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Apr 18, 2014

The dangers from smoking don’t stop once a cigarette is stubbed out. Cigarette butts leach toxic chemicals and carcinogens that pollute the environment. They’re poisonous to people, wildlife and can contaminate water. Yet they’re the number one littered item on US roadways and the number one item found on beaches and in waterways worldwide.

April 22nd is Earth Day, and in observation of this day, Leave No Trace continues our campaign with the American Legacy Foundation to rethink cigarette butt litter. We have put together a list of reasons to kick those butts, but not to the curb. These places should be butt-free every day because of the negative impact on the environment, various ecosystems, and ultimately our collective public health.

  1. In the forests – Animals are wildlife eaters and could ingest the toxins from cigarette waste if we’re not careful.
  2. Parks and playgrounds – Eliminating toxic butts from the reach of children is common sense. Kids could put these butts in their mouths, or play with them in ways you might not want them to.
  3. The ocean and other waterways – In 2010, more than one-million cigarettes were removed from American beaches and inland waterways during the International Coastal Cleanup. Leached chemicals from these products can damage aquatic ecosystems. The only butts on beaches we should see are not the ones from cigarettes.
  4. National landmarks and parks – America is beautiful. Let’s remember to keep it that way by tossing butts into bins.
  5. Your driveway – Cigarette butts on your driveway can end up leaching toxic chemicals into the soil of your front yard or into the water that impacts public water supplies.
  6. The road – Though you don’t want that cigarette polluting your car, you also don’t pollute the environment. It is not ok to throw that toxic butt out of the window.


We have all been entrusted to protect our planet, yet cigarette butts remain one of the only socially acceptable forms of littering left. The billions of littered cigarette butts annually amount to enormous environmental and public health threat that our communities are left to pay for. Let’s rethink cigarette butts this Earth Day and create a healthier world for the future.

Susy Alkaitis, Deputy Director for Leave No Trace


Apr 17, 2014

Joshua Tree National Park, California- Graffiti on boulders, cliff lines, and shelters is unfortunately an issue in JTNP in Southern California. Boulders along the road into the park, at the campgrounds, and at picnic areas are marred with spray paint or carvings. There are certain impacts that are caused by a lack of knowledge or care such as choosing improperly placed campsites or people who don’t realize how long the fruit peel they just threw on to the ground will last for. Spray painting a rock in a national park or carving something into a tree or rock is a crime and disrupts the pristine environment that the park service is trying to sustain.


Boulders can be cleaned after they have been spray painted; yet it is not a complete fix and residues will still remain. Park managers in multiple parks have had to close areas because of vandalism from defacing rocks and structures with spray paint. All parts of a national park are protected under federal law from graffiti vandalism.


At the Center we encourage the use of the Authority of the Resource when you catch someone doing something less than Leave No Trace. Joshua Tree National Park encourages visitors to help prevent this form happening. Rangers cannot be everywhere and need the support of the public. JTNP encourages visitors to not approach people vandalizing rock faces, but to record the time, date, license plate numbers and what the person looks like.

Carving into a tree allows insects to invade or can kill the tree if enough people remove enough bark. We encourage people to use pictures and sketches to remember that they have been to a certain area, rather then leave their mark.  By leaving your mark on a tree, you encourage the accumulative impact of others doing it as well.

Thanks for reading and remember to be like Bigfoot and Leave No Trace.

Pat and TJ

Leave No Trace’s Patrick and Theresa Beezley are part of the 2014 Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer Program that provides free, mobile education to communities across the country. Proud partners of this program include Subaru of America, Coleman, Hi-Cone, The North Face, REI, Smartwool and Yakima.

Apr 16, 2014

In celebration of Earth Day, Grand Trunk is donating 10-percent of online sales in April to support Leave No Trace.

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Apr 15, 2014

Bronx, NY.  Spring is definitely in the air at the Bronx Botanical Gardens.  On Sunday, we worked with members of the New Youth Conservationists, a group of youth from the New York City area who participate in studies and restoration projects along the Bronx River.  Their primary focus is a one-mile section of the river that runs through the Bronx Botanical Gardens. We had the opportunity to spend a few hours on Daffodil Hill and share information with the group on how to Leave No Trace anytime they are enjoying the outdoors, whether in their neighborhoods, here at the Botanical Gardens, or out on a camping trip.  


The group takes field trips throughout the year, one of which is a three day camping trip in upstate New York.  In order to help prepare the group for this trip, we focused our workshop on the first three principles of Leave No Trace in frontcountry areas:  Know Before You Go, Stick to the Trails and Camp Overnight Right, and Trash Your Trash and Pick Up Poop.   

We discussed the importance of proper trip planning in order to ensure maximum safety and enjoyment, while also minimizing potential impacts.  After brainstorming a list of gear, the group played Minimum Impact Match, a game from the book 101 Ways to Teach Leave No Trace.  In this game, each person must figure out what piece of gear they have taped to their back by asking yes or no questions.  Once they figure out the answer, the group discusses how that piece of gear can help to Leave No Trace at the campsite.  Next, the group played a competitive game of Step On It, which looks at durable surfaces, followed by an educational look at trash, through the game How Long Does It Last?  To finish the day, the group expressed a Leave No Trace principle through song and created some amazing lyrics and beats!  Check out the Center's Facebook Page to see the video. 


After the workshop, we enjoyed a nice stroll through the gardens.  Spring is in full bloom!

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We even spotted this furry creature living in the park! 


Happy Spring...Kate and Tracy

Leave No Trace’s Kate Bullock and Tracy Howard are part of the 2014 Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer Program that provides free, mobile education to communities across the country. Proud partners of this program include Subaru of America, Coleman, Hi-Cone, The North Face, REI, Smartwool and Yakima.