Negative Trace - Going Beyond Leave No Trace


Negative Trace is actually a positive way to take Leave No Trace a step further and actually remove trash or undo damage that others have left behind. Negative trace is about reversing any negative impacts that humans have caused in nature and can be as easy as bending over and picking up a stray trail bar wrapper. Some people also refer to this ethic as "Erase The Trace".

We get so much enjoyment from hiking, backpacking or camping, etc. that we should take time to give back. Land managers are often short on trail maintainers and wilderness rangers so why not help maintain your favorite areas? If an area sees too much abuse new restrictions could be imposed. A little preventative maintenance can make a big difference. So besides leaving a minimum impact yourself, you can make an even bigger contribution by picking up any miscellaneous trail trash you find, planting trees, and more.

Here are some photos of a few of my more ambitious trail projects:

Used and Abused

Negative Trace!

fire ring & rock seats before
These rock seats & fire ring were far off the beaten path and I was very surprised to find them. Needless to say they were spoiling the view.
negative trace! fire ring dismantled
I think it only took 10 minutes to dismantle everything and naturalize the area. When the vegetation fills in you won't know a fire ring was here.
old rock fire ring
This rock fire ring was far from the main trail and hadn't been used in years.
no trace of the old fire ring
A little effort can make a big difference.
Took me only 5 minutes.
driftwood before
This tree... I guess technically driftwood, was on the beach and had collected pieces of balloon ribbon, fishing line and a lure plus some string.
negative trace! driftwood after
After a few minutes of cleaning off this driftwood it is back to it's natural state and looks good as new!
rock graffiti before
This graffiti looked like someone was doing an outdoor spelling lesson or something. They defaced this rock by writing coal with a piece of coal.
negative trace! rock graffiti gone
Just a little scrubbing the rock with some mud (with a decayed piece of wood and also my boots) and rinsing with water removed the graffiti.
fire ring before
This campsite was actually on a tiny island and was beautiful yet fragile. It had experienced some abuse by some beer drinking buffoons. I did what I could and packed out the trash.
negative trace! fire ring after
Looks better doesn't it? Fires are so unnecessary. The pursuit of fires cause the majority of the negative impact in the outdoors. I wish people who selfishly insist on a fire would realize that safe fires can be had without a rock fire ring.

I don't always carry a camera so I don't have photos of all the significant "rehabilitations" I have done. I'll post more pictures when I take some worth showing off.

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