Leave No Trace
Applying the Principles of ‘Leave No Trace’ to Daily Life in an Urban SettingUncategorized
What is Leave No Trace?
The idea behind Leave No Trace is to embrace specific wilderness stewardship values in order to protect our backcountry areas for generations to come. Back in the early 1940s, Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the world Scouting movement, said, “Try and leave the world a little better than you found it.” Over time, this morphed into, “Always leave your campground cleaner than you found it.”
Fifty years later, in the early 1990s, that Leave No Trace concept was immortalized through an educational curriculum developed by the United States Forest Services in partnership with NOLS (the National Outdoor Leadership School). The outcome was an agreed framework for instilling awareness on the part of wilderness travelers to interact with nature in a manner that reduces human impact.
What is The Importance of Leave No Trace?
The idea behind Leave No Trace is to embrace specific wilderness stewardship values in order to protect our backcountry areas for generations to come. Today, that program — run by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics in Boulder, Colorado — impacts more than 15 million people in the United States and dozens of other countries with conservation initiatives, education, training, and research.
Baden-Powell’s simple sentiment more-or-less condenses the seven principles behind today’s Leave No Trace (LNT) program. The well-known LNT’s principles are:
- 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 Others
You can read more about LNT in the wilderness here. But what about the majority of the time when most of us are not roughing it in the backcountry? Can we incorporate these seven principles into our daily lives? Can we bring such environmental awareness into an urban or front-country setting? We like to think so!
How can you practice the Leave No Trace principles in your everyday life?
Some of us here at NCOAE headquarters in Wilmington, N.C., discussed the possibilities of applying backcountry Leave No Trace principles in everyday living, and here’s what we came up with.
7 Ways to ‘Leave No Trace’ in Everyday Life
1. Plan Ahead and Prepare: Before you head out — whether it’s for a wilderness expedition or an afternoon at a local park or on local trails — thoroughly research the weather; plan meals carefully; check local regulations for closures or burn bands. And choose to bring along re-usable products as much as possible.
2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces: When spending time in the front country or heading out for a leisurely walk in a local park or rec area, stay on existing trails and pathways. This helps avoid damage to the local environment and wildlife. When commuting, consider using public transportation or carpool whenever possible. Or ride your bike on designated paths and roads.
3. Dispose of Waste Properly: Have a system in place for your waste whether it’s at home or on a trip. Recycle appropriate items as much as possible. Swap one-use products with reusable products when you can. And donate clothing, furniture, and other household items instead of throwing them away.
4. Leave What You Find: Sure, it’s tempting to touch or pick up insects, or examine shells, rocks, shellfish and historical structures. But here’s an alternative: Take a photo instead. You don’t disturb the flora and fauna, and you have something to show your family and friends.
5. Minimize Campfire Impacts: Since it’s not likely you’ll be building a lot of campfires in your everyday life at home, become more aware of your energy use. Turn off lights when you leave a room. Open windows instead of hitting the A/C wall unit. Turn off the hose while soaping up your car. And when you do light up your backyard fire pit, be sure to check local fire restrictions, keep fires small, don’t burn trash, and make sure the fire is completely out when done.
6. Respect Wildlife: Raccoons and squirrels are cute. No doubt about that. But don’t approach wild animals, even when they’re in the front country, and never feed them. Also, don’t leave food or belongings where animals could get it, keep trashcan lids on tight at all times, and control your pets. You want to help city critters? Learn about what vegetation they consume and plant those edibles that help them thrive.
7. Be Considerate of Others: Avoid blocking walkways and paths, obey rules and closures, minimize your noise, certainly don’t litter, and pick up the trash you see on the ground. These daily habitat habits don’t require a lot of thought or effort, but they do go a long way toward making our own personal environment a lot more livable.
To discover other stories about Leave No Trace and to further your understanding, check out similar blogs here.
Mother Nature Requests a Non-Disclosure Agreement on Secret SpotsWilderness
You’ve just finished packing up your gear and made sure that your favorite secret camping spot is in better shape than when you arrived. You’ve disposed of your waste properly and minimized your impact.
Suddenly, someone stumbles out of the tree line with a couple of sidekicks, tosses down a backpack and pulls a smartphone out of their cargo pants.
Two dozen photos and a short video later, all three cram their cell phone back in their shorts and excitedly speak how pristine the spot is. “This is great! And there’s hardly anybody here,” one of them says to another. “I can’t wait to post this stuff on Instagram and show everybody where we camped this weekend!”
With the advent of texting, tweets, drones with really good cameras, and phones that can take and post 12-megapixel photos and 4K video — along with their coordinates — it’s obviously past time to consider a nondisclosure agreement for Mother Nature’s treasured and off the beaten path locations.
The simple fact is wilderness (and the backcountry in particular) is taking a beating. And we all know what happens when Mother Nature isn’t happy.
Scientists Battle Location Giveaways on Social Media
Here’s a real-life example of why nature needs a nondisclosure agreement. I was guiding a research scientist on a trip to find an ancient bald cypress tree for his research. We spent hours paddling around to find the old tree, and when we did, the scientist wrote down the coordinates. He didn’t even share those coordinates with me in fear I might geotag a photo and post it online.
When I asked him to explain his clandestine actions, he told me that an enormous amount of damage has been done to ancient trees because coordinates have been posted along with pictures. He now refuses to geotag any of his posts.
And he has an excellent point. Close your eyes for a moment and picture that favorite spot that you found in your local woods, secret climbing crag, or untapped surf location. Now imagine dozens of billboards advertising those treasured spots, each boasting a million views and offering exact directions to each.
I can hear your screams from here. Can you hear mine? You would be angry on a volcanic level. (more…)
‘Free Range’ Mountain Bike Advocates Seek Access to Wilderness AreasLand Management
Strange and interesting things are afoot in the human-powered outdoor recreation community, and if you’ve been paying attention to issues surrounding the use of wilderness areas lately, what follows here might not come as a surprise.
What has emerged is a growing division among outdoor enthusiasts as to whether or not mountain bikes should be allowed in designated wilderness areas. The question, which has turned controversial as of late, fosters fears that mountain bike organizations are beginning to align themselves with companies, organizations and politicians insisting on making their way into wilderness areas for resource exploration.
But first, a brief description of how the U.S government defines wilderness:
“The Wilderness Act, signed into law in 1964, created the National Wilderness Preservation System and recognized wilderness as “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” The Act further defined wilderness as “an area of undeveloped federal land retaining its primeval character and influence without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions.“
That description also specifies that (more…)
Leave No Trace Figures Big in NCOAE’s CurriculumNCOAE Curriculum
We’re sure the good folks over at the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics know this, but tt was Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell, the father of Boy Scouting, who coined the phrase, “Try and leave this world a little better than you found it.”
This retired British Army officer and founder of the scouting movement was adamant about improving the environment back in 1910 — especially on the trail — and his rule was later revised to, “Always leave the campground cleaner than you found it.”
We here at The National Center for Outdoor Adventure & Education (NCOAE) are big fans of this “First Chief Scout,” who among many other wilderness rules, principles and musings, once said, “A week of camp life is worth six months of theoretical teaching in the meeting room.”
Figuratively speaking, that’s a page right out of our own curriculum.
Experiencing the outdoors outside far surpasses any classroom study or indoor book reading on the topic of (more…)
5 New Staff and Instructors Join the NCOAE FamilyStaff Profiles
Here at The National Center for Outdoor Education & Adventure Education (NCOAE), we recently welcomed three new field instructors, a climbing instructor and a program coordinator to our outstanding team of staff members.
Earlier this year, these five candidates — two women and three men — successfully completed our Winter 2017 Instructor Candidate Training Program, becoming part of a staff treasure trove that annually attracts some of the best outdoor and experientially-based wilderness educators in the country.
Much of the success of our Instructor Candidate education goes to our training program, where NCOAE instructors work directly with candidates who — on their own steam — are highly qualified outdoor educators.
Many of these candidates have worked for top-drawer wilderness organizations, and our training serves as a means of taking their experience and fine-tuning it to fit NCOAE’s extremely comprehensive curriculum.
Our candidates tell us that despite their prior instructor training and experience, an intensive week of training at our North Carolina headquarters only serves to ratchet up that experience, giving them something more meaningful when guiding and instructing in the field with NCOAE’s students and participants.
But enough about us. Let’s meet these five new NCOAE staff members: (more…)
Cheers to You and Us!About NCOAE
As 2016 comes to an end, we’re honored to take a moment out from our end-of-year activities to say thank everyone for their continued support and encouragement of The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE).
When our founders Zac & Celine Adair started this organization in 2009, their mission then for NCOAE was as clear as it is today — improve people’s self-confidence and interpersonal relationships through the teaching of a core curriculum emphasizing teamwork, environmental stewardship and the acquisition of technical outdoor skills. We’ve come a long way since 2009, and guided by that same mission, 2016 has been another year of phenomenal growth.
A few key highlights: (more…)
Let’s Start a Conversation About Land Use ManagementWilderness
More and more individuals, families and outdoor organizations are going to great lengths to enjoy wilderness experiences in our national forests, but with this exploding trend, how are we addressing the impact on natural resources? What does the future hold for outdoor recreation areas and natural setting outdoor classrooms?
As professional members of the outdoor industry, we are constantly trying to increase the numbers of programs and the number of students who participate in outdoor recreation and adventure programming endeavors. We look for course areas that are pristine — mostly because no one else is visiting those areas — yet. But the reality is this: If we are researching an untouched course area for our organization, you can bet there are a hundred others doing the same thing.
As educators and outdoor education administrators, we know that in order to appreciate and protect a natural space, have to engage with it. To be shaped by the beauty of the outdoors, you must be given the opportunity to live in it. How can you appreciate and protect something you’ve never engaged with or seen?
The outdoor industry has been working with the (more…)
Spend Thanksgiving in Patagonia With NCOAE’s 31-Day Outdoor Educator TrainingTraining & Certifications
What are your plans for Thanksgiving? Here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education, we’re expanding our outdoor educator-training program on a global scale and announcing a month-long training expedition that culminates in a Thanksgiving celebration in Patagonia — a remote region at the southernmost end of South America that is shared by Argentina and Chile.
That’s a large leap from our outdoor educator training programs in North Carolina on the Eastern seaboard and Oregon and California out West. But we’re excited to be spreading our wings, and we’re even going a step further by planning a second overseas training expedition next spring — this time to Kenya for a 33-Day Outdoor Educator Instructor Training – East Africa.
But first, back to our Patagonia training. The 31-Day Outdoor Educator Instructor Training – Patagonia is co-ed and targets college students, classroom teachers and novice outdoor educators who are 18 years and older. Tuition is just $6,600. We fly from Houston, Tex., and land in Santiago, Chile, where our local team has already worked out an invigorating itinerary.
Chile is a land of extremes, from the snow-capped volcanoes of Patagonia and dizzying heights of the Andes, to the driest desert on earth and the extensive southern glacial fields. We’ll be exploring some of the most beautiful mountains and rivers in the world, and we’ll see it with fellow explorers who have the same enthusiasm and zeal for the outdoors and education that you do.
And when it comes to gaining the experience and knowledge to become an outdoor educator, there are few better “classrooms” than Patagonia and the (more…)
Sign Up For Our North Carolina Leave No Trace Trainer CourseTraining & Certifications
If you’re really interested in making the wilderness your home office, there are few programs that can get you started that are as basic and important as our Leave No Trace Trainer Course.
Even if you have experience as a wilderness guide or outdoor educator, this two-day training gets you to a point where you can enthusiastically acquire, endorse and practice the seven principles that make up the successful Leave No Trace (LNT) philosophy.
Best news yet: We’ve still got space available for our Sept. 4 and 5 LTN Trainer course, which takes place in Wilmington, N.C. We’ve worked with LNT to ensure this course is ideal for educators, guides, agency employees and other outdoor education professionals. Successful graduates gain skills to teach Leave No Trace techniques and ethics to their co-workers, clients, friends and family.
Ours is a short and simple course — unlike the more advanced Master Educator LNT Training. And that’s not a bad thing, because as a result, it’s (more…)
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Have any further questions about our courses, what you’ll learn, or what else to expect? Contact us, we’re here to help!