Frequently Asked Questions

The Leave No Trace concept is one that crosses all boundaries of the recreation spectrum and is applicable for anyone who enjoys spending time in the out-of-doors. The idea is simple – leave the places you enjoy as good or better than you found them. There are both skills and ethics involved, as well as good decision-making. We believe that if people do something, even something simple, to help take care of the recreational resources they cherish, we will all benefit. Cleaner water, less campfire impacts, fewer negative encounters with wildlife, less damage/loss of cultural and historic artifacts are just a few of the benefits of adhering to Leave No Trace.
Leave No Trace is a universal philosophy that could and should be part of any outdoor experience. The very nature of Leave No Trace lends itself well to fostering a cooperative spirit of stewardship. From federal land management agencies to outdoor equipment manufacturers to NGOs to outfitter and guide services to local governments to individuals, Leave No Trace is the common denominator that leads us all towards the common goal of enjoying the outdoors responsibly.

It’s impossible to leave absolutely no trace of your visit to the outdoors. However, we at the Center have set the bar high in terms of our values and outdoor ethics. Leave No Trace is not intended to be taken literally. Rather, it is a philosophy that guides us while we enjoy any outdoor pursuit. If all who enjoy the outdoors were to do what they could to minimize the unavoidable impacts (trampling, erosion, etc.) and prevent the avoidable impacts (properly dealing with human waste, properly storing food and trash from animals, sticking to durable ground, keeping human and other waste out of water sources, etc.) it would go a long way towards protecting the places we enjoy from recreational impacts. The Center views Leave No Trace as a spectrum – on one end there are many impacts, on the other end there are few. We encourage people to figure out where they fit into the spectrum – where they’re comfortable – and to do what they can to minimize their individual impacts. The primary goal of Leave No Trace is to prevent the avoidable impacts and to minimize the unavoidable impacts. By doing so we can protect and preserve both natural resources and the quality of recreational experiences. This can also minimize the need for restrictive management activities by land managers. We truly believe that if everyone did something, even something small, to minimize his or her impact on the out-of-doors, the result would be profound and lasting.

The Center has seventeen paid staff, a 14 member volunteer Board of Directors, 5 advisors from its Federal Land Management Agency partners, 48 volunteer State Advocates and over 25,000 volunteers. The staff consists of 9 people who work in the national headquarters and up to eight seasonal traveling educators. The office staff works to build and review educational curriculum and programs, coordinate and conduct Leave No Trace training around the country and world, develop strategies to reach new constituents with the Leave No Trace program, and collaborates with partners and volunteers to train more people in Leave No Trace. The field staff travel throughout the lower 48 states each year conducting Leave No Trace workshop for youth and outdoor organizations, at universities, for outfitter and guide services, for public land visitors and their staff and more.

Companies, agencies, Leave No Trace educators and organizations that want to use the Leave No Trace logo must be current, official partners of the Center. For some educational purposes, logo use is permissible by non-partners with the Center’s written consent. The logo may not be altered in any way. For a full description of logo use and restrictions, visit the logo use and copyright section of the Leave No Trace website at: /aboutUs/terms.php.

Subaru of America has been a partner in the Leave No Trace program for more than a decade. Subaru supports the Traveling Trainer program and with this support, Leave No Trace is able to reach hundreds of thousands more outdoor enthusiasts across the country with training, education and outreach.

Individual Members of Leave No Trace are eligible for Subaru's VIP Partners Program. Save between $1,000–3,000 off the manufacturer's suggested retail price (depending on model and accessories) plus any applicable incentives on the purchase or lease of any new Subaru from participating dealers, without haggling. To take advantage of this benefit, Leave No Trace members must contact the Leave No Trace office before shopping for a Subaru. Our staff will arrange to have a letter of confirmation mailed to you, as well as to your pre-selected local dealer. You must be a member of Leave No Trace for 6 months before you qualify for the VIP Partners Program. This offer is not applicable if you have already taken delivery of your new Subaru. Please contact the Leave No Trace office for program details or click here, for more info.

Before a country considers forming an international branch, the Center suggests that you join as a partner first. This option may provide most, if not all, of what you need to use and teach Leave No Trace. To date, the Center has supported four countries in forming Leave No Trace organizations: Leave No Trace Australia, Leave No Trace/Sans Trace Canada, Leave No Trace Ireland and Leave No Trace New Zealand. The first steps consist of contacting the Center to receive the Leave No Trace Branch information and guidelines. The next step is assembling a committee of 12-16 leaders from your country’s major and relevant land management and government agencies, outdoor organizations, educational bodies, youth serving organizations, recreation-based organizations, corporations, etc. that will partner in establishing the organization. This committee should be a complete representation of major stakeholders that will make a national Leave No Trace program successful. Once there is discussion with the Center and agreement that broad representation is established and that a successful organization could be sustained, the committee, collectively, submits a proposal to the Center.

The Center receives a number of requests each year for outdoor events and festivals. Here are some ways that you can incorporate Leave No Trace into your event or festival:
1) Request an event through one of the Traveling Trainer teams or the e-tour.
Please request your event 3+ months in advance and keep in mind that it is subject to the teams’ schedules. The Center works hard to attend a diverse amount of events so if they are unable to attend one year, it is likely they’ll be able to attend in subsequent years.
2) Contact State Advocates and Master Educators:
Fortunately, the Traveling Trainers Teams are not alone. The teams are supported by two other groups: State Advocates and Leave No Trace Master Educators. There is a network of 48 State Advocates and more than 2,500 Master Educators nationwide. Both State Advocates and Master Educators are available to assist you in your Leave No Trace endeavors. State Advocates are volunteers who help set up Leave No Trace training events, trainings, outreach and support Leave No Trace activities around their respective states. They also have contact with other local volunteers. Master Educators have received the highest level of training offered in Leave No Trace education, and are therefore highly qualified to facilitate programs similar to those offered by the Traveling Trainers.
To contact your State Advocate and local Master Educators, please visit the Community Map and click on your state.
3) Facilitate a booth or workshop:
The Center has a number of free educational materials, as well as other training resources on our website. Please take advantage of these online resources, which can be used at a booth or outdoor workshop.
Leave No Trace Principles
Activities to teach Leave No Trace
Leave No Trace Principles brochure (PDF)
North American Skills and Ethics Booklet (PDF)
Other Education and Training Resources
Youth Programs- PEAK Program
TEEN Program
Apply for a grant

The Center participates in hundreds of events each year to perform Leave No Trace training and outreach, though the organization does not sponsor or co-sponsor these or any events. To support organizations and people teaching Leave No Trace, the Center has grants and scholarship programs for educational initiatives, tools and training. You can learn more about Leave No Trace’s grant offerings here. Actively participating in the Center’s online social medial initiatives (Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, Linkedin) is another way to get the word out about the Leave No Trace work you, your organization or company is doing.

Yes. The Leave No Trace Seven Principles may be reprinted, without alteration, when accompanied with the following copyright language:
“The Leave No Trace Seven Principles have been reprinted with permission from the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org”
If you are interested in using additional information from the Leave No Trace website, the Skills & Ethics Booklet series or other Leave No Trace publications, it must accompany copyright information and be submitted to the Center for review (please allow 4-6 weeks). For a full description of the use of Leave No Trace information visit the logo use and copyright section of the Leave No Trace website.
 

While there are many excellent FREE resources on the Leave No Trace website, the Center does have a very limited complimentary materials budget.  Please email our Information Coordinator at Info@lnt.org, for more information.  

If you're seeking funding to offset the cost of Master Educator Course tuition, the Center's scholarship program can help.  For more information, visit our Master Educator Scholarship page.

An advertising and design firm in Chicago originally created the Leave No Trace logo. The swirls had arrows on either end and were meant to suggest that you go in one side, (the outdoors), enjoy your experience (the center dot), and then come out again without leaving a trace. The arrow ends were later dropped.

  • Take part in the Bigfoot Challenge.
  • Seek outreach opportunities in your community, especially with people and groups not previously familiar with Leave No Trace.
  • Email your [State Advocate] or consider being a [State Advocate] (if your state currently has a vacancy).
  • Are you a Leave No Trace Master Educator? Contact the Center to be listed on your state’s Community page.
  • Reach out to other Leave No Trace educators in your state to create comprehensive volunteer networks (contact information available on the Community pages).
  • Become a fan of Leave No Trace on Facebook.
  • Guest blog - write a piece for the Leave No Trace Community blog to advertise courses and events, or network with other readers.
  • Have your favorite retail store, guide + outfitter service, your school, or your employer join as a Leave No Trace partner!

The Center has several programs in place to ensure that it is reaching the broadest cross-section of people possible with the Leave No Trace program. Connect, a grants program for culturally diverse communities, focuses on reaching youth and leaders/educators from Latino, African American, Black, Asian, Native American and other diverse communities. Additionally, Leave No Trace has translated its entire youth program, PEAK and Teen, into Spanish as well as other core educational pieces. The Leave No Trace Seven Principles have been translated into over a dozen languages and we offer customized Leave No Trace Master Educator Courses to the international community, work with over 50 international partners and have four international branch organizations. With regard to field-based training and people with disabilities, Leave No Trace has adjusted its curriculum to meet the needs of those in wheelchairs and with other physical disabilities when necessary.

Leave No Trace Center For Outdoor Ethics is an all-inclusive organization whose focus is education. The Center remains neutral on most political issues in order to remain all-inclusive and true to our mission of education.

The Center receives little to no federal funding. Occasionally we work with our government partners on specific projects where they provide cost share grants to support the project.

Leave No Trace is funded by a wide variety of sources, from individual members to companies in the outdoor industry. We’re constantly diversifying our funding base, ensuring that there are multiple options to donate and support the organization, including partnership, purchasing educational materials, course tuition, individual membership, grants and events.

 
The Leave No Trace concept is one that crosses all boundaries of the recreation spectrum and is applicable for anyone who enjoys spending time in the out-of-doors. The idea is simple – leave the places you enjoy as good or better than you found them. There are both skills and ethics involved, as well as good decision-making. We believe that if people do something, even something simple, to help take care of the recreational resources they cherish, we will all benefit. Cleaner water, less campfire impacts, fewer negative encounters with wildlife, less damage/loss of cultural and historic artifacts are just a few of the benefits of adhering to Leave No Trace.
Leave No Trace is a universal philosophy that could and should be part of any outdoor experience. The very nature of Leave No Trace lends itself well to fostering a cooperative spirit of stewardship. From federal land management agencies to outdoor equipment manufacturers to NGOs to outfitter and guide services to local governments to individuals, Leave No Trace is the common denominator that leads us all towards the common goal of enjoying the outdoors responsibly.

More than 80 percent of your contribution dollars are used for direct educational programs and services. The Center distributes its arsenal of important educational materials for specific outdoor activities and ecosystems to people nationwide. It also hosts key training opportunities and workshops around the country to bring people into the fold on the latest Leave No Trace practices, and actively promotes volunteerism. Finally, the Center utilizes its membership dollars to conduct research on best practices for responsible outdoor recreation.

Partnerships with corporations, universities, retailers, nonprofit organizations, guide services, international agencies, youth programs and many other groups are vital to spreading Leave No Trace skills and ethics. These partnerships are essential to the success of the Leave No Trace program. Partnership helps build a critical mass of outdoor enthusiasts who make Leave No Trace skills and ethics standard practice. Visit the Partner section of our website to find your appropriate partnership category, and download the join form. This information defines the extensive partnerships offered by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics and outlines partnership benefits and annual dues. You can either mail or email this along with your annual dues to the Center. Feel free to contact the Center at any time to discuss ways to maximize your partnership or get more involved with a Special Project.

Yes. Master Educators who are also members of Leave No Trace stay up-to-date on current principles and practices, and retain closer ties with the organization. With that in mind, all active Master Educators are required to maintain a current membership status with the Center if offering Leave No Trace Trainer Courses. “Active Master Educators” are those individuals who are actively offering Trainer Courses. Memberships can be renewed at any level, beginning at $20.

Joining Leave No Trace as a member is easy and convenient – from our website, via phone or through the mail. Your annual contribution of $20 or more makes you an active member of the Leave No Trace community for one year.

Leave No Trace is not just a slogan or a training program – it is an ethic, and a way of living. Integrating Leave No Trace ethics into how we live today positively affects the life we lead tomorrow. Visiting the Get Involved page is a good place to get started.

The Center currently distributes eight different ethics reference cards that include information about the Leave No Trace principles for various recreational activities and/or user groups. Though the core principles and themes remain the same, the information has been tailored to the specific user group. Reference cards are $.25 each, with sequential price breaks for larger quantities.
The reference cards include:
Standard Backcountry*
Frontcountry*
Kids*
Fishing
River Sports
Cultural Heritage Sites
Hunting
Geocaching
*These cards are also available in Spanish.

Leave No Trace Skills and Ethics Booklets (S&E’s) are in-depth publications about Leave No Trace practices and techniques for specific activities, environments and ecosystems. The booklets are 24-30 pages in length, with the most universal being the North American S&E, which is available free: /training/PDFs/NA.pdf. Many others have been published, which provide information that is region or activity specific.
There are 16 Skills and Ethics booklets, including:
North American*
Alaska Wildlands
Deserts and Canyons
Western River Corridors
Rocky Mountains
Northeast Mountains
Southeast
Lakes Region
Pacific Northwest
Sierra Nevada
Rock Climbing
Sea Kayaking
Mountain Biking
Fishing
Horse Use
Caving
*The North American Skills & Ethics Booklet is also available in Spanish.

No. Individual Master Educators are NOT allowed, qualified or authorized to offer Leave No Trace Master Educator Courses independent of one of the 7 approved Master Educator Course Providers. Such courses will not be recognized by the Center and participants will not receive Master Educator status from the Center. Leave No Trace Master Educators are approved to run Leave No Trace Trainer Courses and Leave No Trace Awareness Workshops. For more information, contact the Center directly.

Yes, with the exception of Leave No Trace Trainer and Master Educator Courses. While formal training in Leave No Trace can greatly enhance ones understanding of the skills and ethics associated with the Leave No Trace program, no formal training is necessary to teach others about Leave No Trace, particularly at the Leave No Trace Awareness Workshop level. Per the Leave No Trace Awareness Workshop Guidelines, individuals who are familiar with Leave No Trace but have received no formal Leave No Trace training are encouraged to conduct Awareness Workshops, which are Leave No Trace trainings that are one-day or shorter in length. There are numerous teaching resources available and individuals are encouraged to use these resources to provide Leave No Trace information to: church groups, youth groups, outing clubs, family, friends and anyone else interested in enjoying the outdoors responsibly.

Yes. In 2001 the Center, in partnership with REI, created a youth curriculum called PEAK (Promoting Environmental Awareness in Kids). The program comes in a “PEAK Pack” or packet of activities used to introduce kids the to Leave No Trace principles. The activities, which are best for the elementary school age group, can each be facilitated in 20-45 minutes. The activities are a great pre-trip lesson for an outdoor program, can be done in the field or in a classroom setting.

A standard PEAK Pack has six activities plus an instructional guide and instructional DVD. Additional activities are available. A Teen Program has also been created to introduce older youth to the Leave No Trace program. The Teen Program comes in a pack similar to PEAK and contains four activities plus instructional information. Additional activities are available. For more information about either program, visit the PEAK and Teen pages on our website.

To get involved with either program you can:

Purchase a PEAK Pack ($49.95) or Teen Pack ($24.95)
Borrow a PEAK or Teen pack at the cost of shipping (to and from)
Apply for a Packing with PEAK or Tools for Teaching grant online

Those successfully completing the Leave No Trace Master Educator or Leave No Trace Trainer course are able to conduct Awareness Workshops. Others who are familiar with Leave No Trace but have received no formal Leave No Trace training are also encouraged to conduct Awareness Workshops. Anyone offering Leave No Trace Awareness Workshops must follow the Awareness Workshop Guidelines. More information on Awareness Workshops can be found here.

Those successfully completing the Master Educator Course are able to conduct Leave No Trace Trainer Courses. Although Master Educators do not need to be affiliated with an organization to offer Trainer Courses, Master Educators must comply with the Center’s Training Agreement, be an individual member of Leave No Trace and follow the approved Leave No Trace Training Guidelines. Master Educators must also:

Possess appropriate levels of insurance (federal tort claim coverage is acceptable);
Maintain current certification in Standard First Aid and CPR at a minimum;
Distribute for signature the Center’s course risk liability release form and return signed copies to the Center;
Follow the “Core Components for Trainer Course Curriculum,” and additional Guidelines for courses included in the National Training Guidelines, for any Leave No Trace Trainer Course;
Upon course completion, submit Trainer Course rosters via the Center’s online course reporting system.

 

Yes. Insurance is required for any Master Educator who is offering 2-day Leave No Trace Trainer courses as outlined in the Leave No Trace National Training Guidelines.

From the Leave No Trace National Training Guidelines:

Insurance: Independent Contractor (Master Educator) agrees to secure an occurrence based comprehensive general liability policy in amount of $1,000,000 per occurrence, $2,000,000 aggregate, for bodily injuries and property damage. Independent Contractor agrees that this liability insurance policy will include 1) an endorsement naming the Center as an additional insured, and 2) a waiver of subrogation in favor of the Center (the insurance company waives any right to seek reimbursement from the Center). The Center’s position as an additional insured will include full coverage for the Center, whether or not the events activating a claim emanate from the Center’s, Independent Contractor’s or a third party(s)’ alleged acts, omissions or negligence. This insurance shall remain in effect for the duration of Independent Contractor’s provision of services, and continue to remain in effect regarding any occurrences related to the provision of services. Independent Contractor agrees to present the Center with proof of this insurance coverage, together with the endorsement naming the Center as an additional insured and the waiver of subrogation, 10 days prior to the provision of services. Independent Contractor shall give the Center 30 days’ written notice of any cancellation of this insurance.

The liability insurance requirement does not apply to federal agency employees (NPS, BLM, FWS, USFS, Army Corps) offering courses within their agency job capacity. Contact the Center to obtain the necessary coverage: 1.800.332.4100.

For more information regarding insurance for Master Educators click here

Once every five years the Center facilitates a Request for Proposal (RFP) process for organizations interested in becoming approved providers of the Leave No Trace Master Educator Course (the most recent RFP process was held in 2013/14). This process allows the Center to review the Master Educator Course and the approved institutions offering the course. Institutions or organizations interested in receiving authorization to provide one or more Leave No Trace Master courses must have verifiable experience in successfully teaching and instructing outdoor skills and ethics, including minimum impact travel and camping techniques. Interested institutions or organizations must also have a cadre of Leave No Trace Master Educators on staff that can provide high quality training. Such organizations must be current partners of the Center, must demonstrate adequate liability insurance and risk management systems to cover course-related accidents and mishaps and obtain all necessary permits and permissions for operating on public or other land. Additionally, chosen course providers may be required to undergo a Leave No Trace Master Educator Instructor course at their expense if deemed necessary by the Center in order to ensure a qualified pool of instructors. The next RFP process will occur in 2018/19. Contact the Center for more information on this process.

Only organizations approved by the Center can offer the Leave No Trace Master Educator Course. Currently these organizations include: the Adirondack Mountain Club, the National Outdoor Leadership School, the Appalachian Mountain Club, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Green Earth OutdoorsLandmark Learning, the Wilderness Education Association, the Ninemile Wildlands Training Center (a US Forest Service training facility), Solid Rock Outdoor Ministries, Student Conservation Association. Individual Master Educators are not approved or authorized to run Master Educator Courses under any circumstances.

It is possible for organizations to ‘host’ a custom Master Educator Course at a location of their choosing by contracting one of the approved course providers to facilitate the course. Generally, the course provider selected to offer a custom course would provide the instructors, course materials, etc. However, the more a host can provide such as food, group gear, teaching facilities, etc., the lower the course cost is likely to be per participant (generally speaking).

In many situations, Leave No Trace information is best understood and applied when it’s tailored to meet specific needs. Whether you’re a kayaker, day hiker, trail runner, birder, angler, hunter, skier or just like to lay in a field and watch the clouds roll by, having Leave No Trace information that is relevant to you and your environment is ideal.
We encourage individuals to obtain a copy of the Leave No Trace Skills & Ethics Booklet that is geared towards their recreational interest and location. The Skills & Ethics series is the definitive text on Leave No Trace for various activities and ecosystems. Should you have a unique situation or activity that is not covered in one of the Skills & Ethics Booklets, feel free to contact the Center to discuss your specific needs.

1. Visit the community page for your state (and nearby states) to see if there are any Trainer Courses/Workshops listed.
2. Contact the State Advocate and Master Educators listed in your area and work to set-up a Trainer Course/Workshop.
3. Check the Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer schedule and request an event (3+ months in advance).
4. Contact the Center with questions or for more information?

The Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers provide unique hands-on educational workshops and trainings. They work with a wide range of audiences such as youth serving organizations, college students, outdoor guides, clubs, land management agency personnel and outdoor companies. Our teams of educators are split into East and West Coast teams. Please request all Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer visits online. If you live in the West, click here, if you live in the East click here. You will generally hear back from us in 4-6 weeks to discuss a possible visit from one of our teams.

Each year the Center juggles the challenge (and opportunity) of increased requests for Traveling Trainer visits. As more organizations and individuals learn about the Traveling Trainer program, the demand for training continues to escalate. Due to this ever-increasing demand there is no guarantee that we will be able to attend your event. Thank you for your understanding.

Leave No Trace Master Educator – Someone who has successfully completed an approved Master Educator Course. These individuals are qualified to facilitate Leave No Trace Trainer Courses (with an appropriate co-instructor) and Leave No Trace Awareness Workshops. More information here.

Leave No Trace Trainer – Someone who has successfully completed a 2-day Leave No Trace Trainer Course. The individuals are qualified to co-instruct Leave No Trace Trainer Courses (with a Leave No Trace Master Educator) and Leave No Trace Awareness Workshops. More information here.

Leave No Trace Awareness Workshop – Any formal Leave No Trace Training that is one-day or less in length. Leave No Trace Master Educators, Leave No Trace Trainers or anyone who is familiar with Leave No Trace skills, ethics and techniques can facilitate these workshops. More information here.

The Center provides customized Leave No Trace Master Educator and Leave No Trace Trainer Courses for the international community. To receive comprehensive information about international course offerings and costs, contact susy@LNT.org. To learn more about the Master Educator Course go here.

Leave No Trace introduced an online Leave No Trace Awareness Workshop in 2009.

There are many different ways to become trained in Leave No Trace. When seeking out Leave No Trace training, think about your intended outcomes, how you plan on using the information, if it’s a professional requirement, etc. Then choose from one of the following options:
Leave No Trace Awareness Workshop
Description: A one-day or shorter workshop for the general public about the Leave No Trace program. Participants receive a certificate of completion.
Best for: Individuals interested in general information about Leave No Trace that they intend to share with their families, friends, colleagues or students.
Cost: Most often free, or under $10 (for any materials included)
How to get involved:
1. Check the community page for your state to see if there are any Awareness Workshops listed.
2. Contact the State Advocate and Master Educators listed in your area and work with them to set-up a workshop.
3. Check the Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer schedule and request an event (3+ months in advance).
4. Contact the Center with questions or for more information.
Leave No Trace Trainer Course
Description: A two-day field based course for individuals wanting to train others in Leave No Trace Outdoor skills and ethics. Upon completion, participants are recognized as a Leave No Trace Trainers and receive a certificate of completion.
Best for: Individuals interested in more in-depth knowledge of the Leave No Trace program and who want resources to be able to teach Leave No Trace to others; individuals leading, guiding and teaching others in outdoor programs; college students in a related field.
Cost: Varies, but averages approximately $50-100 per participant.
How to get involved:
1. Check out the community page for your state (and nearby states) to see if there are any Trainer Courses listed.
2. Contact the State Advocate and Master Educators listed in your area and work with them to set-up a Trainer Course.
3. Check out the Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer schedule and request an event (3+ months in advance). /programs/travelingtrainers.php
4. Contact the Center with questions or for more information.
Leave No Trace Master Educator Course
Description: A five-day field-based course in Leave No Trace practices and techniques, including 3+ nights in the field. Upon completion, participants are recognized as a Leave No Trace Master Educators and receive a certificate of completion.
Best for: Individuals in an outdoor-related profession; guides; land management agency personnel; individual intending to run Leave No Trace Trainer Courses for their staff or the general public.
Cost: Tuition varies with the Course Provider and the course location, generally ranging from $400-$840.
How to get involved: Master Educator Courses are offered by one of the Course Providers contracted through the Center. Currently, these Course Providers include: the Appalachian Mountain Club, Landmark Learning, the Wilderness Education Association, the USDA Forest Service—Ninemile Wildlands Training Center, the National Outdoor Leadership School and the Boys Scouts of America (an in-house provider for registered BSA members only). Visit the Master Educator Course page: /training/mastereducator.php. to view the current course schedule and registration information. For detailed information about a specific course, contact the Course Provider directly.

Currently, Leave No Trace Master Educator Course are offered by the following approved providers:

The Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK)
The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC)
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC)
Backcountry Horsemen of California (BCHC)
Green Earth Outdoors
Landmark Learning
The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS)
The Ninemile Wildlands Training Center (a USDA Forest Service facility)
Solid Rock Outdoor Ministries (SROM)
Student Conservation Association (SCA)
The Boy Scout of America (only for registered BSA members)
More information on our Master Educator Course Providers can be found here.

 

 

Leave No Trace training does not expire. However, since techniques and practices evolve over time, we encourage trained individuals to maintain contact with the Center to stay abreast of changing techniques, practices and the development of new teaching and educational materials. Master Educators who wish to offer Leave No Trace Trainer Courses are required to be individual members of Leave No Trace.

A question we hear often is “Are Leave No Trace Trainers or Master Educators ‘certified’ or do they receive ‘certification’ in Leave No Trace?” The short answer is no. Many people who attend courses are under the impression that once they attend a Master Educator or Trainer Course or an Awareness Workshop that they are "certified" in Leave No Trace. This is not the case. The word "certification" carries with it many legal implications that the Center has chosen to avoid. Therefore, individuals who attend either a Master Educator or Trainer course or an Awareness Workshop, are "trained" but not "certified.” There is no certification in Leave No Trace available through the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics or through any of its educational course providers. So, to say that you (or someone else) are a "Certified Leave No Trace Trainer/Master Educator" is incorrect. Instead, the Center uses phrases such as "successfully completed,” or "trained in Leave No Trace,” or “a trained instructor of Leave No Trace,” and "upon successful completion of a course, you will receive a certificate stating that you are trained in Leave No Trace.”

Our position on trekking pole use is simple: We feel that trekking poles, when used properly, can help people enjoy the outdoors safely by giving an added level of stability and traction to those who otherwise may not be able to hike safely without them, e.g. those with joint issues, knee issues, etc.
That said, we encourage trekking pole users to give some thought to when and where poles could or should be used, depending on the environment. In some areas trekking pole use causes little damage whereas in other areas the damage can be severe.
As for the use of rubber tips, there is evidence that they can reduce impacts but there is also the logical counter position that they can reduce traction. To use or not to use is an individual decision. If someone were to use them, we’d ask that they secure them to the pole (use a small hose clamp for example) so they don’t inadvertently fall off and become litter.

The Leave No Trace ethic is appropriate anywhere and everywhere - from deep Wilderness to your local city park. While the Leave No Trace program has its roots in backcountry and Wilderness, it has moved far beyond these areas and continues to be applied in new ways daily. The most applicable Leave No Trace information for urban environments is likely found in the Leave No Trace Frontcountry Program. Frontcountry is defined as outdoor areas that are easily accessed by car and mostly visited by day users. You can find more information on the Frontcountry program here. If you need information or guidance for activities or environments not addressed by the Frontcountry program, please contact the Center.

The Center primarily focuses on non-motorized recreation but feels that Leave No Trace is appropriate for anyone who spends time in the out of doors. For those interested in outdoor ethics specific to motorized recreation such as ATV’s, OHV’s, PWC’s, etc., please contact Tread Lightly.

The Center views hunting as a traditional outdoor recreational pursuit that benefits wildlife conservation when done legally. The Center respects the long-standing tradition of hunting, expects all hunters to abide by all applicable state game and hunting laws, and encourages all hunters to adhere to the Leave No Trace ethic when in the field. There are hunting-specific Leave No Trace educational materials available.

The Center views geocaching as a fun and worthwhile recreational pursuit when done in accordance with land management agency regulations and with Leave No Trace in mind. As the popularity of geocaching has exploded over the past few years, land managers in many areas are seeing more impacts related to geocaching. However, because of geocaching, more and more people are enjoying the outdoors. Both people placing caches and people seeking caches need to research current regulations on geocaching for the areas where they wish to partake in this activity. The Center also has geocaching-specific information.

The most important thing that we’d like to see more backpackers do is better pre-trip planning, i.e. making sure they know about the area they plan on visiting, the local regulations/conditions (particularly regarding to human waste disposal, food/trash storage, fires/stoves, etc.), any special concerns such as terrain, weather hazards, local wildlife concerns and group size limits. The better prepared a backpacker is, the safer his/her trip will be, the lighter his/her pack will be, and his/her overall impact can be greatly reduced.

While it is preferable in many areas to remove old fire rings and consolidate to either one central fire ring or a few well designed and located fire rings, we always recommend checking with the local land management agency before removing any structures such as fire rings. It’s possible that the managing agency would like to have the older or excessive fire rings removed but you should give them a call first. Even though we defer to local land managers on the removal of fire rings we do recommend the following in our North American Skills & Ethics Booklet: In popular areas, leave a single, small, clean rock ring centered in the campsite. Dismantle and clean up any extra fire rings.

One aspect of outdoor recreation that some people seek is solitude – the feeling that you’re the only one there. In order to help protect the solitude of our wildest places, we recommend considering if brightly colored gear is necessary. In certain circumstances such as mountaineering, climbing or hiking, backpacking and mountain biking during hunting season, etc., it is absolutely necessary for safety. However, there are locations where brightly colored equipment can detract, sometimes substantially, from the experience. We ask that people consider the situation and make the best decision regarding safety, protection of the environment and protection of the outdoor experience.
The first Leave No Trace principle is Plan Ahead and Prepare. This is the step where we encourage people to learn about where they plan to go, obtain the right gear, find out what they can expect and inform themselves about potential safety concerns. Every outdoor situation is different and some warrant brightly colored gear and clothing for safety. We feel that safety is the single most important aspect of any outdoor adventure, and strongly recommend that people to do whatever is needed to enjoy the outdoors safely.

Most items thought of as biodegradable, such as apples and apple cores, orange peels, banana peels, nuts, candy, etc., aren't native to most natural environments, and generally aren’t thought of as suitable food for wildlife. Anything that we carry into the woods should come out of the woods with us. Otherwise it's simply trash. One apple core will not completely disrupt the local ecosystem, but litter is litter. The biggest problem with improperly disposing of food waste, e.g. tossing apple cores into the woods, is that it is ultimately harmful to wildlife. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters their natural behaviors and exposes them to predators and other dangers. News headlines are often made when wildlife is attracted to human food. Bears, more than any other animal, get the most press for tearing into tents, raiding food caches, coolers and cars in search of a meal. Generally, however, campers and hikers have to deal with less threatening, but often more annoying, rodents, raccoons, birds, etc., looking for a handout. These animals are a nuisance and can be vectors for disease, not to mention that their dependence on human food is a detriment to their own well being. Human foods are harmful to wildlife because animals would otherwise forage and eat a nutritious diet derived from their natural environment.
Ask yourself this question: Would this [insert biodegradable item] be here if I weren’t?

Generally speaking, no urine or wastewater should ever go into a water source. Both kinds of liquid waste should be disposed of a minimum of 200 ft. from any water source. However, there is one environment where disposal of liquid waste into a water source may be acceptable and/or required by the land management agency: arid, silt laden, high-volume western rivers such as the Colorado and the Green. The idea is that “dilution is the solution” in these unique environments.
In many western river corridors it is virtually impossible to get 200 ft. from the water. Over time the practice of surface disposal of liquid wastes lead to river runners disposing of liquid waste in the same locations in the same campsites over and over. Due to very limited precipitation (washing effect), this lead to both biophysical and aesthetic impacts. Land managers eventually determined that another method had to be employed to dispose of this liquid waste that was being generated by river users, and eventually determined that putting the liquid waste directly into the water was – in certain cases – the best option. Each agency and each river are different therefore it is always best to check with the land management agency first as they will likely have a specific regulation in place for dealing with liquid waste.
A good rule of thumb is this: if the water is clear flowing and you can get 200 ft. from the water, then do so and dispose of your liquid waste far from the water. If the water is high-volume (more than 1000 cfs), silt-laden, you’re in an arid environment, and you can’t get out of the immediate river corridor (more than 200 ft.) consider disposing of your liquid waste directly into the water. All dishwater should be strained prior to being put into the river or broadcast 200 ft from the water, depending on the recommended/required method of disposal.

Winter conditions present special challenges. Water is everywhere—it just happens to be frozen—and the soil may be several feet out of reach and as hard as a rock. Poop tubes, bag systems or other “packing out” solutions may be the best disposal option unless you can locate a patch of bare ground, usually under a tree where a trowel can penetrate the duff. Because waste generally freezes in the winter, packing it out is not as distasteful as you may think. Check with local land management agencies to see what the regulations or recommendations are for the area you plan to visit before your trip.

Although ocean disposal has been suggested in the past, it is no longer recommended for disposing of human waste. While anecdotal information has suggested that the ocean environment readily breaks down human feces and related pathogens, there is no concrete biological research backing the practice of ocean disposal. Furthermore, in many popular paddling regions depositing human waste in near-shore waters is a violation of state laws. Be sure to check with local land management agencies for the best disposal method for the area you plan to visit.

The absolute best way to dispose of human waste in costal environments is to pack the waste out using either a bag-type system or a reusable, washable toilet. Other options include using provided facilities – flush toilets, outhouses, privies, etc. – when available. If no other options are available consider using a cathole dug 6-8 inches deep at least 200 ft. from any water source.

While there is no one right answer, the Center encourages all stock users to inquire with the land management agency about the preferred method of managing stock in the areas they plan to visit. All four of these methods – pickets, highlines, portable electric fencing and hobbles – are acceptable for managing stock but the most appropriate method should be determined by the land management agency. Additionally, many areas have facilities built for managing stock in a backcountry and frontcountry campsites and points of interest. Where these exist, the Center recommends their use.

Generally speaking, no. Bears in the Sierra’s (and other places) are quite crafty and have managed to obtain food from even the best bear bag hang. In many locations, bear-proof canisters are required by the land management agencies and should be used at all times to store food, trash and “smellables” such as sunscreen, bug repellent, toothpaste, etc. when in the backcountry. It is strongly recommended that you practice packing your food and smellables into the bear canister before your trip to ensure everything will fit. You don’t want to find out at your campsite that you don’t have room for everything in your bear canister. Additionally, bear canisters should be properly sealed even when in an attended campsite. For more information on proper food and trash storage in the Sierra’s, please visit: http://www.sierrawildbear.gov/

In areas with cryptogam (cryptobiotic soil), it is vital to concentrate use on durable ground. Open expanses of rock, known as slickrock, and dry washes where no cryptobiotic soil crusts can grow, provide excellent minimum-impact travel corridors. Areas covered with dense leaf litter, such as found under pinyon and juniper trees, offer another durable surface for walking or camping. If you find yourself surrounded by cryptobiotic soil crusts, step directly in one another’s footprints as you move across the crusts to a more resistant travel path. The first footprint actually causes the most damage, so it is inappropriate to spread out when crossing cryptogam. Crosscountry travel should be avoided in such fragile places, and camping on these soils should never be necessary. Stay on rock or in dry washes. Be aware of flash flood danger if camping or traveling in any wash.

We do not advocate burning toilet paper. Plan ahead to pack the toilet paper out—in a plastic bag—with you. This will leave the least impact on the area. Otherwise, use as little as possible and bury it deeply in the cathole. Attempts to burn toilet paper at the site are not recommended. It rarely burns completely, and has been the cause of wildfires. “Natural” toilet paper such as grass, sticks, and snow can be surprisingly effective, and should always be buried deeply in the hole. Always pack out feminine hygiene products because they decompose slowly and attract animals. We do advocate packing out used TP but still give folks an out if they’re too disgusted by the mere thought of it, i.e. bury it deeply in the cathole.
We never recommend burning trash regardless of the length of trip. We recommend repackaging food (and other items that could generate trash) before the trip to ensure the least amount of garbage and trash will be hauled into the backcountry, thereby mitigating the need to burn trash. The reason we don’t recommend burning trash is that it generally takes a hot fire to completely burn trash to ash, which presents its own set of issues. Additionally, partially burned trash and food is usually a magnet for scavenging wildlife, which can lead to wildlife becoming habituated to human foods, i.e. animals lose their fear of humans and seek them out to obtain food. When this occurs, wildlife almost always loses in the end.

Generally speaking, bag-type systems for packing out human waste contain bags that are biodegradable. They are usually made with a blend of polymers and natural starches to break down in landfill conditions after 6-8 months, depending on conditions. There are generally two bags: one waste collection bag pre-loaded with a powder treatment used to contain the waste, and a heavy gauge bag to secure and transport waste. Most commercially available bags are approved for disposal with normal trash as group II non-hazardous waste.
While the use of bag type systems for disposing of solid human waste does in and of itself generate trash, recreationists will have to individually weigh the benefits, regulations and possible downside (creating more trash) of using such systems. More and more areas are now requiring that solid human waste be packed out and these systems offer a very sanitary and easy way to accomplish what could be a rather unpleasant task.

One of the primary arguments land managers use for limiting group size is that large groups have profound social impacts on other visitors. This impact can be mitigated by behavior. A courteous, well-behaved group can do wonders to minimize the potential negative issues associated with large groups. The Center recommends adhering to group size limits stipulated by the land management agency for the area you’re visiting. If the group size limit is 10, this means that your group should never congregate in a group larger than 10. If you have more individuals in your group than the group size limits allow, consider breaking up into small groups that meet the group size requirements or contact the land management agency to see if a Special Use Permit can be issued allowing for a larger group.

The primary objective for disposing of human waste and/or wastewater (dish water, toothpaste, etc.) a minimum of 200 ft from water. is to minimize the impact to water sources. Water is a precious resource and recreationists should take every reasonable precaution to protect the quality of all water sources. In most environments, when wastewater is deposited on the ground, it is filtered through the organic material and vegetation before entering the soil. This process helps lessen the impact to water sources. As for human waste, the 200 ft. barrier gives an added layer of protection to water sources by allowing the waste to decompose with little chance of introducing pathogens into springs, rivers, lakes and creeks.
Dish Washing: For dishwashing, collect water in a clean pot or expanding jug and take it to a wash site at least 200 feet away from water sources. This lessens trampling of lakeshores, riverbanks and springs, and helps keep soap and other pollutants out of the water. Use hot water, elbow grease, and as little soap as necessary to do the job. Strain dirty dishwater with a fine mesh strainer before scattering it broadly well away from camp, especially if bears are a concern. Pack out the contents of the strainer in a plastic bag along with any uneaten leftovers.
Human Waste: If no facilities are available, deposit solid human waste in “cat holes” dug 6 to 8 inches deep at least 200 feet from water, camp, trails, and drainages. This practice is acceptable for most environments. However, check with the Center or appropriate land management agency if unsure. Bring a trowel to dig the hole, and disguise it well after use. The microbes found in soil will break down feces and the pathogens they contain. If possible, it is recommended that used toilet paper be packed out. Otherwise, use as little as necessary and bury it deeply in the hole.
Soaps and lotions: Soap, even when it’s biodegradable, can affect the water quality of lakes and streams, so minimize its use. Always wash yourself well away from shorelines (200 feet), and rinse with water carried in a pot or jug. This allows the soil to act as a filter. Where fresh water is scarce, think twice before swimming in creeks or potholes. Lotion, sunscreen, insect repellent and body oils can contaminate these vital water sources. Unscented soaps and lotions are strongly recommended when traveling and camping in bear country. Consider rinsing yourself off 200 ft from water sources before entering any water source to remove bug repellent, lotion, sunscreen, etc.

The idea of packing out your human waste can be fairly (to completely) unpalatable but there is no doubt that it leaves the least impact on the local environment of any other method of disposing of human waste. Packing waste out of sensitive, highly used areas is likely the only realistic option for minimizing the impact on the area. The Center encourages outdoor enthusiast to give some thought to the impact (human waste in particular) that they leave behind which will undoubtedly impact other people, water, wildlife or all of the above. Generally speaking, the Restop, Go Anywhere (formerly WAG Bag) and Biffy Bag systems are easiest for backpacking/hiking use, while the others (such as reusable, washable toilet systems) are better suited for paddling/rafting trips. The Center encourages outdoor enthusiast to consider the four objectives of proper disposal of human waste and to strive to meet these objectives:
• Avoid polluting water sources.
• Eliminate contact with insects and animals.
• Maximize decomposition.
• Minimize the chances of social impacts.
The Center also recognizes that there is a spectrum of options for properly disposing of human waste in the out of doors. Options include:
Toilet facilities -> Outhouses -> Privies -> Catholes (burying the toilet paper deeply in the hole) -> Catholes (packing out the toilet paper) -> Packing out your human waste.

1. Properly deal with human waste in the out-of-doors. Check local regulations to make sure that proper protocol is followed (catholes, pack out, etc.). Human waste can be a significant impact and should be dealt with appropriately.
2. Properly store food and trash from wildlife. The saying “a fed bear is a dead bear” is a good mantra but remember that smaller animals can be just as impacted by obtaining and developing a taste for human foods. Check local regulations to see what food/trash storage is preferred – bear canisters, bear bags, etc.
3. Minimize campfire impacts. There are many areas where campfires are both allowed and appropriate. However, there are some areas where fires aren’t allowed or just aren’t responsible. Be prepared with alternative means for cooking, light and warmth.
4. Respect wildlife and observe from a distance. It’s a treat to see wildlife (big or small) function in a normal, natural way. Outdoor enthusiast should do everything they can to ensure that wildlife isn’t unduly impacted.
5. Be mindful of other people that may be visiting the same areas because we’re all enjoying a finite resource. Be conscientious of how certain actions may negatively impact someone else’s outdoor experience.
Remember the Golden Rule – do unto others...