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Wilderness Ethics

Take only pictures, leave only footprints

There is no way to resolve the paradox of the great attraction of the wilderness. Its undisturbed isolation is inevitably changed when we respond to the attraction. We are uncomfortably aware that our very presence violates an unspoiled environment. But there are ways to minimize the effects of our invasion. We can recognize where we are most disruptive, and we can adopt a few simple precepts.

Know your limitations and check with the leader if you are unsure about the physical requirements for the trek. You will be respected for staying behind if you feel unprepared for the hike. 

Stay with the group. If you step off the trail for personal reasons, let the person in front or following you know. Again, you are responsible for not getting lost.

Take no living specimens of any kind. Collect no archaeological specimens (this includes arrowheads, potsherd and chipping flakes). If you pick anything up, replace it exactly as you found it. Beachdrift, too, has its place in the total scene. Within the few years that groups like ours have been coming to beaches, the depletion of natural items has become painfully obvious. Although the drift shells are almost irresistible, we urge restraint on both aesthetic and ecological grounds. Even shells play a part in maintaining a "natural balance." 

Keep away from occupied bird nests. Your presence may effectively evict the occupant. A frightened bird may abandon its home permanently. Eggs left even for a short time may "spoil" on exposure to the ambient temperature. Hatchlings also are susceptible to temperature changes, and parents may not return to feed them. Moreover, eggs and hatchlings can be preyed upon by predators (birds, snakes, etc.) when the parents are frightened from the nest. Remember, a great photo means very little if the animals are killed as a result.

Whenever possible, keep to the established trails. Try to walk in a single file. We want to leave everything as pristine as possible for others to cherish, protect and enjoy.

Take care of your personal needs off trails and away from water sources. Use a trowel to bury waste, digging down about eight inches. Decomposing bacteria are near the surface. There is no need to bury urine. Bring all toilet paper out with you. Most of us find it convenient to carry a small zip-lock bag for this purpose. 

Please pack out all trash with you, including apple cores, fruit skins and nutshells. Coyotes dig up everything so burying does not work.