This week, I wanted to focus on the Leave no Trace principles. These seven principles are about reducing the impact we have on the environment when we get outside. You can find out more information on these principles at www.leavenotrace.ca

May 17, 2021

Plan Ahead and Prepare. This one is pretty obvious, but the idea is that you plan your outdoor adventures in advance and come prepared so that you don’t impact the local environment. This might include having maps and safety equipment, but it also includes understanding your own limits and not putting yourself in a position where damage to the local environment might occur.

Canon 80D – EF 50mm – f8.0 – 1/250 – ISO 200

The items in this shot always accompany me on my camping trips. I’m glad I’ve never needed to use most of it, but that just comes with good planning.

May 18, 2021

Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces. This is another obvious one, but also one that is easy to forget. When walking through forests, be sure to stick to the clear trails and don’t go wandering off through the bush. Sensitive plants and ground nests can easily be damaged, no matter how careful you think you might be. While camping on crown land in Ontario is encouraged, be sure to plan ahead and find pre-established campsites.

Canon 80D – EFS 18-135mm – 42mm – f4.5 – 1/20 – ISO 200

The trails through the Forested Hills ESPA are easy to find, with all the lush green around them. The forest floor is carpeted in wildflowers, like trilliums, and the unbroken space between trails is beautiful.

May 19, 2021

Respect Wildlife. Another obvious statement (I’m starting to sense a theme). I love seeing and watching wildlife and taking pictures, when I can. It’s important though, to not feed wildlife so that they become used to getting food in areas that put them at risk. I’ve heard stories of people baiting wildlife in order to get pictures, and that’s not okay. Also, don’t go chasing wildlife for a better view. You could be drawing a parent away from a nearby baby, putting it at risk.

Canon 80D – Sigma 150-600mm – 600mm – f6.3 – 1/320 – ISO 200

One of the reasons I love my super-telephoto lens, is that I can get close up shots from far back. This baby American robin was on my neighbours’ front lawn, while the parent robin was nearby, foraging for worms.

May 20, 2021

Minimize Campfire Impacts. If you are lucky enough to get a campsite in Ontario, it means you will also have access to some kind of pre-determined fire pit. If you are going to have a fire, use it! These pits are located away from tree roots (Google underground fires) and will often have sand or gravel underneath as well. If you are on crown land, look for existing campsites and only build fires where you can be sure it is safe. If you can’t be certain, and have planned ahead, just use a camp stove.

Canon 80D – EFS 18-135mm – 64mm – f5.0 – 1/160 – ISO 200

The campsites in the Laurel Creek Conservation Area use old tire rims for the campfire pits. These are easy to find and established in spots that leave lots of room for chairs, while maintaining safety.

May 21, 2021

Leave What You Find. Early summer is that time of year when the wild berries will be coming out and it’s tempting to grab a handful of the fruits of mother nature’s labour. However, you need to remember that these berries feed the local wildlife, and while one person picking a few berries probably isn’t an issue, hundreds of people doing the same thing all summer long, would be a problem. The rocks, sticks, flowers, and other bits of nature all have a purpose in the environment. Removing them could impact the ecosystem.

Canon 80D – EFS 18-135mm – 135mm – f5.6 – 1/80 – ISO 200

These flowers have started to bloom and will soon have little red strawberries. I planted strawberries in my garden last year, but the squirrels got to them before I did. Maybe I’ll have more luck this year!

May 22, 2021

Dispose of Waste Properly. I had a recent post about how people leave their garbage in the forest. So this principle is pretty important to me. I can’t stand seeing garbage left on trails because someone is too lazy to dispose of it properly. Bring a small bag to deal with your garbage if you don’t want to put it back in your pocket. Maybe one of the most annoying things is seeing people drop bagged dog poop on the trail. Plan your route better and dispose of the waste properly.

Canon 80D – EFS 18-135mm – 92mm – f5.6 – 1/2500 – ISO 200

We have a lot of different trails in our neighbourhood and the local forests. We know where all the garbage bins are so we know when we can get rid of the waste. Our municipality has also installed green dog waste receptacles, where the waste is collected and used for producing green energy.

May 23, 2021

Be Considerate of Other Visitors. This might have become even more obvious during the past 14+ months. While the principle really focuses on sharing the trail and being aware of your impact on other people’s experiences, the pandemic has made us more aware of comfort levels when it comes to passing people on trails. Some people just walk by without leaving space, while others are as far over as they can possibly be. Knowing that some people want that extra space, be kind and move over so they don’t have to walk way off trail for their comfort level.

Canon 80D – EFS 18-135mm – 50mm – f5.0 – 1/60 – ISO 200

The Laurel Creek Conservation Area has these signs posted throughout the trails to remind visitors about the rules. While most people are good about it, there are some that still haven’t gotten the message. Lilo doesn’t understand why she can’t greet everyone and she’ll be happy when she can get all the attention again.