Continuing Education

A leave-no-trace refresher. 

Come spring, we’re eager to get back on the trails and explore. However, as more and more people enjoy these shared spaces, we could all use a reminder to think about our impacts. Now is a great time to review the seven principles of Leave No Trace. 

Plan Ahead & Prepare
When we’re poorly prepared, we’re more likely to run into problems. Before hitting the trails, know the regulations—the when, what, and where that each activity is allowed. Then pack the right gear. What do you need to make these early-season outings safe and successful? Before you go, don’t forget to tell someone where you’re going. This is good insurance in case of an accident, an equipment malfunction, or a wrong turn.

Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces
Spring in the Gallatin Valley means mud. Be mindful of the damage you can do to our trails and seek out dryer places to recreate. Bikes, horses, and foot traffic can leave lasting ruts on our favorite trails when they’re saturated. While you’re out, travel on designated trails and avoid creating spur trails or shortcutting switchbacks. This minimizes the repair work volunteers have to do and gives them more time for brushing and clearing. 

Dispose of Waste Properly
The mantra of the season is “pack it in, pack it out.” If we each left a wrapper in the forest imagine the effect. That applies to your dog’s poop, doggy bag, and your waste too. If you’re away from an outhouse, dig a cathole at least six to eight inches deep so that the next person or my dog doesn’t discover it. And never, ever leave toilet paper on the ground—it’s unsightly, disgusting, and disrespectful to others. Emergencies happen, but at the absolute least, dig a hole with your heel and put a big log or rock on top. 

Leave What You Find
Public spaces belong to us all. Please take only pictures and leave only footprints. The impact of one person picking flowers or neat rocks is small, however, the impact from all of us has consequences. 

Minimize Campfire Impacts
Campfires are a ritual, a right to be enjoyed and cherished. Enjoy them, but know where they're allowed—and Lava Lake is not one of these places. Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings and keep fires small. Burn all wood and coals to ash, then put the fire out completely. Don’t be the person who burns down our back yard. 

Respect Wildlife
While on the trail we need to give wildlife space. They are a pleasure to watch but our presence is stressful for most animals. Watch them from afar and control your pets. Bozeman is a dog town, but if you’re unable to keep your pup in check, leash it. 

Be Considerate of Other Visitors
This season, let’s be courteous. Step aside for the uphill traveler and give them space. At the crag, turn down (or off) your music. Not everyone wants to hear it. On your favorite trail, slow down through the tight corners and be careful. And again, not everyone likes your dog as much as you do, so keep it close.