Leave No Trace

LNT 15 - Wrap up!

Hello All -

I first started to use "LNT 15- Wrap up!" as a summary of the issues raised in the previous 14 LNT postings. With just a little reflection (and an elbow jab from Charlie I <g>), I realized that my LNT postings are really just summaries themselves...and a summary of a summary is starting to get a tad too removed from reality for my taste <VBG>.

"Leave No Trace" is the name of a "formal" program which has the goal of educating and promoting minimum-impact skills and ethics across the country (and world!). LNT is a BROAD and coordinated effort by the major (and many other!) land managing agencies to bring the best research-driven thinking in this area to ALL backcountry users. To my knowledge, this is the FIRST such effort at the federal level (I heard that it took the lawyers for Interior and Agriculture over a year to agree on the Memorandum of Understanding <g>).

The good NOLS folks are madly cranking out curriculum materials and "Skills & Ethics" booklets that tailor the LNT message to the widely different ecosystems in our many different backcountry use areas. LNT Master Educator courses are being held all over the country and hundreds of managing agency personnel (and more than a few volunteers!) are being trained-up (and fired-up!) to go out and help spread the word. The "LNT, Inc." (non-profit) foundation has been set up to "promote and inspire responsible outdoor recreation through education, research, and partnership." LNT, Inc. has been set up to be the logical "first contact" for all things LNT.

Lotsa folks working hard to get the message out! A common thread is the belief that the "magic" threshhold CAN be reached which would allow a true "culture change" to occur among the legions of us backcountry users...before too many more beautiful areas are closed off and too many more rules/limits are dumped on us. One of the really neat things about LNT is that there is a place in the discussion for ALL backcountry users... no matter how we want to use the backcountry and no matter how well our personal "wilderness ethic" is (or isn't) developed. It's a little like taking Bubba's BIG bib-overalls off the line...there is plenty of room inside for everybody...come on in! <VBG>

One little thing that we gotta remember, though...LNT is only one piece in the whole puzzle! A logical approach to solving the overall problem of impacts to our beautiful wildlands might look something like:

stop/minimize the damage being caused by the many backcountry visitors,

fix the damage that has already been done by these visits, and

start working on solving the other sources of damage (acid rain, etc.).

LNT is designed to help with the first step. In Scouting, we have the "T.R.A.I.L. Boss" program (among others) to help with the second step. The third step is up to us individually as good citizens!

The neat thing about LNT is that, since WE cause the impacts, WE can STOP causing the impacts! We can get started tomorrow...no need to mess with pestering politicians, raising funds, passing out petitions, or manning the barricades <VBG>.

My LNT series is just one small look at the LNT philosophy - done from the viewpoint of a thru-hiker who also works a lot with youth groups. I took the trouble to do the postings because the LNT message IS complex and, too often, not having a chance to discuss the complex issues just winds up with folks believing that the simple little list of "Six (7, 8 or 12 <g>) LNT Principles" is the whole shebang. There are MUCH better treatments of both the ethics and the techniques involved...my hope is that all of you will get the chance to read them someday (tomorrow!). See the "Bibliography" below.

Here are a few of the many books related to LNT that I like (at least the ones that I brought to Colorado with me...or found in the good local library):

First choice...bar none!

"Soft Paths" by Bruce Hampton and David Cole (Stackpole Books, rev.1995). Bruce is a long-time instructor with NOLS and David is a well-known USFS research biologist. Nicely written...these guys have been there, they care, and they are writing to share their hard-won knowledge instead of beating folks up. This is a "must read"!

The following books are in no particular order (other than the way that they were stacked on my table <g>:

"An Introduction to Wildland Ethics & Management" by Susan Brame and Chad Henderson (NOLS, 1992). Very interesting intro to backcountry ethics/management issues here and at NOLS locations around the world (has an EXCELLENT Bibliography!). Definitely a worthwhile read if you want to dig in a little deeper than "Soft Paths" or the "Skills & Ethics" booklets.

"A Sand County Almanac" by Aldo Leopold (Ballantine Books, 1970). A good man takes us by the hand and helps us grow up. The writings date from the late '40's and early '50's...but the thinking is currently alive in everything published about LNT! An excellent background read.

"How to S*it in the Woods" by Kathleen Meyer (Ten Speed Press, 1989). I actually have the expurgated version: "How to S___ in the Woods" <VBG>. A lighthearted (but VERY informative) treatment of a subject too-often glossed over or simply forgotten. Well worth reading!

"Minimum Impact Camping - A Basic Guide" by Curt Schatz and Dan Seemon (Adventure Publications, Inc., 1994). A general "how to" book (canoe camping and backpacking) that has a LOT of worthwhile minimum-impact philosophy tossed in. Done in parallel to the early LNT efforts...a good example of some of the excellent books that cover the subject with a slightly different slant from the LNT pubs.

"Backwoods Ethics" by Laura and Guy Waterman (The Countryman Press, 1993). An "environmental issues for hikers and campers" reader for all of us. The Waterman's have an honest "deep northwoods" pedigree...and they write with a very comfortable and informative style (they write for Backpacker, among others). There is even an AT chapter: "The 2,000-Mile Community-on-the-Move". Another of those excellent books that were developed before (and in parallel to) the formal LNT program.

"Eating Hearty in the Wilderness With Absolutely No Cleanup" by Bern Kreissman (Bear Klaw Press, 1994). An excellent example of the specialized "how-to" books that are starting to appear. Interesting approach to trail cuisine that is both very practical (for a change!) and up-to-date. Nice look at how the author lives his minimum-impact beliefs. Definitely a good read...even if you only plan to do Liptons and Mac'n'Cheese <g>.

LNT outdoor "Skills & Ethics" series of booklets:

Rocky Mountains

Southeastern States

Backcountry Horse Use

Western River Corridors

Temperate Costal Zones

Desert & Canyon Country

Pacific Northwest

Rock Climbing

Alaskan Tundra

Northeast Mountains

North American

Sierra Nevada

These booklets are excellent (fairly brief, 15-25 pages each) treatments of how the LNT Principles can be tailored to the various ecosystems and backcountry uses we all enjoy. I would consider the appropriate booklet (for the area being visited) to be the MINIMUM info needed for an ethical backcountry user!

Call "LNT, Inc." at (800)332-4100 for LNT info and materials. The "LNT, Inc." web site url is: http://www.lnt.org

- Charlie II  AT (MEGA'93)
             PCT (Mex@Can'95)
         Chipping away at the CDT



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