Leave No Trace (LNT) Seven Principles
The Leave No Trace Seven Principles, often referred to as LNT for short, are a set of guidelines for how we can interact with nature without damaging the environments we are experiencing. The principles were developed and copyrighted by The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, whose mission is to protect the outdoors by teaching and inspiring people to enjoy it responsibly.
I became a Master Educator in Leave No Trace during college as taught the Leave No Trace principles in the recreation programs I ran for my job. I feel that it is not only our responsibility to carry out the seven principles, but to educate others on them as well. I strongly believe that a pillar of stewardship is self-education, as well as educating others. If you are serious about Leave No Trace and are interested in becoming a Master Educator, you can find out more here.
The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics also provides outstanding resources to those who are already working in educational settings. They offer tools, activities, and ideas that help you teach Leave No Trace skills and ethics to others. Those teaching resources can be found here.
So, without further introduction...here are the Leave No Trace Seven Principles according to The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics.
The Leave No Trace Seven Principles are the bedrock of the Leave No Trace program. They provide guidance to enjoy our natural world in a sustainable way that avoids human-created impacts. The principles have been adapted so they can be applied in your backyard or your backcountry.
Note: click any of the headers below for a much deeper explanation on each principle.
Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
Repackage food to minimize waste.
Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.
Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
In popular areas:
Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
In pristine areas:
Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.
Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
Visit our Homepage to learn more about Leave No Trace program.
Copyright: The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. To reprint the Leave No Trace Seven Principles, include copyright language and please do not alter them without review from the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics.
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