Leave No Trace's Gold Standard Designation

Gold Standard is Leave No Trace’s highest form of recognition. Sites, organizations, and programs that achieve Gold Standard designation are recognized nationally for their implementation of Leave No Trace. The designation process provides a framework for building a well developed Leave No Trace educational program that can result in more informed visitors and less recreation related impacts.

Gold Standard Youth Program

The Gold Standard Youth Program designation is our highest form of recognition for youth serving organizations such as camps, school programs, etc. You can view all designation types here. 

Step-By-Step Implementation Guide

A detailed checklist for each phase of the designation process.

Gold Standard Designation Process

While the designation timeline will vary depending on the site, the following is an overview of what to expect.

Designation is based on the Leave No Trace assessment. the best first step is to utilize the assessment to understand the baseline and create an action plan for next steps. 

It is critical to build a foundational knowledge of Leave No Trace. Identifying key staff and/or volunteers to receive Leave No Trace training is an important step.

Using an Action Plan created from the Leave No Trace Assessment, begin implementing Leave No Trace education and messaging into priority areas. 

When your site or organization is ready, pay the application fee and submit your proposal for Gold Standard designation to [email protected]

Leave No Trace will review your application, provide a summary, and schedule a meeting to verify application components. A site visit may also be scheduled. Once awarded, designation lasts five years, after which you will need to resubmit materials to maintain the designation. 

Take the Assessment

Leave No Trace Assessment

The assessment serves as the preliminary evaluation of Leave No Trace programming and is the first step in determining Gold Standard designation status.

Frequently Asked Questions

Gold Standard designation is Leave No Trace’s highest standard of recognition. It is achieved through the integration of Leave No Trace messaging and education throughout a site, program, organization, etc. The designation process creates a framework for implementing Leave No Trace education into all aspects of outdoor recreation. 

Yes. Leave No Trace’s Youth Program Accreditation was merged with Gold Standard designation. If you have youth program accreditation materials, these are still applicable and will help your through the designation process.

Designation is based on the Leave No Trace Assessment, which includes criteria that measure how Leave No Trace is implemented and at what level. Designees also must maintain a Leave No Trace partnership or equivalent agreement, submit annual reporting, and re-designate on a five year cycle. 

Designees can utilize the Leave No Trace Gold Standard logo and are listed on the Leave No Trace website. Completing the work required to achieve the designation builds a well developed Leave No Trace educational program that can result in more informed visitors, less recreation related impacts, reduced search and rescue needs, and more resilient parks and protected areas. 

Designation is on a five year cycle. Designees will need to submit a short annual report each year and re-designate every five years. 

There is a $200 application fee to cover Leave No Trace staff time spent reviewing and verifying the application. If you are unable to pay the application fee, you can submit a waiver with your application.

Follow the steps outlined in the Step By Step Implementation Guide. The best first step is collecting baseline data using the Leave No Trace Assessment. 

Leave No Trace consulting services can provide additional assistance in the designation process. 

Please contact [email protected] for further guidance. 

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