Why 'Leave No Trace'?

Nine out of ten people who visit the outdoors are uninformed about Leave No Trace or the importance of minimizing their impacts. With over 13 billion trips into the outdoors in the U.S. alone every year, people are causing significant preventable damage, and that damage is adding up. Leave No Trace is on the forefront of changing this troubling trend—the littered parks and damaged trails, the formidable impacts of fire, polluted waterways, damage to historic artifacts and serious wildlife issues.

Consider the facts:

  • Americans pay $2.1B to fight fires in parks and forests, almost 90% of which are caused by humans.
  • Wildlife in our parks are routinely relocated or euthanized due to conflicts with humans. The National Park Service cites human garbage as the origin of many of these unfortunate and unnecessary conflicts.
  • Grand Canyon National Park, alone, has $11M in trail maintenance needs, and more than $5M in critical trail work is needed at Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The Leave No Trace organization is built upon the believe that if people do something, even something simple, to help take care of the outdoors that they cherish, we will all benefit as does the outdoors. Leave No Trace is a universal philosophy that can be part of any outdoor experience. The very nature of Leave No Trace lends itself well to fostering a cooperative spirit of stewardship.

How can you really Leave No Trace?

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.

I want to use the Leave No Trace logo. Where do I get it and how can it be used?

Please reference Leave No Trace’s Brand Standards Guide to learn how the Leave No Trace logo, Seven Principles and other texts can be used.

How do I start a Leave No Trace program in my country?

Why doesn't the Center engage in lobbying or many activism-based activities?

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.

Where does your funding come from?

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.

Do you accept guest blogs?

No, not at this time.

How can I get involved with Leave No Trace in my state?

Contact your State Advocate or complete this volunteer registry to learn more about how you can support Leave No Trace efforts in your state.

Who can I contact to run a Leave No Trace training or represent Leave No Trace at my event?

For these types of requests, contact your State Advocate or request one of our Traveling Trainer teams.

I am looking to run a Trainer Course or Awareness Workshop. Where do I start?

Request a Leave No Trace program for your park or group

Let’s protect and enjoy our natural world together

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