Outdoor Recreation Ethics

What is Leave No Trace and Why is it Necessary?

When you take a trip to the Chugach or Tongass National Forests, the biggest and wildest national forests, you expect to find wild Alaska:

A river pours around mossy rocks in a rain forest.Two blue icebergs float before forested mountains under a cloudy sky.
Unfortunately people lacking outdoor ethics are impacting our public lands and destroying the wildness. Increasingly our rangers are finding tarnished Alaska:
A fire ring is brimming with beer bottles, foil, melted plastic and paper trash.

12 beer bottles, 1 water bottle, paper towel and Mac & Cheese all found in 3-foot diameter fire ring. 2 more beer bottles and rope found in intertidal zone. The rest of the area is hammered from many people creating many trails.

A water bottle stands next to the stump of a hacked down tree.

This site has suffered recent use and abuse. Someone felled a 6"diameter tree and built a 3' diameter fire pit next to it. The pit was full of trash: plastic, foil, soda cans. Six trees in the vicinity were limbed up to seven feet high, presumably for firewood. Several pilings, a cultural resource from the old settlement, have also been chainsawed.

Trash is scattered around a camp where a fire has burned a deep pit in the organic duff.

Poop zone and 1 whole roll soiled/wadded TP in west end of forest. Second poop zone 30 feet into forest near small pond; mounds of soiled TP found in 2 nd spot. Third poop zone and TP pile found discovered 15 feet east of creek under thick alder thicket.

A giant wad of soiled toilet paper offends the viewer.

The above are excerpts and photos from recent reports by rangers working on remote parts of the Chugach and Tongass National Forests. Many areas closer to town are suffering similar or even greater impacts.

Leave No Trace (LNT) is a set of principles designed to cultivate outdoor ethics and protect the natural integrity of our public lands. By promoting and following these principles, you blend your visit with the natural environment and serve as a steward of our public lands.

The Seven Principles of Leave No Trace:

  • Plan Ahead and Prepare
  • Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  • Dispose of Waste Properly
  • Leave What You Find
  • Minimize Campfire Impacts
  • Respect Wildlife
  • Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Whether you are going on a short walk from town or on a long expedition into the backcountry, we ask that you embrace Leave No Trace and that you encourage others to do the same. By serving as responsible stewards we can preserve the integrity of the Chugach and Tongass National Forests and enjoy the wild Alaska experience for years to come.

A clean river runs around rocks from snowy mountains in the background.An orange sunset fills the sky over a bay amidst forested islands.

Leave No Trace Principles for the Chugach and Tongass National Forests

Portions of this information contain text copyrighted by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. For additional information on Leave No Trace in general, visit www.LNT.org or call 1.800.332.4100.

For additional Leave No Trace information regarding Alaska, you can order the Alaska Wildlands Leave No Trace bookletfrom the Alaska Geographic Association.

For outdoor enthusiasts who use motorized or mechanized vehicles (e.g. off-road vehicles, mountain bikes, jet skis, snowmobiles, motor boats, etc.), Tread Lightly! is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting ethical vehicular recreation on our lands and waters. Please visit www.treadlightly.org or call 1.800.966.9900 for more information.

History of Leave No Trace (47 kb pdf)

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