What is the Center's stance on ATV use? Or why doesn't the Center have any recommendations for ATV users?

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.

What is the Center's stance on hunting?

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.

What is the Center's stance on geocaching?

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.

What Leave No Trace practices should backpackers do that they don't do?

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.

What is the official stance of the Center on when to dismantle fire rings, and how to dismantle them when you do?

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.

Should I not wear brightly colored clothing while recreating or use brightly colored tents while camping?

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.

Can I leave biodegradable waste (e.g. an apple core or banana peel) in the woods, as long as I hide or burry it?

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.

Can I urinate or put wastewater directly into a water source?

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.

How should I deal with my human waste in snow/alpine environments?

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.

What about ocean disposal?

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.