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Leave No Trace

Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division logo

Boy Scouts of America
Principles of
Leave No Trace

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Quotes and outline from the Boys Scout Handbook, eleventh edition, 1998, pages 244 and 245.
The Boy Scouts of America have a "Leave No Trace Awareness Award."

1. PLAN AHEAD AND PREPARE
"Proper trip planning and preparation help hikers and campers accomplish trip goals safely and enjoyably while minimizing damage to natural and cultural resources.  Campers who plan ahead can avoid unexpected situations and minimize their impact by complying with area regulations such as observing limitations on group size."
Anglers need to plan ahead by having permission on private land and by adhering to proper license and permit requirements.  Anglers need to know the fishing laws and be prepared to care for their catch.  Know the weather forecast and take proper safety equipment including life jackets, if appropriate.  Leave a trip plan.

2. TRAVEL AND CAMP ON DURABLE SURFACES
"Damage to land occurs when visitors trample vegetation or communities or organisms beyond recovery.  The resulting barren areas develop into undesirable trails, campsites, and soil erosion."
Erosion causes fish habitat to be covered.  Boaters should motor slowly in shallow water because of safety reasons and to reduce disturbance of the bottom.

3. DISPOSE OF WASTE PROPERLY (PACK IT IN, PACK IT OUT)
"This simple yet effective saying motivates backcountry visitors to take their trash home with them.  It makes sense to carry out of the backcountry the extra materials taken there by your group or others.  Minimize the need to pack out food scraps by carefully planning meals.  Accept the challenge of packing out everything you bring."
Take everything back in your pack, even line trimmings.  Use a sealed plastic container to take out any leftover food.  Fish entrails and human body waste should be buried at least 6-inches deep and 200 feet from water, trails or campsites.

4. LEAVE WHAT YOU FIND
"Allow others a sense of discovery: leave rocks, plants, animals, archaeological artifacts, and other objects as you find them.  (It may also be illegal to remove archaeological artifacts.)"
In areas such as Alabama state parks, permission or permit is required for taking of rocks, plants, animals or archaeological artifacts.  Within required limits, you may harvest fish according to the rules and with proper permits/licenses, but you should consume what is harvested.  Do not modify stream bottoms.

5. MINIMIZE CAMPFIRE IMPACTS
"Some people would not think of camping without a campfire, yet the naturalness of many areas has been degraded by overuse of fires and increasing demand for firewood."
Burned areas cause increased erosion.  Campfire areas are unsightly near streams and lakes.

6. RESPECT WILDLIFE
"Quick movements and loud noises are stressful to animals.  Considerate campers observe wildlife from afar, give animals a wide berth, store food securely, and keep garbage and food scraps away from animals.  Help keep wildlife wild."
Quick movements and loud noises also reduce fish catching opportunities.  Respectfully handle fish that are caught and baits that are brought.  If you are keeping a fish, dispatch (kill) it quickly and humanely, such as with a blow to the head or slitting the gills.  Consider the use of lead-free fishing tackle.  Do not throw rocks into a stream or lake.

7. BE CONSIDERATE OF OTHER VISITORS
"Thoughtful campers travel and camp in small groups, keep the noise down, select campsites away from other groups, always travel and camp quietly, wear clothing and use gear that blend with the environment, respect private property, and leave gates (open or closed) as found.  Be considerate of other campers and respect their privacy."
Do not crowd other anglers.  The distance between anglers is based upon circumstances and anglers involved.  Travel and fish quietly so as not to disturb the angler nor the fish.  Wear clothing that blends with the environment, such clothing also minimizes you scaring the fish.

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