NEW YORK (WWTI) — The Department of Environmental Conservation is reminding residents and visitors to practice “Leave No Trace™” while on New York State land this winter.
These principles provide guidance on how to reduce one’s environmental impact, as well as practice responsibility and safety. The Leave No Trace™ Seven Principles are listed below.
1. Plan ahead and prepare:
The DEC said that proper planning is “vital” during winter months. Experts recommend visitors to know their limits, set realistic goals and choose an appropriate experience. This includes considering rapidly changing winter weather and making a timeline, including a turnaround time.
Bring the ten “Hike Smart NY” essentials. This includes food, water, navigation, warm layers, snowshoes and traction devices, a headlamp, first-aid kit and matches or a lighter.
2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces:
Traveling on durable surfaces will help maintain a trail’s integrity and limits damage to trailside vegetation, the DEC said. Snow is only considered a durable surface when it is six inches deep.
3. Properly dispose of waste:
In New York, visitors to State lands are asked to carry out what they carry in. This includes garbage, food scraps, broken gear and pet waste. Trash should be disposed of in designated cans at a trailhead or at home.
4. Leave what you find:
Officials urge to leave trail signs and markers so others can find their way. Also, leave historic artifacts and natural features. Carving and graffiti on rocks and trees is also highly discouraged.
5. Minimize campfire impacts
Use designated fireplaces when possible and only burn dead and downed wood. When finished with a fire, extinguish it completely. The DEC said to never leave a fire unattended or build a fire inside a structure.
6. Respect wildlife:
Wildlife experts urge hikers and outdoor enthusiasts to never follow, approach or feed wildlife. Human food is known to harm wildlife and feeding wildlife can create bad habits, potentially leading to unwanted interactions with humans.
7. Be considerate of other visitors:
Follow winter trail etiquette which includes wearing snowshoes or skis on snowy trails to avoid post-holing, separating ski and snowshoe tracks when possible, yielding to downhill skiers and moving to the side of trails to let snowmobiles pass.
More outdoor winter guidance can be found on the Department of Environmental Conservation website.