volunteering with the Buffalo National River

Floating along the Buffalo National River. Going beyond Leave No Trace to show respect to the wild spaces we love as well as those who come after us for generations to come.
Floating along the Buffalo National River

I encourage you to connect with local organizations and help remove downed trees, clear underbrush, and improve washed out areas along your favorite trails. If you don’t know where to find a volunteer organization, call your favorite state park, national park, national forest, or land manager and ask them how to volunteer and give back.

Leave No Trace Trainer Course

Another way you can go a step beyond Leave No Trace is to take a Leave No Trace Trainer Course and use that knowledge to teach others about it. I took one of these courses and absolutely loved it. You can read about my time during the Leave No Trace Trainer Course here.

Minimize your environmental impact

If you are conscious enough to want to minimize your impact on our sacred wild spaces and you recognize the need to do so, I am going to assume you also care deeply for nature and our planet. There are several ways you can help reduce your impact on our environment.

Consider recycling. When my family began recycling our weekly garbage dropped significantly. It really makes me feel good that all that plastic, aluminum, cardboard, etc., is not going into the landfill. It also showed me how much unnecessary waste goes to the landfill.

A flower from North Carolina's Blue Ridge Parkway is shown.

Also, consider cutting single-use plastics. This, I have found, is a concept that is foreign to many people. When I tell cashiers I prefer not to have a bag, they look at me like I have two heads. Several times they have asked me if I am sure I don’t want a plastic bag, not once but twice.

There are several easy options to bring your own reusable straws, cutlery, water bottles, or shopping bag.

Leave No Trace is basic respect for our earth and others

By educating yourself on Leave No Trace practices and use of the seven principles, you basically show respect to our precious wild spaces. You also show respect to those who come behind you and leave the outdoors pristine for all to enjoy.

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Going beyond Leave No Trace to show respect to the wild spaces we love as well as those who come after us for generations to come.

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