Post by Jacque Rosa, Education Intern
I read this quote to a group of middle school students as we sat atop the High Cliffs, overlooking the open ocean. Leopold’s words perfectly summed up the past few days we spent learning about and practicing Leave No Trace (LNT), a program that promotes the sustainable use of the natural world through a set of environmental ethics and guidelines. These students were participating in a two-week coastal Maine trip led by Overland, an organization that runs expedition based summer trips for 4th- 12th graders. Their coastal Maine trip includes backpacking in the White Mountains, hiking Mt. Katahdin, sea kayaking, and spending three days on Hurricane Island. During their time here, we explored all seven principles of LNT that aim to guide individuals to leave as little impact as possible in the wilderness. The Leave No Trace educational program began in the early 1990’s, through a collaboration of the U.S Forest Service, the National Outdoor Leadership Service (NOLS), and the Bureau of Land Management.
Today, the LNT program is taught around the world with the following core principles:
- Plan Ahead and Prepare
- Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
- Dispose of Waste Properly
- Leave What You Find
- Minimize Campfire Impacts
- Respect Wildlife
- Be Considerate of Others
These principles can be applied to any outdoor activity, from rock climbing and kayaking, to hunting and fishing. If you are planning a visit to Hurricane, or are already enrolled in one of our programs, here are ways you can practice LNT on the island:
1. Be Prepared For a Day on the Island: Check the weather report before coming out to Hurricane and dress appropriately. Bring layers, water, and food if you are planning to be on the island all day. Talk to a staff member or let someone know where you are hiking on the island and when you will be back, as cell service does not reach beyond our main building.
2. Stay on the Marked Trails: While our trails can often be muddy, it is crucial to stay on existing trails and trek through any puddles or mud. Creating social trails (trails that are convenient or avoid muddy areas) can erode existing vegetation.
3. Avoid micro-trash: Keep track of all tiny pieces of trash (like the corners of wrappers) and secure them in your pockets or pack. Help keep Hurricane Island beautiful by picking up any trash (including marine debris), even if it is not yours.
4. Preserve the Past: Artifacts from the quarry are scattered around the island, offering a glimpse into Hurricane’s rich history as a booming quarry town from 1845-1914. Feel free to observe and take pictures of artifacts, but leave any objects you see as you found them in order to preserve the past and the stories they tell.
5. Keep Our Water Source Safe: Because the quarry acts as our fresh water source, please refrain from swimming in or polluting the quarry. Utilize our composting toilets that are placed around the island to do your business, instead of using the “facili-trees.”
6. Observe Wildlife From a Distance: Hurricane Island is home to a variety of wildlife including birds, snakes, frogs, deer, raccoon, and meadow voles. Seals and other marine invertebrates can also be spotted along our coastlines. Bring binoculars on your hike to get a closer look, while still keeping a safe distance. Bring drawing or painting materials to record things you see without taking them with you. Please don’t feed any wildlife, as animals will start to rely on human food and become habituated to human presence.
7. Sharing is Caring: During your time here, please be mindful of other visitors and respect their outdoor experience. Let the sounds of nature prevail as you explore the island and practice trail etiquette, such as stepping aside to let someone pass and keeping pets on a leash.
We encourage everyone to practice these principles on Hurricane Island, and wherever your travels take you. For more information about Leave No Trace, visit their website here.