Laws & Safety | November 2018

How To Leave No Trace

Few things are more saddening than the sight of a once pristine natural landscape tarnished with litter and man-made wear and tear. It’s a tragic fact that often times the preservation of the beauty of nature falls to the wayside during our travels. Luckily, this can be prevented by the practice of “Leave No Trace.” While this is often easier said than done, Luno has a few guiding principles for everyone to follow while car camping to ensure that we can keep nature wild:

  • Preparation is the key to success

  • Keep wildlife in the wild

  • The 3 S’s when playing with fire: Small, Sustainable, S’mores

  • Pay it forward

Be ready and stay ready     

Failure to prepare is preparation for failure. The best way to ensure that your mark on the outdoors is no mark at all is to have a complete plan on how you will leave no trace. Having a game plan for exactly how you will take out everything that you brought with you is crucial when venturing into the great outdoors. There are times when it’s okay to wing it, like when you embark on a last-minute weekend trip and plan as you go. This is not one of those times. For every item you pack for a trip, you should have a plan for how you will take it with you when you leave.

Reviewing the rules and regulations of the site you’re visiting is another excellent way to prepare for a trip. Even though rules can be a drag, keep in mind that they’re there for a reason. No matter how badly you want to build a fortress in the trees or try your hand at sap extraction, know that it’s for the greater good that you don’t. Allow plenty of time for cleanup. Make sure you inspect your space for any devious wrappers or food scraps that may have snuck their way out of the trash when you weren’t looking. 

Take only pictures, leave only footprints

Out of respect and consideration for wildlife and travelers to come, it’s vital that the outdoors stay outside. It can be very tempting to take a pinecone or two to place on your coffee table at home as a sentimental reminder of the memories you made on the trip. We urge you to resist this temptation. Taking wildlife out of nature, plants included, disturbs the fragile balance of the natural ecosystems that we so enjoy visiting. 

Playing with fire   

We love a crackling campfire (almost as much as we love the s’mores we make over said fire). Unfortunately, campfires are indeed a source of air pollution; they release a cocktail of unfavorable chemical compounds into the air as they burn. Nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter are a few of the less-than-stellar pollutants that come with burning firewood. The good news is that there are ways to minimize this environmental impact!

Option 1: When looking for fuel for a campfire, do NOT take the wood off a tree to throw in the fire pit. Since trees absorb man-made air pollutants, burning wood from trees releases concentrated toxins into the air. Instead, look for small bits of dry, brittle wood. Dry wood and thin sticks burn a hotter fire which allows unwanted gases to burn more effectively and release fewer pollutants. We also recommend that you use local wood rather than wood transported from elsewhere when burning a fire. Foreign fuel can introduce new species to the ecosystem and presents a potential problem for the food chain.

Option 2: Another way you can reduce your carbon footprint is by keeping fires small and contained. Quell the burning desires (pun intended) of your inner pyromaniac and keep the fire to a minimum. We enjoy a roaring fire as much as the next fifth grader, but there is little practical reason why anyone would need a twelve-foot tall fire to roast a single hot dog. Also, be sure to only use established fire pits when you’re roasting that hot dog. Unrestrained fire sites increase chances of a fire getting away from you and causing serious damage and in the words of our fearless leader, Smokey the Bear, “Only YOU can stop forest fires.”

No time for trailblazin'

It’s enticing to seek seclusion by camping where no one else has ever camped before. However, the thrill of uncharted territory comes at a cost. The secret spot that you use for your tranquil escape is not actually a secret spot at all. There are probably dozens of species that already inhabited the area before you and unless they invited you into their home, your presence is likely an unwanted intrusion.

The same goes for the use of hiking trails. This is not the time to venture off the beaten path. In fact, it’s just the opposite! When using a pre-existing nature path, walk single file in the middle of trails to preserve them for the many hikers to come. While you’re marching one by one, you can think of the many people before you who have acted responsibly to allow for your enjoyment of the surroundings. Then pay it forward for the generations of future travelers that are to come and stick to the plan, man.

While this may seem pretty self-explanatory, leaving no trace is crucial in the effort to preserve the outdoors. The good news is that with the right preparation and respect for the environment we can keep nature wild for all to enjoy in the years to come!


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