What is Leave No Trace?

It is a National educational program designed to instill an outdoor ethic and to teach minimum impact skills to recreationists, which will help protect the outdoor areas they recreate in from degradation.

It is administered with a Memorandum of Understanding between three groups.

  • The National Outdoor Leadership School is the educational arm of the organization. They provide the curriculum and instruction, training Master teachers who train Trainers, who in turn teach others.
  • The next group includes the four Federal agencies that manage public land. Leave No Trace benefits the land they are managing.
  • The third group is LNT, Inc. They are the marketing arm, which works with private industry and gets corporate sponsorships. Many companies have endorsed LNT. They are manufacturers of recreational clothing and equipment of all kinds. Nike is one of the major sponsors of the corporation.

The Leave No Trace philosophy encompasses awareness, an attitude and a set of guidelines.


Being aware of the outdoors is the first step of Leave No Trace.  Realizing that things are changing, resulting from more people recreating, sometimes creates situations we don’t like. It might be that there is garbage left where we like to camp or regulations have restricted the area.

  • Why do you like to ride your horse?
  • Where do you like to ride?
  • Why do you like to ride there?
  • Has this area changed in your lifetime? How?


Every individual has a set of values or a conscience, which determines his behavior. It tells him what he believes is right or wrong. This is his ethic.

What is your ethic? Have you ever thought about what you believe in? It is good to know what kind of integrity you have. Make conscious decisions about how you act and the choices you make. Look back and see if you like the decisions you have made.

OK, how does this apply to LNT?

  • Do you care about the places you go outdoors to play?
  • Do you want them to still be there like they are for years to come?
  • You need to make conscious decisions to try to keep them that way by how you conduct yourself.
  • Do you take responsibility and clean up after yourself and your animals?
  • Do you try to leave the area nicer than when you got there? If you don’t, it won’t change.
  • Do you care just about yourself or about others who may use the area too?
  • Do you care just about today or 20 years down the road when your kids may want to have the same experience?
  • What kind of example are you for your kids? It all depends on your attitude to our public lands.

A Set of Guidelines or the Principals

See the LNT Principles for Horsemen.

Leave No Trace has a set of Guidelines for recreating in the outdoors. It applies to any geographic area and to different seasonal conditions.

There are different skills associated with each guideline, from one creating definite changes to one on the high end of the scale with no impact.

You choose which skill to use that you are most comfortable with depending on the conditions you are in. You might do something very different in the same place with horses in the spring than you would in the fall when the ground is dry and hard.

Your good judgment is the best tool you have to Leave No Trace. Using good judgment is based on your awareness and your attitude. Read the Leave No Trace Principles for Horsemen>>