Leave No Trace at Virginia State Parks

How long does it take to return your home to order after a party–a couple hours, a whole day? Wouldn’t it be nice if all your guests helped clean up and return things to their proper place before they leave? Life runs more smoothly when dishes, decorations, and furniture are restored to their normal places. So it is in the great outdoors. When venturing out into nature, it is important to remember that we are just visitors. It is so important that organizations like Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics exist to encourage and “equip recreationalists with information that helps minimize their impacts to the natural world.” The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) supports their mission and their 7 guiding principles and practices. These principles are based on the latest insights from biologists, land managers, and other leaders in outdoor education. A summary is below but click here to read the full explanation of each principle.

  • Plan ahead and prepare.
    Knowing local regulations and directions and preparing based on weather predictions help make the trip more enjoyable and less damaging.
  • Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
    The goal of travel outdoors is to move through natural areas while avoiding damage to the land, foliage, or waterways. Keeping campsites small and using existing sites and trails prevents unnecessary alterations to the environment.
  • Dispose of waste properly.
    Think about the waste you will produce on your trip and how to properly dispose of it.
  • Leave what you find.
    The items you find in nature have a role to play. Observing without disturbing is best.
  • Minimize campfire impacts.
    Campfires are fun but cause lasting impact. Using established fire rings, pans, or mounds will help preserve the surrounding tranquility.
  • Respect wildlife.
    You are visiting their home. Avoiding feeding them and interacting with them to reduce the negative impact on human-wildlife interactions.
  • Be considerate of other visitors.
    Respecting others and embracing the peace and quiet of nature will elevate your experience and that of others too.
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