Leave No Trace:  Principle 4 - Leave What You Find

Leave No Trace: Principle 4 - Leave What You Find

Author: Tina Eckerlin

We are building momentum as we hit week 4 of 7 in our focused blog series on the 7 Leave No Trace Principles (LNT). It is a great start to 2023!

If you are just catching up, we wanted to start the New Year off right and improve our LNT practices. There is always room for improvement and better habits. Check out our last blog post, Principle 3 - Dispose of Waste Properly.

We are passionate about LNT, and want to make sure the backcountry is kept wild for everyone. We are proud partners with Leave No Trace Canada. In our partnership, we have promised to help promote, educate and advocate for good land stewardship and LNT practices!

We have found that it is not just new explorers that don't know about LNT, but seasoned hikers and campers that have forgotten, follow older methods or who just think that they know better. 

No matter how many years you have spent adventuring, we can all do better and learn something new!

Leave No Trace Principle 4

Leave What You Find

Most of of know that we are not supposed to take anything from park areas. But, there is more to it than that.

Two years ago I was on a weekend backpacking trip with a friend. It was mid Spring and we were being eaten alive by mosquitoes. Suddenly I shouted out in excitement. I spotted a small patch of Pink Lady Slipper orchids!

I told my friend that I had been trying to find one flowering for years, and how I would love to try growing one at home. She suggested that I dig one out or try to find some seeds. Despite the fact that I really wanted one, I did not disturb them.

Besides that fact that they don't transplant or propagate from seed well, they are slow growing and only grow in specific conditions and habitats.

I chose to allow nature to work its magic, and leave them for the next visitor to enjoy. Although I snapped more photos than I can count!

Preserve Heritage and Historical Sites

  • Avoid moving or destroying traditional, historical and cultural elements and sites
  • Many park areas are used with the permission of Indigenous communities.  There are significant areas that are sacred sites. Tread lightly - with respect
  • If you come across a traditional site and find artifacts, leave them where you found them, and report what and where you found them to park staff or land managers

Leave Natural Objects in Their Original Place 

Unfortunately, too many people take souvenirs from trips, such as: flowers and rocks. Think about what would happen if everyone took a souvenir from the same area? It could be devastating!

  • Do not take mementos, such as: rocks, flowers, leaves, antlers, fossils, shells...
  • Do not forage on park or land. Leave edible plants and fungi where they are. Foraging is acceptable on private property or public land. Just be sure to not over pick, have permission and follow local harvesting regulations
  • Do not move items at campsites. Fire pits have been constructed to minimize human impact, and should be left where the park has designated them
  • Avoid tying tent guy-lines to trees

Avoid Digging And Building 

Many of us enjoy bush crafting. Be sure to avoid this on park or conservation land. 

  • Avoid building structures or furniture
  • Do not create seating or put nails in trees
  • Do not move or disturb seating or picnic areas created by the park
  • Do not dig trenches 
  • If bush crafting on public land, make sure to only used fallen dead wood, and to put the area back to its natural state before leaving

Invasive Species

  • Prevent the spread of exotic invasive species by removing mud and debris from shoes, clothing and equipment
    • clean off tent stakes and trowels to remove soil and prevent the spread of pathogens and seeds from invasive species
    • Knock excess dirt off shoes
    • Clean water vehicles, such as: kayaks, canoes, aluminum boats, as well as paddles...

Our best advice, is to consider how your actions will impact the natural world and enduring beauty that is the backcountry!


Follow us on Instagram for Leave No Trace Thursday's for weekly tips and tricks!

7 Principles of Leave No Trace

Let us know in the comments below!


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