Leave No Trace in Austin's Natural Spaces

Mar 29, 2017 - 8:14 am

Protect the places you love. Leave no trace. austintexas.gov/leavenotrace

The Austin Parks and Recreation DepartmentAustin Resource Recovery, and Watershed Protection have partnered to raise awareness about Leave No Trace in Austin. As Austin's population continues to soar, each of us can help ensure that our city's parks, trails, and open spaces are protected and enjoyed for generations to come by practicing Leave No Trace.

Leave No Trace is a member-driven organization that teaches people to protect the outdoors by recreating responsibly. In fact, Leave No Trace is "the most widely accepted outdoor ethics program used on public lands."

Austin attracts thousands of people to its parks, trails, and open spaces every day, and it is absolutely critical that each of us aim to minimize our impact when we head outdoors. The Leave No Trace Seven Principles are an easy set of guidelines to follow, whether we're hiking in the green belt with friends or going for a walk along the Violet Crown Trail.


The Leave No Trace Seven Principles

Here's how you can follow the Leave No Trace Seven Principles (via lnt.org). 

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare

  • Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
  • Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
  • Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
  • Repackage food to minimize waste.
  • Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
  • Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.

2. Travel on Durable Surfaces

  • Durable surfaces include established trails, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
  • In popular areas:
  • Concentrate use on existing trails.
  • Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.

3. Dispose of Waste Properly

  • Pack it in, pack it out. Pack out all trash, pet waste, and leftover food.
  • Bring bags for pet waste, Scoop the Poop, and dispose of bags in designated areas.
  • Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
  • Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.

4. Leave What You Find

  • Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
  • Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
  • Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
  • Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.

5. Be Careful With Fire

  • Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a lantern for light.

6. Respect Wildlife

  • Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
  • Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
  • Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
  • Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
  • Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.

7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

  • Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
  • Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
  • Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.