7 Leave No Trace Principles and How To Preserve Public Lands

With iconic mountain ranges, buffalo-filled valleys and vast canyons, it’s no wonder the national parks are the crown jewels of America. This network of natural gems, including the Grand Canyon and Great Smoky Mountains, attracts park-goers seeking inspiration and connection to nature. Covering millions of acres, public lands preserve our past and ensure our future. We count on nature to purify the air we breathe and the water we drink, provide a habitat for wildlife and protect our climate. There is even a national public holiday dedicated to preserving them—National Public Lands Day. It’s important that we are preserving and protecting these landscapes for use by future generations and animals and vegetation that call these areas home. The 7 Principles of Leave No Trace provide easy to understand outdoor ethics guidelines that can be applied anywhere—national parks, scenic rivers and lakes, national monuments, wildernesses and even in your own backyard. Be a good steward of the land during your stay at Under Canvas and your visit to the nearby National Parks, monuments and public lands by following these 7 Leave No Trace Principles.

Plan Ahead and Prepare

Thinking about what to see, do and what pictures to take will have you day-dreaming about your next adventure. But if you’re underprepared, you’re likely to run into problems. Before you go, it’s important to research your destination, identify the activities you’d like to do and pack appropriately. By doing this, you can minimize waste, reduce risk, feel more confident and enjoy a deep connection with nature. Utilize Under Canvas’ Guest Experience Coordinators to help you plan and prepare for your outdoor adventures during your stay.

How you can plan ahead:

  • Get familiar with the regulations in the area you are visiting
  • Prepare for weather and other emergencies
  • Consider visiting during the shoulder seasons when crowds are fewer
  • Pack reusable food containers and a water bottle
  • Know the abilities of the people you’re with

Travel on Durable Surfaces

A minimal footprint is what we’re all about. Becoming aware of your impact on the land around you is an important step. Making use of already established trails rather than blazing your own is one of the most impactful ways to preserve natural areas.

How you can lower your impact:

  • Try to walk single file on the trails
  • Keep groups small
  • Avoid forming new trails
  • Opt to travel on dry grasses or snow and ice rather than on vegetation

Dispose of Waste Properly

Pack it in, pack it out is a common principle within the parks. In other words, what you bring with you on your adventure should leave with you. This means tucking away trash in a bag or backpack until you can properly dispose of it outside of the natural area. If you spot litter, do your best to pick it up since it is harmful to animals, plants and water sources that make public lands so special.

If there are no restrooms and you get the urge to ‘go’ try to find a spot at least 200 steps from any water sources, dig a cat-hole at least 6-inches deep and then bury it when you’re finished. Remember to pack out used toilet paper. It’s important to follow these steps to avoid contaminating the water that many drink from and recreate in.

How to dispose of waste:

  • Use proper waste, recycling or compost bins
  • Carry a bag to secure your trash until you can properly dispose of it
  • Know where to find a restroom or dispose of human waste responsibly
  • Leave a place better than you found it

Leave What You Find

Exploring outside means you never know what you may discover. To preserve nature, it’s important to leave rocks, plants and flowers, archaeological artifacts and other objects where you found them. Picking flowers, carving initials into tree bark or taking home a piece of ancient pottery that you found may not seem like it would cause a problem, but if many visitors do this it would significantly impact life in the area not to mention the experience for others. In fact, in national parks and other protected areas, these acts are illegal. Remember to “take only photos, leave only footprints”, although leaving no trace means less footprints are better.

How you can help preserve nature:

  • Look but don’t touch historic structures, artifacts or markings
  • Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects where you found them
  • Clean your shoes, bike tires and kayaks in between trips to avoid introducing non-native species
  • Take photos to capture moments

Be Careful With Fire

Roasting marshmallows beneath a starry night sky is how many people like to finish off a day of adventure. Our Under Canvas locations are equipped with community fire pits where you can kick back with family and friends and do just that without the hassle of starting it and without the responsibility of managing it. However, if you are in the wild and need to build a fire, you should always exercise caution as it can easily spread causing wildfires. The best place to build a fire is within an existing fire ring or pit. Fires should be kept small and under control to avoid causing accidents or injuries to those nearby.

How to minimize campfire impacts:

  • Buy it where you burn it, don’t bring firewood from home
  • Don’t harvest wood from standing trees which are home to birds and insects
  • Keep the fire small and burn only when you’re around it
  • Dirt may not completely extinguish a fire, so remember to use water
  • Allow wood to completely burn to ash

Respect Wildlife

A good rule of thumb to ensure that you’re leaving enough space for wildlife you encounter is to give a ‘thumbs up’ with your arm fully extended in front of you. Then close one eye and try to completely cover the animal with your thumb. If you can still see it, you are too close. This is a great Leave No Trace Principle for kids to learn how to safely enjoy wildlife. And for adults, too!

How you can respect wildlife:

  • Observe from a distance for your safety and theirs
  • Never feed wildlife as this can harm them
  • Store and dispose of food and waste properly
  • Keep dogs leashed and under control

Consider Other Visitors

Many people venture to the great outdoors to connect with nature. This experience is less enjoyable when there is excessive noise, uncontrolled pets or damage to the surrounding areas. When you’re out there, do your best to be respectful of the people and place around you. We try to follow these respects at our Under Canvas locations as well.

How to be considerate of others:

  • Keep noise to a minimum not to disturb others or scare wildlife
  • On narrow trails, hikers headed downhill should step aside for uphill travelers to pass
  • Both hikers and bikers should yield to equestrians on the trail
  • Leave loud speakers at home
  • Keep dogs leashed and remember to clean up after your pet

At Under Canvas, it’s our mission to preserve and connect our community with the great outdoors by treading lightly on the landscape surrounding our locations and the life that it supports, our own included. By staying at our glamping resorts, you are a part of our efforts to be environmental stewards for our planet. Everything from the design of our safari-style tent camps, which we take down each season, to our intentional inconveniences, like the elimination of single-use plastics and pull-chain showers, we look to keep nature as it was intended. When you stay at Under Canvas, you can rest assured that you’re making a reduced impact on the environment while still enjoying an upscale experience.

Plan Your Stay

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