Leave No Trace Environmental Ethics 

The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics suggests the following principles for trip planning:

  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare

  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

  3. Dispose of Waste Properly

  4. Leave What You Find

  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts

  6. Respect Wildlife

  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

"The member-driven Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics teaches people how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly. This copyrighted information has been reprinted with permission from the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics."


Here are my subjective additions to the Seven Principles:

  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare: Poor preparation often requires an outdoor party to alter the landscape more than is necessary. Think through your entire trip very carefully and anticipate problems.

  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces: Always stay on the trail. Whenever possible, hike on solid rock or sand instead of on vegetation. Set your camp preferably in an already-used site or try to set your camp on a durable ground surface. Never camp within 300 yards of a water source. Follow the "campsite rule:" always leave a campsite in better condition than you found it.

  3. Dispose of Waste Properly: Carry a trash bag and use it. Always pack out toilet paper and other sanitary products, even if you are leaving your waste in a cat hole. Use biodegradable soap products.

  4. Leave What You Find: This applies especially to Hawai'i because you are likely to encounter undocumented ancient sites that still contain artifacts. Touch nothing in any archaeological site. It's a violation of federal law, and is incredibly disrespectful to the Hawaiian people. Beyond ancient artifacts, also leave the nautural world as undisturbed as you found it. Never pick wildflowers. Never take rocks. Never carve your name in a tree. Take only photographs -- stealing things from our public lands is selfish and will degrade our shared resources over time.

  5. Minimize Campfire Impact: I don't build campfires because I think they are a blight upon the land and a source of light pollution at night. If you must build a campfire, use an existing fire ring. Always ensure your fire is completely out before leaving the area or sleeping.

  6. Respect Wildlife: Leave all wildlife alone and give them a wide berth. Keep your dog on a leash at all times, or better yet, leave them at home. Dogs chase wildlife and can alter the delicate balance nature has implemented in the more natural areas of Hawai'i. Never feed wildlife -- it's usually illegal anyway.

  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors: Turn off your cellphone. Keep your voice low. Be polite to other trail users. Remember the universal trail rules: bikes yield to foot traffic; bikes and foot traffic yield to horses; the person going uphill has the right of way.