Over 60% of Idaho is public lands-including vast forests, miles of sagebrush grasslands, numberless lakes, hot springs, mountains, and rivers. They are ours to enjoy and we want them to be enjoyed by future generations as well, so it is up to all of us to care for these natural resources. We can all enjoy the recreational activities of our choosing, but do it responsibly and sustainably.
Learning how to recreate responsibly is the first step. ICL is honored to partner with Leave No Trace (LNT), the most widely accepted outdoor ethics program used on public lands. LNT teaches a set of outdoor ethics to follow that promote conservation.
The Leave No Trace Seven Principles
The Leave No Trace Seven Principles provide guidance to enjoy our natural world in a sustainable way that minimizes human-created impacts. The principles have been adapted so they can be applied in your backyard or your backcountry.
Note: click any of the headers below for a much deeper explanation on each principle.
- Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you’ll visit.
- Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
- Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
- Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
- Repackage food to minimize waste.
- Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.
- Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
- Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
- Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
- In popular areas:
- Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
- Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
- Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
- In pristine areas:
- Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
- Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.
- In popular areas:
- Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
- Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
- Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
- To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
- Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
- Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
- Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
- Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
- Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
- Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
- Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
- Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
- Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
- Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
- Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
- Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
- Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young or winter.
- Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
- Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
- Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
- Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
- Let nature’s sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
Idaho’s public lands support a wide variety of activities, from recreational pursuits such as camping, hunting, fishing and hiking to natural resource development. They also provide clean air, clean water and picturesque scenery-resources enjoyed by all Idahoans and the visitors who flock to Idaho from around the world. Idaho’s public lands also provide extensive habitat for wildlife of all types: moose, elk, deer, bear, mountain lions, coyotes, raptors, and countless small birds and mammals. If we all work together and educate ourselves on sustainable recreation we can help keep Idaho the spectacular place that it is.