San Juan Islands' 7 Principles of Leave No Trace

We look forward to your visit to the beautiful San Juan Islands, and we hope your visit exceeds your expectations for recreation, relaxation and rejuvenation. Please keep the following in mind, leaving little impact on our precious islands and surrounding waters.

Here are the 7 Leave No Trace principles, tailored to the San Juan Islands environment (scroll down to see more information):

  • Plan Ahead and Prepare
  • Stick to Trails and Camp Overnight Right
  • Trash Your Trash and Pick Up Poop
  • Leave It  As You Find It
  • Be Careful With Fire
  • Keep Wildlife Wild
  • Be Considerate of Other Visitors

    Watch the Leave No Trace video about the San Juan Islands.

1. Plan ahead and prepare 

To stay safe, reduce stress and make the most of your visit:

  • Know the rules, regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit
  • Prepare for extreme weather, tides, currents, hazards, emergencies
  • Check weather reports
  • Schedule your trip to avoid times of high visitor use
  • Read books and maps, check online and talk to people before you go

2. Stick to trails and camp overnight right 

To protect fragile areas such as rocky outcrops with lichens, moss and plants; shoreline and tide pool areas, and native prairies; and  respect private property:

  • Walk and ride in the middle of designated trails
  • Do not create new trails or trample undeveloped areas
  • Camp only in designated campsites

3. Trash your trash and pick up poop

Human waste and garbage can be harmful to plants and animals, visitors, and the marine environment.  To protect wildlife, human health and keep water clean:

  •   Pack it in, Pack it out. Put litter–even crumbs, peels and cores–in bags and dispose of in garbage cans 
  •   Plan ahead and use toilets
  •   If toilets are not available, bury human waste in a small hole 6-8 inches deep and 200 feet or 70 big steps from water. Pack out toilet paper in ziplock bags and dispose of it in a garbage can
  •   Use a bag to pack out your pet’s poop to a garbage can
  •   Do not put soap, food, human or pet waste in the Salish Sea, lakes or  streams

4. Leave it as you find it

To allow others to enjoy the natural beauty of the San Juan Islands and keep visitors safe:

  • Leave plants, rocks and historical items as you find them so others can enjoy them
  • Treat living plants with respect. Carving, hacking or peeling trees or plants may kill them
  • Avoid introducing or transporting non-native plants and animals

5. Be careful with fire

To keep your fire from harming plants, animals or other visitors:

  • Use a camp stove for cooking. Stoves are easier to cook on and create less impact than a fire
  • Use only existing fire rings and keep your fire small
  • Burn all wood to ash and be sure the fire is completely out and cold before you leave
  • Pack out all trash and food. A fire is not a garbage can
  • Purchase firewood from a local vendor or gather on site if allowed
  • Bringing firewood from home can harbor tree killing insects and diseases

6. Keep wildlife wild

Stressing or feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers. To keep wildlife healthy:

  • Observe wildlife from a distance and never approach, feed, or follow them
  • Learn and follow the ‘Be Whale Wise’ guidelines for boating around marine mammals
  • Protect wildlife and your food by securely storing your meals and trash.
  • Control pets at all times, or leave them at home
  • Know and follow leash rules and pet prohibitions for the area you are visiting
  • Give wildlife extra space during sensitive times (e.g., mating, nesting, raising young, or winter)

 7. Be considerate of others

To increase the enjoyment of the outdoors for all visitors: 

  • Keep your pet under control to protect it, other visitors, and wildlife
  • Yield to other users on the trail
  • Leave generous space between you and other visitors
  • Avoid making loud noises or yelling
  • You will also see more wildlife if you are quiet

Find out more at the national Leave No Trace website.

Thank you for helping us to conserve our natural and cultural heritage.  The more you know about the area, the more fun you’ll have!

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