The Seven Principles Of “Leave No Trace”

The 7 Principles of Leave No Trace provide an easily understood framework of minimum impact practices for anyone visiting the outdoors. The Principles can be applied anywhere — from remote wilderness areas, to local parks and even in your backyard. Each Principle covers a specific topic and provides detailed information to empower you to minimize your impacts.

The 7 Principles are well-established and widely known but not static. Leave No Trace continually examines, evaluates, and reshapes the Principles and conducts research to ensure that they are up to date with the latest insights from biologists, land managers, and other leaders in outdoor education.

Plan Ahead & Prepare

  • Knowing the rules, access rights, restrictions in effect, and specifics of the site.
  • Preparing for bad weather, natural hazards and other emergencies.
  • Planning trips during low-traffic periods.
  • Exploring less frequented areas. Dividing large groups and go out in smaller groups of 4 to 6 people.
  • Bringing a compass and an up-to-date map.
  • Repackaging food in reusable containers to minimize waste.

Travel & Camp On Durable Surfaces

  • Travel and camp on existing trails and campsites.
  • For off-trail travel, stay on durable surfaces: bare ground, rock, sand, dry grass, deep snow.
  • Avoid altering a site to camp: a good site is found, not made.
  • Protect shorelines by camping more than 60 m from lakes and streams.
  • In frequented areas:
    • Use designated trails and campsites.
    • Walk in single file down the middle of the trail, even if it is muddy or wet.
    • Limit the camping area. Concentrate your activities on areas without vegetation.
  • In pristine, remote or isolated areas:
    • Disperse its impact so as not to create new trails or campsites.
    • Avoid damaging surfaces that have suffered little or no impact.

Dispose Of Waste Properly

  • Bringing back waste that was carried in. Separating regular waste from hazardous waste. Burning waste in a campfire is not an acceptable solution.
  • Thoroughly inspecting picnic areas and campsites for trash, food scraps, cigarette butts and other micro-waste.
  • Depositing human feces in a hole dug more than 60 m (or about 70 adult footsteps) from water sources, trails and campsites. Digging the sanitary hole in organic soil 15 to 20 cm deep and digging and camouflaging after each use.
  • Packing-out the toilet paper or put it in the sanitary hole.
  • Bathing and washing dishes more than 60 m away from waterways. Using a minimum amount of biodegradable soap.
  • Spreading soiled water in large streams through vegetation.
  • Filtering food debris through a sieve and placing it with the waste to be packed-out before spreading the dishwater.

Leave What You Find

  • Preserving heritage: avoid moving or destroying traditional, historical and cultural elements and sites.
  • Leaving stones, plants and all other natural objects in their original place and condition.
  • Avoid building structures, constructing furniture or digging trenches.
  • Preventing the spread of exotic invasive species by removing mud and debris from shoes, clothing and equipment.

Minimize Campfire Impacts

  • Campfires can cause lasting impacts: opting for cooking on a portable stove is a good solution.
  • Placing barbecues, fire boxes and portable stoves on durable surfaces.
  • Protecting soil and roots from burning.
  • If open fires are allowed, using designated locations. Keeping fires small.
  • If wood collection is allowed, burning only dead wood that is collected from the ground and can be broken up by hand.
  • Allowing pieces of wood and embers to reduce to ash. Completely extinguishing fires and check that ashes are cool before leaving the area.

Respect Wildlife

  • Leaving the field clear for the animals and observing them from a distance.
  • Moving away at the first sign of nervousness or change in behavior.
  • Refraining from feeding animals to avoid harming their health, altering their behavior, or exposing them to predators or other hazards.
  • Storing food, garbage and other odorous products in a bear-proof barrel, in facilities provided on site, or in car trunks.
  • Avoid disturbing animals during sensitive breeding, nesting and calf rearing periods, or during winter.
  • Keeping control of a pet or leave it safely at home. Picking up after our dog or burying it in a sanitary hole.

Be Considerate Of Others

  • Acting with courtesy. On a narrow trail, give way to uphill hikers.
  • Pulling over along the trail to give priority to people with mobility aids.
  • Taking breaks on durable surfaces off the trail.
  • Giving freedom for the sounds of nature to be heard. Avoid excessive noise. Wearing headphones if using electronic devices.
  • Limiting the use of drones to areas where they are permitted and following the rules.
  • On social networks, posting photos that demonstrate behavior to better protect natural environments.
Friends of Blue Mountain & Birch Cove Lakes