Leave No trace

Teaching individuals to become leaders in backcountry ethics

Leave No Trace Training

The Appalachian Mountain Club is a provider of Leave No Trace Master Educator courses and Leave No Trace Trainer Courses in partnership with the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. Master Educator courses are typically 5 days in length and designed for people who are actively each other backcountry skills or providing recreation information to the public. Trainer courses are two days in length and designed to provide an in-depth orientation to LNT for those interested in developing their backcountry ethic.

Contact Us

For more information and to register, please call 603-278-4453, 603-466-8156 or email amclnt@outdoors.org.

Leave No Trace Trainer

The two-day Trainer course is designed to provide an introduction to Leave No Trace and its principles. This program is for individuals interested in developing and strengthening their personal outdoor ethic through discussions and activities with fellow participants and instructors. Participants are able to take lodging the night before at AMC Camp Dodge. The first day of the course starts with a classroom orientation and preparation for an overnight in the backcountry. The group will be transported to a local trail and they will hike in to their campsite for the night to practice Leave No Trace principles. The next day the group will continue learning about Leave No Trace as they hike out and return to Camp Dodge by the afternoon of the second day.

Each course is staffed with a minimum of two highly experienced outdoor professionals who are Master Educator Instructors. Leave No Trace techniques are learned through discussions and hands-on activities. Upon successful completion of the course, you will be qualified to teach Leave No Trace Awareness Workshops that are a day or less.

Leave No Trace Master Educator 

The Master Course provides participants with a comprehensive overview of Leave No Trace skills and ethics through practical application in a field-based setting. The first day takes place in a classroom and introduces the course agenda and provides in-depth information on the overall Leave No Trace program, the LNT Center for Outdoor Ethics, and the AMC's history with LNT educational initiatives. Group and individual preparations for the field component of the course are also tended to on the first day. The remaining four days take place on a short backpacking or canoeing trip learning and applying the principles of Leave No Trace and discussing wildland ethics.

Each course is staffed with a minimum of two highly experienced outdoor professionals who are Master Educator Instructors. Leave No Trace techniques are learned through discussions and hands-on activities. Course participants will also lead a short session focused on one of the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace to practice teaching strategies in a supportive, educational environment.

Participants include a mixture of federal agency partners, educators, outdoor retailers, youth group and outing club leaders, and other individuals. Upon successful completion of the course, you will be qualified to teach Leave No Trace Trainer courses. The Leave No Trace Master Educator qualification is recognized and valued throughout the outdoor industry and by land management agencies.

 Meant to be viewed as guidelines for those who care about the land, Leave No Trace principles were developed in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Seven Principles are: 

Plan Ahead and Prepare

Know the terrain and any regulations applicable to the area you're planning to visit, and be prepared for extreme weather or other emergencies. This will enhance your enjoyment and ensure that you've chosen an appropriate destination. Small groups have less impact on resources and the experience of other backcountry visitors.

Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

Travel and camp on established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses, or snow. Good campsites are found, not made. Camp at least 200 feet from lakes and streams, and focus activities on areas where vegetation is absent. In pristine areas, disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.

Dispose of Waste Properly

Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your camp for trash or food scraps. Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug six to eight inches, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products. To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.

Leave What You Find

Cultural or historic artifacts, as well as natural objects such as plants or rocks, should be left as found.

Minimize Campfire Impacts

Cook on a stove. Use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires. If a campfire is built, keep it small and use dead sticks found on the ground.

Respect Wildlife

Observe wildlife from a distance. Feeding wildlife alters their natural behavior. Protect wildlife from your food by storing rations and trash securely.

Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Be courteous, respect the quality of other visitors' backcountry experience, and let nature's sounds prevail.

Why Leave No Trace?

"Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land," says author and noted conservationist Aldo Leopold. But how much harmony and balance do we attempt to strike during our recreational jaunts through public lands?

As outdoor recreation increases so does the evidence of our visits. Water pollution, displaced wildlife, trampled vegetation, and eroded soil can all result, ironically, from our love of the natural world and our desire to experience it.

Leave No Trace — A Preventive 

Measure Leave No Trace Principles, coupled with a respectful attitude and awareness, contribute to the development of "Wildland Ethics." Such ethics recognize the intrinsic value of wildlands and remind us that we are visitors to these locations. Yet, because our presence has altered so many landscapes, we have the responsibility to protect the few remaining areas that have some semblance of wildness. If we do not, authorities will.

When areas become too degraded from recreational impacts, land managers often respond with closures, permits, user fees, rules, and regulations. In other words, if we do not respect the flora and fauna by following Leave No Trace Principles on our own, we risk having land-managing agencies respond to degrading areas by imposing regulations. Many agencies have the dual mandate of protecting natural resources while also providing a quality recreational experience. Tighter controls are often their answer. 

Popular locations may lose their sense of wildness if they become actively managed. As the sheer number of outdoor enthusiasts increases and puts more pressure on wildlands, some level of regulation may be inevitable. Although managers do not establish regulations to detract from visitors' experience or to inconvenience them, outdoor enthusiasts may feel that restrictions change the character of a wild place.

Enforcement of rules and regulations tends not to preserve a visitor's experience. If there's one thing that most federal, state, private land managers and agencies, and the public can agree on, it's that education is preferable to regulations whenever possible. Regulations can bring about noticeable and timely resource recovery efforts, but they can also be difficult to implement and enforce. In addition, public sentiment can be unfavorable.

Regulations tend to be effective only in the areas where they are enforced and only for the areas they are designed to protect. Visitors there leave without taking away any new knowledge of backcountry stewardship. But when they learn Leave No Trace concepts, they develop a sense of stewardship and practice Leave No Trace wherever they visit and recreate. Their knowledge helps them lead others by example. Such behavior benefits the land, the visitors, and the land managers.

2016 LNT Master Educator Courses

Date Member Rate Non-member Rate Location Activity
May 2-6
$650 $715 Berkshires, MA Backpacking
May 9-14 $650 $715 White Mountains, NH Backpacking
August 8-12 $650 $715 White Mountains, NH Backpacking

What is Included

Master Educator Course tuition includes: meals, first night lodging, instruction, group equipment, transportation, curriculum materials, and a one-year membership with the Leave No Trace Center. Participants are responsible for travel to and from the course starting location, and for lodging the night before the course and the night after if applicable. 

To apply, complete the LNT Master Educator Application Form (PDF, 137 KB). Once we receive the application you will be contacted for additional registration information. For more information and to register email amclnt@outdoors.org.