Leave no trace is important for all of us. These 7 principles that you can find on their website are considered the standard for how we should conduct ourselves in the woods. Unfortunately, there are people that do not follow leave no trace. Instead of just shaming or calling them bad people, I want to cover the reasons why ALL of us should follow leave no trace and hope those people will feel called to action.
While I know that a lot of this will be preaching to the choir, hopefully the next time that you find one of these people not following leave no trace, you can use some of these reasons to convince them that they should.
We all want to use this land again. Your wrapper multiplies. That water comes down to you
We All Want to Use this Land Again
Not only do you want to use this land again, but they do as well. That is why they are out there and hopefully they want their kids to be able to enjoy these lands too. The more that we destroy the lands that we have now, the less that will be available in even ten years. Looking at these lands as renewable and hardy is false. They are anything but. The damage that occurs on these lands can last years.
While not everyone is able to see the long-term damage, look back to even the early 1900’s. If something wasn’t done at that time and at the rate of damage that was incurring, we would have no wilderness or wild lands left. If that could have happened 100 years ago, why would we think that could not happen now. We must be good stewards of the lands that we own if we want them to be around for another 100 years.
Your Wrapper Multiplies
Every time that you leave trash out in the woods it takes decades at the minimum for that trash to decompose. Now you may be thinking that one piece of trash doesn’t matter that much, that it will easily get lost in all of nature and no one will ever see it again. The problem with this way of thinking is that you are not alone.
Others think this same way and therefore your one piece of trash multiplies by the number of people that are doing the very same thing that you are doing. If you are not keeping yourself accountable, who can? Leave no trace starts with yourself first and then moves to the community as a whole.
Indifference is easy and quickly followed. If you leave trash in a firepit or along the trail, other will follow suit. They think that it is acceptable here or that it has already been done, either way, others will do what you have done. This breeds more trash and more destruction in this area.
While you cannot be responsible for the actions of those behind you, you can still set a standard for them to follow. If you respect our public lands and leave them clean, others are more likely to as well.
Keep your trash from multiplying and take it out with you.
That Water Comes Down to You
That water that you are trashing up on the mountain is almost always the same water that you drink at home. Even if you don’t live in that area others in town do drink it. Just because it is far away from civilization does not mean it doesn’t affect those municipalities below. If one small river becomes contaminated above, this problem only multiplies as other rivers join up.
Also, that trash that you leave on the ground could very well be on a watershed. Even though the ground is dry now, does not mean that water doesn’t flow through this area in wetter times. Those actions that you make could still affect the water that you drink. Watch for these areas when you dig your cat hole as well. While you may not always notice them, try to avoid these areas for doing your business.
We all want to enjoy our public lands, and we all want them to be there for our future generations. In order to do this however, we need to be good stewards of the lands that we are entrusted with. This means not taking them for granted and not wasting the opportunities that we have with them.
Practicing leave no trace isn’t propaganda from a company, it is a set of guidelines on how to be a decent human being in the lands that we all use and share. Take the time to do the right things out there and treat the lands, and other users of these lands with respect.
Written by: Brian Coe