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Protect our country’s natural heritage while exploring all it has to offer by following these low-impact travel principles

This summer, whether you’re exploring one of the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s (NCC’s) Nature Destinations, discovering one of our country’s national or provincial parks or strolling through a local park, keep in mind the following principles outlined by Leave No Trace Canada. NCC has partnered with Leave No Trace Canada to promote and endorse the organization’s low-impact travel principles. Please note that camping and campfires are not permitted on any NCC property.

Plan ahead and prepare

  • Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you’re visiting.
  • Prepare for extreme weather, hazards and emergencies.
  • Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
  • Visit in small groups. Split larger parties into groups of four to six.
  • Repackage food to minimize waste.
  • Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.

Travel and camp on durable surfaces

  • Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
  • Protect riverbank areas by camping at least 70 metres 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:
    • Minimize the area used to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
    • Avoid using places that are becoming disturbed.

Dispose of waste properly

  • 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 holes dug 15 to 20 centimetres deep and at least 70 metres from water, camp and trails. Fill and cover the hole when finished.
  • Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
  • To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 70 metres away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
  • Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.

Leave what you find

  • Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch, cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
  • Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you found them.
  • Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species by cleaning your boots and gear after each hike.
  • Do not build structures, furniture or trenches.

Minimize campfire impacts

  • 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.

Respect wildlife

  • Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
  • Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviours 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.

Be considerate of others

  • Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
  • Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
  • Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
  • Let nature’s sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
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