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Recreate Responsibly

As the weather in Western Washington continues to improve, stay at home orders begin to relax, and public lands begin to reopen, we encourage you to spend some time outdoors. However, we ask that you recreate responsibly. Please remember to follow all seven Leave no Trace principles listed below as well as all CDC guidelines. We recommend that you visit the Leave no Trace website, and review the official guidance from the agency overseeing the land where you are recreating prior to going out. Here is a link to Skagit Land Trust’s public access guide.

A summary of Leave no Trace principles and other suggestions for day use recreation is listed below.


1. Plan Ahead

Think about all of the elements of your trip. Make sure that you have all of the right gear, food, and water for a successful trip. Ensure that the trail or park you are heading to is open, call ahead! Click here for more things to consider when planning a trip.

COVID-19 additions: Stay close to home and ask yourself if you are planning on going to a popular trail or during a busy time of day? Think about picking a different trail or going at a less busy time of day. Do you have a way to wash your hands? Throw some hand sanitizer or soap and extra water in your backpack.

2. Travel on Durable Surfaces

Stay on the trail! Remaining on the trail ensures that alternate routes do not appear causing harm to the landscape. When you need to walk off trail, whether that is to use the bathroom, let someone pass, or if there are no trails at all, focus on the durability of the surfaces around you. Think about how well the vegetation, and soils will hold up after being stepped on. Keep your pet on a leash to help them stay on durable surfaces too! Click here to learn more about durable surfaces.

COVID-19 additions: It is recommended to practice social distancing while on the trail. Remain six feet from other groups, and step off of the trail to let another group pass. Be mindful of your surroundings when stepping off of the trail.

3. Dispose of Waste Properly

Human Waste

It’s always best to make sure to use a toilet before you head outside, and to hold it until you return to a toilet if you can. If holding it isn’t possible, disposing of human waste properly is very important as it prevents contamination of waterways, minimizes the spread of disease, and maximizes the rate of decomposition.

“Cat holes” are the most widely accepted method of human waste disposal. Place a cat hole in an inconspicuous site 200ft (70 adult paces) from any water source, campsite, or trail. With a small shovel, dig a hole 6-8in deep and 4-6in wide. If used, toilet paper should be packed out for later disposal. Disguise the hole well when finished. Click here to learn more about the best practices for human waste disposal.

Other Forms of Waste

“Pack it in, Pack it out” Ensure that any garbage that you bring out into the wilderness is brought out with you. Bring along a plastic bag to collect your garbage, or garbage from others that you may find. Additionally, remember to pick up after your dog, as their waste also could cause contamination of a waterway and makes natural areas unpleasant for other visitors.

COVID-19 additions: Keep in mind that bathroom facilities in many locations may not be open to limit the spread of COVID 19, so make sure everyone in your household uses your toilet before you leave your house. Be sure you are prepared to Leave No Trace.

4. Minimize Site Alterations

Leave natural areas as you found them. Avoid damaging live trees and plants. Picking a couple flowers may not seem like it would cause an impact, but if everyone does this, it can wreck havoc on natural areas. Experienced hikers may enjoy edible plants but should not deplete the surviving vegetation. Click here to learn more about leaving natural areas natural.

5. Minimize Fire Impacts

Fires are not permitted on Skagit Land Trust properties. We encourage you to follow specific guidelines regarding campfires for the lands that you are recreating on. Please review these suggestions regarding how to determine if you should or should not build a fire.

6. Respect Wildlife

Do not disturb wildlife when possible, observe from a distance and do not approach. Remember that you are a visitor in their home. Seeing wildlife is a special treat, loud noises and quick movements can be stressful to animals. Do not touch, get close to, feed or pick up wild animals. Wildlife can be dangerous and also may carry diseases. Keep your pet on a leash to help them respect wildlife too! Please click here to learn more about interactions with wildlife.

7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Many people come to the outdoors to enjoy the sounds of nature. Lots of noise and or loud music may take away from an outdoor experience. Be mindful about your actions when spending time outdoors and how they may affect the experience of others. Please click here for a list of other considerations to take while recreating outdoors.

COVID-19 additions:

  • Be sure to keep a 6 ft distance between you and other hikers. Try announcing to a group approaching you that you will step off of the trail to let them by.
  • Park a spot away from another car if you arrive at the same time to allow significant space between you and another person.
  • If you are feeling ill, stay home and save your adventure for another time.
  • Wear a mask and practice good hygiene. Cover your mouth when you pass others, use a buff, a bandana or face mask. Keep your hands clean and avoid touching high-traffic surfaces such as railings, picnic tables, or surfaces in restroom facilities.
  • As always, keep your pets on a leash – the CDC recommends keeping your furry friends on a leash so that you can ensure they also maintain 6 ft of distance from others. Please review this guidance on pets and the corona virus.

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