Guidelines for Low Impact Wilderness Activities - Part Two - Behavior

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Your outdoor activities will be more enjoyable if you observe a few simple guidelines for conducting yourself in a proper manner while in a wilderness setting. Your goal should be to strive to become a part of your natural environment and blend in with your surroundings. Your behavior will make the process a lot easier, safer and create less stress for you. It will also lessen the impact of your activities upon the natural environment.

Guidelines for Behavior in Wilderness Areas

1. Minimize the amount of noise you make while in a wilderness area. Excessive noise can disturb many animals which may have an adverse effect on them which you may not intend. Learning to travel quietly in a wilderness setting will also give you the opportunity to hear many of the sounds of nature that you might otherwise miss. There is an exception to this guideline. When traveling in bear country, it is best to use bear bells to inform bears of your presence.

2. Avoid disturbing any animals you may encounter. Do not chase or harass any animals or wildlife you may come across during your wilderness trip. You don’t want what may be their first encounter with people to be an unpleasant or stressful experience. Remember to never feed animals in the wild because this may hinder their ability to forage for their own food sources and may cause them to develop a dependence on an improper, unreliable and unnatural food source. Always keep your food items properly stored and out of reach of wildlife.

3. When traveling through a wilderness area, utilize existing trails and designated campsites. Don’t take shortcuts or try to develop your own trails. Stay safe and avoid areas with steep slopes (both upward and downward slopes) so as to minimize the changes you may cause in the terrain. If you have to ascend or descend steep slopes while on the trail, be sure to use extra caution so as to avoid possible injury or making a major change in the natural environment. When taking breaks on the trail, look for durable sites where you will have a minimum impact on the natural environment.

4. Avoid disturbing natural features as much as possible. Don’t disturb any cultural features or sites that may have archaeological or historical value. Don’t collect natural “souvenirs” of your trip…leaves rocks, plants, etc. where you find them. Instead, take pictures of things with a unique interest to you or simply buy a postcard at the local souvenir shop.

5. Use gear and hiking equipment that will have a minimum impact on the natural environment. Don't leave any camping gear or equipment behind when you leave and remember to take your garbage with you. Don't treat the natural environment as a dumping ground for your trash.

When you are a guest of nature, you should always act accordingly.

Staying above the water line!




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