Keeping Islands Pristine (Leave No Trace)

Islands off the coast of Maine are well known to be environmentally fragile and morphologically and ecologically transitory: for example, the last major storm seen in the northeast – in February 2010 – saw many hundreds of trees uprooted leaving root beds open to the elements, surface soils washed down to beaches, new rock surfaces exposed and animal and bird habitats permanently changed.  Recreational use of the islands can also have significant, if not as dramatic, an impact – though using good standard practices, collectively known as “Leave No Trace (or simply, LNT) Principles” this can be minimized even when large numbers of people are ‘just visiting’.  Many of the islands now have “Leave No Trace” pamphlets or simply a list  of LNT Practices posted near campsites.  I thought it might be useful to review them here in some detail.

The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics which is an educational, research and outreach organization headquartered in Boulder, CO has as its mission statement “…to teach people how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly.”  The Center has an informative website, www/, which describes it’s commitment to the use of the outdoors and which interestingly focuses primarily on people’s behavior rather than on the environment per se on the assumption that if we are act responsibly, the environment is ‘ours’ to enjoy, and if we do not then we will ‘lose’ it.

There are seven basic principles embodied in the ethos of the LNT Center:

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.

That’s all you need to know in outline.  For more info…