Outdoor Ethics

The County is proud to partner with Leave No Trace Canada to promote responsible use of natural areas during outdoor recreational activities.

People enjoy the outdoors in myriad ways.  We explore on foot, kayak, horseback, mountain bikes, skis and snowshoes, to name a few.  While we seek to render our experiences personally satisfying, we also need to be aware of our impacts on the land, on wildlife, as well as on other visitors, present and future (Leave No Trace Canada, 2011).

At the heart of Leave No Trace are seven principles for reducing damage during recreational activities: 

1. Plan and Prepare

  • 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.
  • Repackage food to minimize waste.
  • Use a map and compass.

2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

  • Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
  • Protect riparian 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.
  • Keep campsites small. Focus on 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.

3. 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 catholes dug 15-20 centimetres deep, at least 70 metres 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 70 metres away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.

4. 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 find them.
  • Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
  • Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.

5. Minimize Campfire Impacts

  • Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a light-weight 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 ash. 

6. 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.
  • Avoid wildlife sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young or winter.

7. 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.

  Photo credit: Laurie Sandboe