Minimizing Impact and Random Acts of Kindness for the Environment


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What are the characteristics of someone competent in the outdoors?  One very telling trait is a sincere concern about minimizing impact on the environment and the skills to match that concern.  As more and more people flock to the outdoors, the need to have such skills become ever more important.  No matter what we do--whether it's mountain biking, car camping, climbing, horse packing or boating--we must do it in a way which does the least damage to the environment.  The following is a brief summary of procedures and techniques to keep in mind.


Thanks to Dana Elle, JoLynn Howell, and Peter Joyce for their contributions to the following.


Group Size.  The size of the group with you depends on where you are going:

Pack It In.  Pack It Out.  We've all heard the mantra and seen the signs at trailheads, but do we really know what it means.  Here's a list of some items that people commonly forget about:

Aluminum Foil.  Far too many people throw aluminum foil into fires thinking that it will burn.  It does, but only partially.  There's always small bits and pieces of it left which blow in the wind and are scattered around the camp.  If you pack in aluminum foil, pack it out.  Remember that many soup and cocoa packages contain aluminum.  They also should be carried out.

Minimal Impact: Aluminum Foil Never Burns Completely - Pack it out





Minimal Impact: Avoid cutting switchbacksTrails and Cross-country Travel




Human Waste

Mountain Biking

Climbing Considerations.  Here are a few special things that you should take in consideration when climbing:


Rock Climbing

Pack Animal Considerations.  If you use pack animals, there's much that can be done to minimize impact.  Here's a few suggestions:

General Information

More information on Minimal Impact

How to Shit in the Woods by Kathleen Meyer, Ten Speed Press, 1989.

Leave No Trace.  Information and materials.  PO Box 997, Boulder, CO  80305.  Phone number:  800-332-4100.

Soft Paths by Bruce Hampton and David Cole, Stackpole Books, 1988.

The Basic Essentials Of Minimizing Impact on the Wilderness by Michael Hodgson, ICS Books, 1991.

Treadling Lightly with Pack Animals:  A Guide to Low-impact Travel in the Backcountry by Dan Aadland, Mountain Press, 1993

Soft Paths.  (Video, 31 minutes) By the National Outdoor Leadership School (288 Main Street, Lander, WY 82520-3128).



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