Help wildlands this Earth Day! Tip #2: Leave no trace

Hikers in Glacier National Park, Montana. Photo by Jeff L. Fox.

From now until Earth Day, we invite you to read our daily staff tips on how you can make a difference for wildlands.

Earth Day Tip 2

Other Tips

Tip 1: Speak up for our nation's forests.

Tip 3: How to weigh in on conservation decisions

Tip 4: Connect kids with nature

Tip 5: Leave no canine trace

Tip 6: Volunteer on the land

Tip 7: Be a citizen scientist

With hiking and camping weather just around the corner here in Colorado and elsewhere, it’s a good time to think about how we can enjoy wild places while keeping them natural. Especially for lands that are not yet protected, their future depends on us being responsible when we visit. The Wilderness Act of 1964 says wilderness quality land should appear to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man's work “substantially unnoticeable”. If we want our favorite places to qualify for Wilderness protections, we must leave no trace as we come and go.

Here are a few ideas on keeping our human footprint as small as possible so that we can keep our land, water, and wildlife healthy:

  • Minimize your impact by using already existing trails and campsites and try to steer clear of places where human impacts are just starting to show.
  • Wipe down your boots after each trip into nature: this helps prevent the spread of invasive species, which can disrupt the delicate ecosystem you’re visiting.
  • Don’t wash your hands or dump dirty dish water into lakes, rivers, or streams in nature (and don’t forget to use eco-friendly soap). We don’t want to poison wildlife with our gray water. Plus, we all live downstream!
  • Be sure to pack recyclables back home with you. Even if waste disposal is offered at favorite trails or camp sites, recycling often is not.
  • Leave others the chance to discover by resisting the temptation to take home rocks, flowers and other natural curiosities. And always leave cultural artifacts undisturbed.
  • Check out the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics for more helpful tips on lessening your footprint.

Michael Carroll.


- Michael Carroll, Associate Director, Wilderness Support Center, Durango Colorado


photo: Hikers in Glacier National Park, Montana. Photo by Jeff L. Fox.