Area visitors are encouraged to “Leave No Trace”
by Stina Sieg
contributing writer
Apr 09, 2009 | 18145 views | 0 0 comments | 1750 1750 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When it comes to impacting the desert landscape, Paul Henderson, the chief of interpretation and visitor services at Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, thinks that most people want to do the right thing. Unfortunately, he also believes that most have no idea what the right thing is. “In fact, deserts are fairly fragile places,” said Henderson.

For all those in the dark, he offers a mantra: “Leave no trace.”

The Leave No Trace principles date back as far as the 1970s and have now been adopted by a wide variety of outdoor groups and agencies, from the Bureau of Land Management to the Boy Scouts of America.

The basic tenants, as condensed from the BLM’s website, are:

• Plan ahead and prepare. Unprepared groups usually make high-impact choices out of necessity.

• Travel and camp on durable surfaces. (In the desert, that means hiking on washes, established trails and rocks. Especially avoid soil crusts.)

• Pack it in. Pack it out.

• Properly dispose of what you can’t pack out.

• Leave what you find.

• Minimize use and impact of fires.

By familiarizing people with these ideas, Henderson hopes to bring them up to speed with the ins and outs of the local terrain, which, he said, is nothing like the relatively sturdy ecosystems of rainy forest or ocean beaches.

“Here, a set of tire tracks, a set of footprints in the wrong place can be there for 40 or 50 years,” he said.

For more detailed tips, visit the BLM website at

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