How to Leave No Trace in City Parks

Washington, DC.: Visiting your local city park is a great way to get outdoors and connect with nature. While these parks are a little different than visiting the backcountry, humans can still have a big impact on the landscape. There are some things you will want to take into consideration when visiting to help minimize those impacts.
 

Consider the paths you take while walking around the park. When you can, stick to trails or boardwalks to avoid damaging non-durable vegetation. Try not to cut corners or take shortcuts, as these areas can be hot spots for impacts. 
 
When you do veer off the main path, spread out your group rather than follow in each other’s footsteps. This will help disperse your travel so no one plant or area is receiving all the impact.
 
 
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While squirrels, ducks, and other animals commonly found in city parks can seem docile, remember that they are still wildlife and should be treated as such. Never feed or approach them, or any other animals. This helps keep both them and us safe. 
 
Trash can also be a major concern in local parks. Plan ahead and repackage any food you bring to avoid the waste you will need to manage later. When trash cans are available, ensure all your trash, even orange peels, sunflower seeds, and apple cores, make it to the trash can. When receptacles are not available, pack it out and dispose of it later.
 
 
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Pay attention to park signs, rules, and closures and be considerate of other visitors. Avoid blocking paths, keep pets under control, and try to minimize your noise. Local parks bring nature into our cities and towns, and we can work together to keep these shared resources in the best shape possible so they will last for years to come.
 
 
Leave No Trace's Erin Collier and Brice Esplin are part of the 2018 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, REI, Eagles Nest Outfitters, Deuter, Thule, Taxa and Klean Kanteen.