Take Only Pictures, Leave Only Footprints

‘Tis the season when so many of us are taking advantage of warmer weather to get out and enjoy nature – hiking, biking, swimming, camping, and more. Yet no matter the season or the location, whenever you are outdoors, remember to RECREATE responsibly and help others to do the same.

There’s an old saying that goes, “Take only pictures, leave only footprints.” There are variations to this, but the idea is that this philosophy shows appreciation and respect for nature without harming it. If you “take only pictures” you are leaving a natural place just as you found it. It can be tempting to take a rock or pick a flower. Yet these don’t belong in our homes and by leaving them where you find them, others can enjoy them (and the flowers will regrow the next season!).

“Leave only footprints,” reminds us not to litter or harm the environment. Even tiny pieces of litter should be picked up. Food scraps as well. It’s easy to think that throwing an apple core off trail will provide a meal for a nearby critter. But unless that apple came from the place where you are hiking, it doesn’t belong there. Not only can our foods harm wildlife, the wildlife can easily become dependent on human food during busy seasons. When the weather changes, that food source disappears, and animals may have a hard time surviving. In addition, we should never deface rocks or trees, leaving behind marks that may hurt trees and will diminish natural beauty.

And one last word about footprints. You should avoid leaving those too! Whenever possible, follow a trail or rock-hop. Even one footstep can harm fragile plants in many environments. When it’s muddy or wet, get muddy or wet – don’t create a new trail.

Recreating responsibly means respecting nature and leaving no trace. Help others in your group to do the same because it’s #YourPlanetToo.