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LNT: Leave What You Find, Respect Wildlife, Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Posted by Sharon Harrington on

Our last installment in the Leave No Trace Series covers three principles: Leave what you find, Respect wildlife and Be considerate of other visitors. What each of these really mean is, “Keep nature beautiful for everyone.”

Leave what you find means just what it sounds like. Don’t take anything from the wilderness that is natural and wasn’t brought in by humans. Even if a smooth rock feels neat, a leaf is beautiful or a branch makes the perfect walking stick, leave it where it belongs. These items are a significant part of nature, no matter how small they may seem. They may provide shelter or food to wildlife and they are part of what attracts people to the area. And, though removing one leaf may not make an impact, if everyone took a leaf there would be none left to be enjoyed by humans or eaten by animals. In protected areas, it is illegal to remove natural objects (like rocks, leaves and sticks) or artifacts (like arrowheads or clay pot pieces).

Leave what you find also reiterates the underlying theme of the leave no trace principles. If you move sticks or leaves aside for a campsite, replace them when you’re done. Don’t assemble new shelters, furniture or fire rings. Never carve your name into trees or use them to tie guy lines or hang anything with nails. In short, leave no trace!

Respecting wildlife and being considerate toward other visitors mostly means the same thing. It is beneficial to everyone to keep your group size small and not make a lot of noise. Of course, some noise is acceptable to warn bears and other humans of your presence. When approaching other travelers from behind announce your presence and your desire to pass. When meeting others on the trail, it is good practice for the group headed downhill to step aside and let the group going uphill by. Generally, hikers step aside for pack animals and bikers yield for both. Always have your pets on a leash and know where they are not permitted. When in the presence of wildlife, avoid quick movements and never touch or feed an animal!

While saying Leave No Trace is easy, the seven principles do require a profound amount of understanding, knowledge and skills. It is important for everyone who explores outside to follow these rules so that the outdoors remains beautiful and livable for generations to come.