WHY LEAVE NO TRACE?

Leave No Trace's mission is to discover unique tourism destinations around the world that work hard to protect the environment that they rely on.

In the mid 20th century there was a cultural shift in wilderness ethics from woodcraft (where wilderness travelers prided themselves on their ability to rely on the resources of wild lands) to a post-WWII ethics of minimal impact on the environment. The concept of "leave no trace" began in the 1960s and 1970s. There was a large increase of wilderness visitation following the creation of new recreational equipment such as white gas stoves, synthetic tents, and sleeping pads. This began a commercial interest in outdoor recreation which in turn caused more visitors to national parks.  In those decades, the United States Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the National Park Service started to teach their non-motorized visitors how to have a minimal impact on the land. Wilderness Informational Specialists were trained to educate visitors on minimal impact camping in the different parks. In 1987 the three departments cooperatively developed a pamphlet titled "Leave No Trace Land Ethics".

The national education program of "Leave No Trace" was developed in 1990 by the United States Forest Service in conjunction with the National Outdoor Leadership School. At the time the USFS also created other programs such as Smokey Bear, Woodsy Owl, and previously in 1985 the Tread Lightly! program which was geared towards motorized recreation. The Bureau of Land Management joined the program in 1993 followed by the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1994.

Today, "leave no trace" is a set of outdoor ethics promoting conservation in the outdoors. It consists of seven principles:

- plan ahead and prepare,

- travel and camp on durable surfaces,

- dispose of waste properly,

- leave what you find,

- minimize campfire impacts,

- respect wildlife,

- be considerate of other visitors.

For more information, visit the Leave No Trace Centre For Outdoor Ethics here.

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