The Seven Principles of Leave No Trace

The Seven Principles of Leave No Trace provide an easily understood framework of minimum impact practices for anyone visiting the outdoors. Although Leave No Trace has its roots in backcountry settings, the principles have been adapted so that they can be applied anywhere — from remote wilderness areas to local parks and even in your own backyard.

Principle 1: Plan Ahead and Prepare

Adequate trip planning and preparation helps backcountry travelers accomplish trip goals safely and enjoyably, while simultaneously minimizing damage to the land. Poor planning often results in miserable campers and damage to natural and cultural resources.

Principle 2: Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

Concentrating travel on trails reduces the likelihood that multiple routes will develop and scar the landscape. It is better to have one well-designed route than many poorly chosen paths. PLEASE stay on marked trails at United Plant Savers.

Principle 3: Dispose of Waste Properly

Cat holes are the most widely accepted method of human waste disposal. Locate cat holes at least 200 feet (about 70 adult paces) from water, trails and camp. Select an inconspicuous site where other people will be unlikely to walk or camp. With a small garden trowel, dig a hole 6-8 inches deep and 4-6 inches in diameter. The cat hole should be covered and disguised with natural materials when finished.

Principle 4: Leave What You Find

Experienced campers may enjoy an occasional edible plant, but they are careful not to deplete the surviving vegetation or disturb plants that are rare or are slow to reproduce.

Principle 5: Minimize Campfire Impacts

The best place to build a fire is within an existing fire ring in a well-placed campsite. Keep the fire small and burning only for the time you are using it. Allow wood to burn completely to ash. Put out fires with water, not dirt. Dirt may not completely extinguish the fire.

Principle 6: Respect Wildlife

Learn about wildlife through quiet observation. Do not disturb wildlife or plants just for a “better look.” Observe wildlife from a distance so they are not scared or forced to flee

Principle 7: Be Considerate of Other Visitors (and Neighbors)

Keep noise to a minimum, and respect other visitors’ experience.


If you would like to learn more, visit the Center for Outdoor Ethics website.