Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace is a national program which promotes the protection of our nation's parks and wildlands through education, research, and partnerships. Leave No Trace builds awareness, appreciation, and respect for America's public lands by teaching minimum impact skills and wildland ethics.

Leave No Trace is simple. At its heart it is a set of seven principles which can be applied in any natural setting to minimize human impacts on the environment. Listed below are the seven principles of Leave No Trace with ways to apply these principles in San Juan Island National Historical Park. Whether you are hiking the prairie or Young Hill, playing on South Beach, exploring the historic parade grounds or enjoying the coolness of Mitchell Hill's cedar forest, following Leave No Trace principles will help protect the park and preserve the park experience for you and for future visitors.

The Seven Principles of Leave No Trace:

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare

To stay safe, reduce stress and make the most of your visit:

  • Know the rules, regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit
  • Prepare for extreme weather, tides, currents, hazards, emergencies
  • Check weather reports
  • Schedule your trip to avoid times of high visitor use
  • Read books and maps, check online and talk to people before you go

2. Stick to trails

To protect fragile areas such as rocky outcrops with lichens, moss and plants; shoreline and tide pool areas, and native prairies; and respect private property:

  • Walk and ride in the middle of designated trails
  • Do not create new trails or trample undeveloped areas

3. Trash your trash and pick up poop

Human waste and garbage can be harmful to plants and animals, visitors, and the marine environment. To protect wildlife, human health and keep water clean:

  • Pack it in, Pack it out. Put litter–even crumbs, peels and cores–in bags and dispose of in garbage cans
  • Plan ahead and use toilets
  • Use a bag to pack out your pet’s poop to a garbage can
  • Do not put soap, food, human or pet waste in the Salish Sea, lakes or streams

4. Leave it as you find it

To allow others to enjoy the natural beauty of the San Juan Islands and keep visitors safe:

  • Leave plants, rocks and historical items as you find them so others can enjoy them
  • Treat living plants with respect. Carving, hacking or peeling trees or plants may kill them
  • Avoid introducing or transporting non-native plants and animals

5. Be careful with fire

To keep your fire from harming plants, animals or other visitors:

  • Use a camp stove for cooking. Stoves are easier to cook on and create less impact than a fire
  • Use only existing fire rings and keep your fire small
  • Burn all wood to ash and be sure the fire is completely out and cold before you leave
  • Pack out all trash and food. A fire is not a garbage can
  • Purchase firewood from a local vendor or gather on site if allowed
  • Bringing firewood from home can harbor tree killing insects and diseases

6. Keep wildlife wild

Stressing or feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers. To keep wildlife healthy:

  • Observe wildlife from a distance and never approach, feed, or follow them
  • Learn and follow the ‘Be Whale Wise’ guidelines for boating around marine mammals
  • Protect wildlife and your food by securely storing your meals and trash.
  • Control pets at all times, or leave them at home
  • Know and follow leash rules and pet prohibitions for the area you are visiting
  • Give wildlife extra space during sensitive times (e.g., mating, nesting, raising young, or winter)
7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

To increase the enjoyment of the outdoors for all visitors:

  • Keep your pet under control to protect it, other visitors, and wildlife
  • Yield to other users on the trail
  • Leave generous space between you and other visitors
  • Avoid making loud noises or yelling
  • You will also see more wildlife if you are quiet
finlayson_ south beach
Mount Finlayson and its glacial terraces descending to the Salmon Bank on the Strait of Juan de Fuca is a majestic site from the wide open expanse of South Beach at low tide. Enjoy your visit here and leave only footsteps in the sand.

Mike Vouri

Last updated: April 3, 2017

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P.O. Box 429
Friday Harbor, WA 98250


(360) 378-2240

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