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Leave No Trace when Visiting Natural Spaces
Leave No Trace when Visiting Natural Spaces Image

Growing up, did you ever hear the saying, “Leave it better than you found it”? Well, it’s important to also think about our outdoor spaces in the same way and to try to leave absolutely no trace of our fun nature adventures.

‘Leave no trace’ refers to the idea that when visiting the outdoors, people should be careful to not leave any trace that they were there. Angelenos are blessed with a variety of great outdoor options and even though most of us would not intentionally harm our natural surroundings, there are certain actions we may overlook or not be aware of that can cause harm! To prevent this, here are some practices from experts that you should incorporate into your outdoor visits and day hikes:

  • As you’re hiking, walk single-file in the middle of the trail, even when it’s wet or muddy.
  • Don’t use bikes on trails that don’t allow biking, as doing so will cause erosion.
  • If you stop to eat food, be sure to check the ground for any spilled food and pack out all of your trash into a bag so you can carry it out and dispose of it properly.
  • If you see any litter on a trail, pick it up (leave it better than you found it)!
  • Always pick up after your dog. Dog waste is toxic – one gram of it contains 23 million fecal bacteria! Our ecosystems are impacted when dog waste gets carried by stormwater over the land and into our waterways. After placing the dog waste into a bag, be sure to bring it with you and dispose of it in city-issued black trash bins (not in the green yard waste bins).
  • If you have a pet with you, you must control them at all times to not impact the wildlife and environment. If you can’t control them, please leave them at home.
  • Don’t take rocks, plants and other natural objects. We know they’re beautiful but please leave them where you found them.
  • Do not move or change areas by building structures, furniture or digging trenches. There can be animals that rely on a certain area for shelter or food and moving or changing that area can negatively affect them.
  • Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species. Clean boot soles, kayak hulls and bike tires off between trips.
  • Observe wildlife from a distance – don’t follow or approach them.
  • Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
  • Let nature’s sounds prevail! Avoid loud voices and noises.

As we enjoy these natural spaces, we want to be sure that the environment isn’t impacted by our visit. All natural ecosystems have a balance to the way they operate and thrive—and while you’re there to appreciate these ecosystems and the beauty of the outdoors, be sure to not disrupt this delicate balance!

Even though areas like the San Gabriel mountains can feel remote, a piece of litter can travel far by being carried by stormwater, eventually landing in our storm drains, and potentially polluting our water system and ocean. Everything is connected which is why ‘leave no trace’ is so important for us all to remember!

Have more tips about how to ‘leave no trace’? Share them with us by emailing lastormwater@lacity.org.

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