Most of us have all heard the term Leave No Trace when camping or renting out some space from someone. Do you know where it comes from and that there are actually seven principles to leaving no trace behind?
Everyone plays a vital role in protecting our environment and keeping our waters clean. As you spend time outdoors, in nature, and on the lake, it’s important to be conscious of the effects your actions may have on plants, animals, other people, and our lake ecosystems. By Following the Leave No Trace Seven Principles, summarized below, you can help us minimize those impacts. They can be applied anywhere, at any time, while taking part in our recreational activities and services.
Leave No Trace Seven Principles
Principle 1: Plan Ahead and Prepare
- Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you’ll visit, an example of this is do not bring any glass with you on our boating services. It is against the law, and our rules. Read Wisconsin’s Boating Laws here.
- Prepare for any extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies. This is especially important when camping on the sandbars on the Wisconsin River.
- Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use. We can not stress this enough, go camping during the week sometime, you will love it.
- Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
- Repackage food to minimize waste. We highly recommend this, because we see countless clients overpack and throw out food. We have some awesome recipes in our guidebook, which you can request a copy via email.
- Use a map and compass or GPS to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging. You won’t have to worry much about this with our trips, but it is still good to do when you arrive at your parking spot and once you arrive to your furnished campsite.
Principle 2: Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces
- Durable surfaces would include maintained trails and designated campsites, rock, gravel, sand, dry grasses or snow. This will not always be clear when in the wild and always be sure to check with your guides.
- Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams. We do our best to hold true to this but most of our sites are on small islands that are under 300 feet wide sometimes.
- Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary. We wish more people followed this, but on a crowded weekend you will see this being ignored by some. We reuse our same sites and maintain a balance between them.
- 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.
Principle 3: Dispose of Waste Properly
- Pack it in, pack it out; this is the number 1 rule here, but with us you don’t have to worry about packing it out, we do that for you. All you have to do is inspect your campsite, food preparation areas, and rest areas for trash or spilled food. Throw away all trash, leftover food and litter. We take care of the rest.
- Utilize toilet facilities whenever possible. Otherwise, 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. We have a porta potty for you to use on every camping trip.
- Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products. Again, all we ask you do is dispose of your waste as instructed and we will haul it out. Never throw anything in the lake!
- 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. We bring in filtered fresh water and have designated wash stations to use, and we provide the soap.
Principle 4: Leave What You Find
- Preserve the past: meaning examine and photograph, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts. This one is pretty important and is always expected.
- Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them. We have never had any issues with our clients doing this, but it is recommend for your own safety to not touch anything that’s not included in our services.
- Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
- Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches. We will provide you with all the tents and furniture you need to camp as well as the fire pit and ask you not to dig more or change the setup in any way.
Principle 5: Minimize Campfire Impacts
- Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the environment. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light. This is a great rule if you’re traveling into a pristine area, but all of our sites are located in populated areas with full-use fire pits.
- Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires. As we previously stated, all our sites will have a main fire pit located in the center of your site and is the only place allowed to have an open flame fire.
- Keep fires small. Only use down and dead wood from the ground that can be broken by hand. We will provide a rationed supplies of firewood, but if you want more, please follow the statement above.
- Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes. If you request one of our field guides, you won’t have to worry about this as we take care of this.
Principle 6: Respect Wildlife
- Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them. This is true with geese as they can sometimes attack if they have any young near them. Lots of examples of this but on our trips, they would be the ones you have to worry about the most.
- Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, [habituates them to humans], and exposes them to predators and other dangers. This would include feeding ducks bread, we ask that you do not throw any food to the birds near your sites.
- Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely. You won’t have to worry about this much at our sites, because the sites are on an island, there are not many mammals that will swim to them or live on the island.
- Control pets at all times, or leave them at home. We pride ourselves in having pet friendly services, but we do ask you follow the rules and keep them in check, and clean up after them.
- Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
Principle 7: Be Considerate of Other Visitors
- Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience. You will never be next to any other clients of ours, but other groups can and will be boating nearby. Please remember that we utilize public lands and spaces, so treat it and the people around you with respect.
- Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trails or water. It’s always appreciated to help a boat coming into the beach or help them leave the beach by pushing them off.
- Take breaks when you can and camp away from trails or other visitors when possible. Luckily, all of our camping is off the beaten path and away from the crowds and boat traffic.
- Let nature’s sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices, noises and yes, even too much music. Please remember you’re getting outside for a reason, and that’s to unwind, so relax and let nature’s music shine.
Please follow this outdoor code and leave no trace behind, like the local cub scouts leave no trace. Take pride in having a clean site and letting nature thrive by not disturbing it. We don’t offer a leave no trace certification or any sort of leave no trace logo, but we do strive to leave no trace when camping and boating.