LEAVE NO TRACE
Principles for Desert Environments
These principles are meant to be a guide to help you minimize the impact of your next backcountry visit on the spectacular desert wildlands of the Northern Mojave. The Leave No Trace ethic depends more on your attitude and awareness of this fragile and rugged ecosystem than on rules and regulations.
1. PLAN AHEAD AND PREPARE
Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit. Contact the Ridgecrest Field Office at (760) 384-5400 or the Jawbone OHV Station at (760) 373-1146.
For a safe and comfortable adventure, be sure to bring the appropriate clothing and equipment. Temperature and travel conditions can vary dramatically depending on the time of day, season, exposure, and elevation.
To lessen the amount of litter you have to pack out, try repackaging food into reusable containers or plastic bags.
Firewood is scarce in the desert, so plan on bringing your own or using a lightweight portable stove.
Getting There - Be sure to Tread Lightly
Travel only where permitted. Resist the urge to pioneer a new road or trail or to cut across a switchback.
Respect the rights of other visitors and get permission to travel across private land.
Educate yourself by obtaining travel maps and regulations from public land agencies and complying with signs and barriers.
Avoid driving through riparian areas, steep hillsides, and other areas that are easily scarred by churning wheels.
Drive responsibly to protect the environment and preserve opportunities to enjoy recreation on wild lands.
2. TRAVEL AND CAMP ON DURABLE SURFACES
On the Trail
Hike on established trails, if available. Travel single file in the middle of the path and do not shortcut switchbacks.
When going cross-country, choose the most durable surfaces available: rock, sand washes, or dry grasses.
Use a map and compass to eliminate the need for rock cairns.
Step to the downhill side of the trail and talk softly when encountering pack stock.
Choose an established, legal site that will not be damaged by your stay.
Try to restrict your activities to the area where soils are compacted and vegetation is absent.
If you cannot find an established campsite, make your camp on a durable surface such as slick rock or sand. Avoid camping on cultural sites or on crusted/cryptogam soils or desert pavement.
Keep pollutants out of precious desert water sources by camping at least 200 feet (70 adult steps) from seeps and springs.
Adjust your water consumption at each water source according to the source's replenishment rate. Use small water pockets, tinajas, and seeps only for drinking.
3. PACK IT IN PACK IT OUT
Pack everything that you bring into wild country back out with you.
Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations securely.
Pick up all spilled foods.
4. PROPERLY DISPOSE OF WHAT YOU CAN'T PACK OUT
Deposit human waste in catholes dug 6 inches deep at least 200 feet from water, camp, or trails.
Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
Use toilet paper sparingly and consider packing it out.
To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from water sources and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dish water.
Inspect your campsite for trash and evidence of your stay. Pack out all trash: yours and others!
5. LEAVE WHAT YOU FIND
Treat our cultural heritage with respect. Leave artifacts as you find them.
Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site should not be necessary. Do not build structures or furniture or dig trenches.
6. MINIMIZE THE USE AND IMPACT OF FIRES
Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Always carry a lightweight stove for cooking.
Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires. Do not scar large rocks or overhangs.
Gather sticks no larger than an adult's wrist.
Do not snap branches off live, dead, or downed trees.
Put out campfires completely.
Remove all unburned trash from the fire ring and scatter the cool ashes over a large area well away from camp.
For more information on Leave No Trace, a national land use ethic education program, call (800) 332-4100 or check out their web site at: http://www.lnt.org/
For more information on Tread Lightly!, an educational program on backcountry travel, call (800) 966-9900 or check out their web site at: http://www.treadlightly.org/