Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics patch

The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and inspiring responsible outdoor recreation through education, research and partnerships. Leave No Trace builds awareness, appreciation and respect for our wildlands.

The Leave No Trace Principles of Outdoor Ethics for Heritage Sites follow the same principles as for other sites:

1) Plan Ahead and Prepare

  • Know the rules and regulations for the area you'll visit.
  • Check to be sure the site is open and find out if you'll need a permit.
  • Plan to keep pets and pack animals restrained and away from sites.
  • Visit in small groups. Assure supervision of youth groups.

2) Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

  • Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel and dry grasses.
  • Stay on designated roads and trails; soil disturbance can cause significant and irreversible impacts to heritage sites.
  • Climbing, sitting or walking on walls and other constructed features weaken them. Walls that are stressed may suddenly collapse.
  • Avoid walking on artifacts and middens. Middens are trash dumps that are usually soft, dark soil areas near heritage sites.
  • Where allowed, camp at least 200 yards from heritage sites.

3) Dispose of Waste Properly

  • Pack it in, pack it out. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
  • Never dig catholes for human waste disposal near heritage sites. Walk at least 200 yards from these sites.

4) Leave What You Find

  • Artifacts and fossils left where they are help tell the story of the past. Rearranging them limits their scientific value and the experience of future visitors.
  • It is illegal to dig, remove or collect artifacts and vertebrate fossils without a permit.
  • Leave historic and prehistoric structures intact.
  • Take photographs or make a drawing of the rock art or gravestones you visit. Touching, chalking and making rubbings and latex molds cause damage.

5) Minimize Campfire Impacts

  • Campfires cause lasting impacts. Use a light-weight stove for cooking.
  • Where fires are permitted, use existing fire rings, a fire pan or build a mound fire.
  • Collect only dead and downed wood that is clearly not from heritage sites. Collect wood and build fires at least 200 yards away from sites.

6) Respect Wildlife

  • Never feed animals. It changes their natural behaviors and food left behind may alter the heritage site.
  • Control pets at all times.

7) Be Considerate of Other Visitors

  • Respect the past. Heritage sites hold clues to what life was like long ago.
  • Educate others never to dig at sites or collect artifacts.
  • Graffiti is vandalism. It damages rock art, ruins, cliff walls, trees and historic structures. Attempting to remove graffiti can cause further damage.
  • Many Native Americans consider their ancestral land sacred.

The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics has partnerships with the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Together, the Center and these federal land management agencies work to educate all who visit and enjoy public lands about Leave No Trace in order to minimize recreational impacts.

If you see people vandalizing sites, report it as soon as possible by contacting the local law enforcement agency or land management office. Never confront or approach vandals or do anything to endanger your safety. From a distance, observe and report their physical description, activities, license plate numbers, time and location.

For more information on Leave No Trace, please visit their website at www.lnt.org.

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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1515 SE Monroe Street
Topeka, KS 66612-1143


(785) 354-4273

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