Discuss Leave No Trace Principles with Your Party (Details)

A group of campers talks in a circle in their forested camp. A group of kayakers gives a safety talk before setting out.
A group of women and men discuss their expedition over maps spread out on a table.
Group communication is essential to practicing Leave No Trace.

Discuss Leave No Trace Principles with Your Party:  Details   (click here for 386 kb pdf version)

The most effective Leave No Trace principles are those that are discussed and agreed upon before starting a trip and then reaffirmed throughout the expedition.

  • Discuss all of the Leave No Trace principles with your party/clients before setting out.
  • Talk about the social barriers to practicing outdoor ethics and how to overcome them.
  • Discuss the social and biophysical benefits of following Leave No Trace principles.
  • This ensures the appropriate mindset goes out into the field.
  • It is much harder to try to educate your party/clients about Leave No Trace for the first time in the wind, rain and bugs after a long day.

Discuss people’s experience, skill-levels, physical condition, comfort-levels and expectations when you are planning your expedition.

  • Significant impacts and emergencies occur when people get into situations beyond their familiarity and abilities.
  • Explicitly discussing expectations and comfort-levels helps alleviate potential stressful situations.


Discuss the appropriate gear for recreating responsibly.

  • Choose gear that is appropriate for the conditions you will encounter.
  • Review the seven Leave No Trace principles and discuss what practices and gear allow you to apply the strongest outdoor ethic.

Every Leave No Trace principle could begin with “Respect ….”

  • Leave No Trace means thinking beyond your group and your trip and conducting yourselves respectful of the natural community and of future visitors.
  • Dedicate the time and effort to learn about the natural world you will visit during your trip.
  • Consider your impact on an area in the context of past, present and future visitor impacts.

Outdoor ethics do not spontaneously emerge nor remain static. They must be regularly discussed, understood, examined and adapted.

  • Recognize that once in the field, your practices must continually adapt to the areas you are visiting.
  • Examine impacts you make, re-naturalize the area if possible and discuss how to avoid making those impacts in the future.
  • Regularly ask yourselves: How can we best blend with this area?
  • After your trip, debrief: what worked well, what did not and what would you do differently next time?

Teach Leave No Trace principles to others, especially youth, to spread responsible recreation practices.

  • As responsible citizens we must collectively improve our relationship to our public lands in order to preserve their natural integrity.
  • Teaching youth to respect the land and to recreate responsibly ensures a healthy lifelong relationship with the outdoors.
  • Consider becoming a LNT Volunteer.
  • Acquire Tread Lightly! training if you recreate in a motorized or a mechanized fashion.