Outdoor Safety & Ethics
Know Before You Go Into The Forest
Spending time outdoors is a healthy way to stay active, bond with your family, and reduce stress and anxiety. However, it’s now more important than ever for all of us to take personal responsibility in keeping ourselves and our favorite outdoor places safe.
Pay special attention to local regulations so that you are aware of restrictions on fire, activities, and even pets. Above all else, leave our precious recreation spots better than you found it by disposing all waste properly, minimizing campfire impacts, and being considerate of others. View the resources below to explore other ways you and your family can be safe and ethical while enjoying the outdoors.
Select the headings below for more information.
Respect living trees. By carving or chopping into the trunks of trees, people unknowingly damage the tree by slitting veins right below the bark. These veins transport nutrients and water throughout the tree. If the damage becomes severe, it will deprive the tree of nutrients and food, and the tree slowly starves to death.
Preserve and protect your National Forests by leaving natural areas the way you find them. Enter buildings, structures, or enclosed areas in National Forests only when it is explicitly expressed that they are open to the public. Archaeological, historic and sacred sites hold clues to America’s past. If disturbed, a part of our heritage may be lost forever.
Where fees are required, you must pay them before using the site, facility, equipment, or service furnished. So please, do not damage or remove any such historic or archeological resource. Disturbing such sites on federal lands is illegal and can result in substantial penalties. Help us protect these sites and contact your nearest district ranger to report illegal activity.
"Leave No Trace" is a national and international program designed to assist outdoor enthusiasts with their decisions about how to reduce their impacts when they hike, camp, picnic, snowshoe, run, bike, hunt, paddle, ride horses, fish, ski or climb. The program strives to educate all those who enjoy the outdoors about the nature of their recreational impacts as well as techniques to prevent and minimize such impacts.
Leave No Trace is best understood as an educational and ethical program, not as a set of rules and regulations. The "Tread Lightly" organization and it's partners, like the USDA Forest Service, head a national initiative to protect and enhance recreation access and opportunities by promoting outdoor ethics to heighten individuals' sense of good stewardship. Find out more plus watch some informative videos at "Tread Lightly!"
Enjoy the outdoors. Your national forests and grasslands provide a natural arena for a wide variety of fun and exciting outdoor activities. Some sites require a modest recreation fee to help provide the services and facilities at the site. The weather can change suddenly and dramatically. Be prepared by monitoring weather conditions before you set out for the day.
Respect wildlife. We share the outdoors with a variety of animals who make the forest their home. Remember, these are not pets. Keep a safe distance from them and be careful not to disturb their habitat. For deeper understanding for each area regarding recreating, the outdoor elements and wildlife go to "Know Before You Go" site page.
Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their outdoor experience. Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail. Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock. Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises. Operate any audio device, such as a radio or musical instrument, so that it does not disturb other visitors or wildlife. Please no fighting or boisterous behavior.
Garbage containers, when provided, are reserved for the use of visitors to the National Forest, not visitors to or owners of private lands or lands under permit. Throw all garbage and litter in containers provided for this purpose or carry it out with you.
Please do not wash dishes or clothes in natural water sources. Do all necessary washing away from and below all sources of drinking water. Use water faucets only for drawing water. Dispose of water waste away from streams and springs. Persons who must use streams as a water source should boil the water for 3 to 5 minutes before drinking or using it in food preparation.
Beware of GiardiaAfter someone has ingested contaminated water, the incubation period of the disease is 6 to 15 days. Common symptoms include nausea, abdominal cramps, flatulence, lethargy, diarrhea, and weight loss. Giardia can be readily transmitted between humans and animals. Learn more about this parasite, Giardia from the CDC.
Waste Use Toilets Properly
Do not throw garbage, litter, fish cleanings, or other foreign substances in toilets and plumbing fixtures. To prevent contaminating water sources, dispose of soapy water and human waste at least 200 feet from water, camp, and trails. For short stays, bury human waste and toilet paper in a small 6-8" hole. For longer stays and larger parties, use a latrine and cover it completely.
Pack out used toilet paper and feminine products. Animals will dig up those products and scatter them around the area. Several types of waste-disposal products are on the market that come with enzymes that immediately begin breaking down solid waste. A leak-proof portable toilet or other self-contained receptacle is another option.
What is dispersed camping? The Caibou-Targhee National Forest asks you to observe these dispersed camping guidelines, which will assist in keeping the forest beautiful for all users. Find out what are some of the common watch-outs and rules to have a safe and enjoyable visit.
The Caribou-Targhee National Forest is home to both grizzy and black bears. Please educate yourself about bears and what precautions are necessary when recreating in bear country.
Whether you're roughing it in a tent or planning a family outing to a national forest, there are many ways to make sure your experience is fun and safe. Consider the following safety tips when you visit a national forest or national grassland.