Leave No Trace Guidance During Government Shutdown

You’ve read the disturbing stories reported from our national parks, now that the partial government shutdown has moved into January. The situation is serious: Wildlife picking through bins piled high with trash, latrines overflowing with waste and unfettered off-roading in fragile ecosystems. With 85% of National Park Service employees furloughed, rescue services are limited and maintenance continues to be deferred.

Please consider our most important recommendations for the duration of the shutdown:

  1. Develop a Plan B: Choose an alternative to national parks and other federal lands if at all possible. The country has many vast and sweeping state parks and municipal lands, many adjacent or nearby. So if you can, give our national lands a breather.
  2. Pack It Out: Plan ahead and prepare takes on an elevated meaning during the shutdown. Make sure that you equip yourself with extra bags for any potential trash that you generate and plan to remove all of it from the park. Pack out trash left behind by others to lessen potential impacts on wildlife, waterways, and the environment in general.
  3. It’s Time To Try: Given that many restroom facilities on federal lands are closed or already compromised, the use of biodegradable, disposable toilet-in-a-bag-type products is essential. Even if it has never been in your repertory, this is tremendously important commitment you must make to protect wildlife, water sources and fellow users. Contact your local outdoor retailer and ask if they have Restop, Clean Waste, Biffy Bags or comparable products so you can pack out your human waste.
  4. Share Well With Others: With a lack of critical personnel on site at areas, many visitors will not receive important Leave No Trace information they would otherwise absorb from rangers. Share Leave No Trace far and wide with those around you. You may find that people are very receptive to hearing from you during the shutdown.

Most importantly, if you are enjoying federal lands, do so with gentle touch. All of us here at Leave No Trace hope, for the sake of our beloved outdoors, that the shutdown ends soon. If it continues, we will share more information with you about efforts to help by the thousands of passionate members and partners. We will also continue to bring you best Leave No Trace information to help you make good decisions about enjoying our shared lands responsibly during this precarious time.

Happy New Year to you all and stay tuned for more.