Leave What You Find
People come to wildlands to enjoy them in their natural state. Allow others the same sense of discovery by leaving plants, rocks, historic, cultural and archaeological artifacts as you find them. We all have a responsibility to anticipate and reduce our social impact upon others and to be considerate towards the wildland environment and its animal inhabitants.
Minimize site alterations. Consider the idea that good campsites are found and not made. Leave the area in as good or even a more natural condition than you found it. Do not construct lean-tos, tables, chairs or other rudimentary improvements. If these sorts of amenities are desired, carry a lightweight camp chair or plan your overnight stays at sites with tent plat forms, shelters or huts. If you find excessive or inappropriate fire rings, log benches or tables, etc. in campsites, it is generally appropriate to clean up and/or dismantle them. If in doubt, consult the managing agency or landowner before acting.
Fire rings in properly located, established campsites where fires are allowed should be left intact for others to use. If dismantled, they will probably be rebuilt, with even more damage resulting.
Avoid damaging trees and plants. Some backcountry camping practices, once favored and suitable, are no longer necessary. This has come about because of the increased use of wildlands, a better understanding of our impacts upon them, and the development of new and better equipment.
To prevent damage to greenery, pad tent lines to prevent girdling young tree trunks; use an inexpensive pad or plastic sheet rather than boughs for sleeping pads or shelters. Do not hammer nails into trees or disfigure them with hatchets and saws.
A hiker picking flowers, leaves, edible berries or plants may seem harmless, but the cumulative effect of many hikers doing so becomes quite damaging. We are never sure just how much “harvesting” has already been done. In high-use or easily accessed wildlands it is best to simply admire flowers and plants, and to take them home in photographs, drawings and memories. In remote areas, sampling a few berries or fiddleheads, or collecting a few leaves may be appropriate, but never do so in alpine zones, in any area where they are scarce or where vegetation will be trampled in the process. The flowers, trees, and colors of the Northeastern forests are best enjoyed where we find them.