Why Leave No Trace?

As long as I’ll live, I’ll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing.

I’ll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm, and the avalanche.

I’ll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens, and get as near the heart of the world as I can.

—John Muir

Today, use of designated wilderness areas has increased from 4 million people in 1964, to 7 million people in 1974, to 15 million in 1984, 21 million in 1994, and nearly 30 million expected users in 2000. That’s a 750 percent increase in 30 years! As cities grow and populations encroach upon wildlands and recreation areas, we must do more than just pick up the litter and extinguish campfires. We must learn how to maintain the integrity and character of the outdoors for all living things. Leave No Trace is not simply a program for visiting the backcountry, it is an attitude and a way of life. Learning about Leave No Trace begins with your unit.

The knowledge and concepts enabling visitors to leave no trace are easily taught both before and during outings. This handbook is devoted to helping you teach others the value of natural areas and the methods we can use to help protect and conserve these areas for future generations.