Over the winter I kept myself busy looking online at all things related to camping. It brightens my day when I think about campfires and the kids swimming in the lake. During one of my many searches, I came across a non-profit company called Leave No Trace. The goal behind this organization is to educate people on how to make less of an impact on the outdoors while camping and hiking. I thought it was a great idea to get a larger awareness out to the public. It’s so important to know how to enjoy the environment without ruining it.
I am happy to be teaming up with Leave No Trace and their cause. Here are the Leave No Trace Seven Principle tips to help guide you the next time you’re out camping in the frontcountry.
Plan Ahead and Prepare
That’s a good first tip, right! No matter how silly you may think this tip is, sometimes it needs to be said. Just today I received an email from a reader who lives in North Dakota. She is looking for campgrounds for this coming weekend and wanted to know where we thought she should stay. I mentioned a few, but I also mentioned to her to look into campgrounds that have an indoor pool or at least activities to keep her family entertained in case we get hit with cold rainy weather.
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
In most cases when camping in MN you will be staying at a location that has prepared a site for your trip. However, when you are traveling into the backcountry you might have to find a place to set up camp on your own. Leave No Trace encourages guests to stay on existing trails and camp where there has been a previous camper. I find this tip useful for my family when we are hiking along the St. Croix. There is a clear path through the trees. I tell my children to stay on the path and don’t pick the flowers, otherwise the next person won’t get to enjoy them like we have during our hike.
Dispose of Waste Properly
I love the Leave No Trace quote “Pack it in. Pack it out.” It’s really that simple. Don’t leave behind any clues that you were camping in that site. It’s frustrating to me when I arrive at a campground and have to spend time cleaning up after the campers before me. I really get upset when I find broken glass and used cigarettes. I don’t want to have my kids stepping on anything that would send us to a clinic. Another thing I have found is used water balloon pieces. That can be very harmful to kids and animals!
Leave What You Find
There is a natural process that takes place when we leave nature to do it’s thing. Not only allowing the flowers and plants to do their thing, but keeping the rocks in place is just as important, too. Animals survive within the natural environment and if we remove or change it we disrupt their homes. Observing the environment without changing it helps it to flourish, so we can enjoy it to the fullest.
Minimize Campfire Impacts
Keep your campfires inside a campfire ring and use wood provided from the campground. Keep your fire small and use wood pieces that fit within your campfire ring that will help prevent sparks and the chance of losing control of your fire. Be sure to burn your wood completely and never ever leave sight of your campfire. The proper way to put out a campfire is to extinguish with water, then stir up the coals with a shovel and pour water over the campfire once again. To be safe always have a shovel and a bucket of water nearby during your campfire time.
If you see an animal during your camping stay make sure you watch it from afar. Don’t try to touch it or chase it and definitely don’t try to feed any animals. Keep your pets on a leash during your stay and always keep a close eye on them. Last year we had a coon come right up to us and without thinking I jumped onto the picnic table! Trust me, I respect the idea of leaving wildlife alone!
Be Considerate of Other Visitors
Everyone has a story of the noisy camper next to them who kept the whole campsite up all night. Try to remain respectful to the other visitors during your stay. If you are on a hiking trail step aside for groups coming your way and smile. Making another person’s experience in the outdoors better by being kinder is always a good tip.
Watch For Leave No Trace
The next time you are out camping at a State Park ask the office if they have a Leave No Tracebooth planned for that week or weekend. You never know it might be us behind the table or leading family fun activities! We would love it if you stopped by and said hi.
Happy Camping – Kelly
The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics also has derivations of the principles that correspond with various activities and environments such as Frontcountry, Kids, Heritage Sites, River Corridors, Fishing, Urban, Climbing, Hunting and International.
The member-driven Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics teaches people how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly. This copyrighted information has been reprinted with permission from the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org