Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Leave No Trace camping

Some areas of the country are warm enough for camping, and with Memorial Weekend coming up, a lot of you might head out regardless of the weather. I really want to stress how important it is to preserve our great outdoor areas, and thought I'd pass along a few tips for Leave No Trace practices over the next few days.

First, please respect the wildlife.
  • Keep your distance. Going close for a "better look" will only serve to scare the animal, which will then be forced to flee, or in some cases, defend itself. Also, try to keep your group size small; if you are traveling in a large group, divide up.
  • Quick movements and loud noises are stressful to animals. Travel quietly! (One exception is in bear country where it is good to make a little noise so as not to startle the bears)
  • Do not touch, get close to, feed or pick up wild animals for any reason. It is stressful to the animal, and it is possible that the animal may harbor rabies or other diseases. Sick or wounded animals can bite, peck or scratch and send you to the hospital. Young animals removed or touched by well-meaning people may cause the animals parents to abandon them. If you find sick animals or animal in trouble, notify a game warden.
  • Store food securely, and keep garbage and food scraps away from animals. Remember that you are a visitor to their home.
  • Allow animals free access to water sources by giving them the buffer space they need to feel secure. Ideally, camps should be located 200 feet or more from existing water sources. This will minimize disturbance to wildlife and ensure that animals have access to their precious drinking water.
  • Washing and human waste disposal must be done carefully so the environment is not polluted, and animals and aquatic life are not injured. (More on disposing of waste tomorrow) Swimming in lakes or streams is okay in most instances but in desert areas, leave scarce water holes undisturbed and unpolluted so animals may drink from them.

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