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  • Steven Boldt

Leave No Trace and RightOnTrek Form a Partnership to Promote Sustainable Wilderness Adventures

As part of our ongoing commitment to conservation, preservation, and sustainability, we are incredibly excited to announce a new partnership with the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. Both organizations believe it’s our duty to preserve natural wilderness areas for generations to come. By working together, RightOnTrek will implement Leave No Trace ideals into our adventure tools and services, jointly create new education content, courses, and resources, and push for wider adoption of LNT’s Seven Principles across the outdoor recreation community.

The Leave No Trace concept began in the 1960’s and 70’s as America fell in love with hiking, backpacking, and the great outdoors. Visits to primitive areas tripled over that time and while the US Forest Service (USFS) and Park Rangers were thrilled with the new interest, they quickly realized that regulation was not enough to stop the degradation that was starting to take place in these once pristine areas - Jim Bradley, a USFS wilderness specialist, wrote in the late 1970’s that an educational approach was needed as well.

A Shenandoah National Park Ranger enjoying the leaves changing colors in the fall.
A Shenandoah National Park Ranger taking it all in.

The USFS developed multiple programs over the next decade, introducing Wilderness Information Specialists, a ‘No-Trace’ program, and in 1987, together with the National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management, began distributing a pamphlet entitled ‘Leave No Trace Land Ethics’. Unfortunately these early educational programs were held back by a lack of funding so nation-wide implementation wasn’t possible.

The USFS, in 1990, approached the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) to partner on the development of a science-based training and leadership program that focused on a singular message - Leave No Trace. NOLS held the first LNT Master Educator course in 1991 in Wyoming’s Wind River Mountains for USFS staff.

The partnership and program, finding its footing over the next couple years, began to interest other national agencies. By 1994, the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had signed on and committed to providing direction and implementation. Leave No Trace simultaneously gained industry support, as the Outdoor Recreation Coalition of America and the Sporting Goods Manufacturing Association, joined the consortium and advocated for the creation of a non-profit organization.

Leave No Trace, Inc. was registered in 1994 as an educational non-profit program. The designation brought rapid recognition and acceptance to the program within the tight knit outdoors community. LNT was able to develop and promote an educational model in conjunction with their public and private partners to include Master Educator Courses, Trainer Courses, Awareness Workshops, and Youth Education Programs. They have been implementing and refining this multi-faceted approach ever since.

Outdoor recreation is clearly becoming more and more popular across the nation and when looking at National Park visitation rates, the numbers don’t lie. In 1920, just over 1 million people visited the parks, by 1970, the number had increased exponentially to 168 million visits. By 2019, the National Park Service reported a staggering 327 million visits. Pressure on the park’s resources and pristine wilderness areas has never been greater.

A Park Ranger holding a praying mantis.
A Park Ranger holding a praying mantis.

Despite their incredible efforts, Leave No Trace research shows that 9 out 10 people that visit the nation’s outdoor areas are uninformed about the organization and ways to minimize their impact. Visitors are often unaware that certain behaviors and actions leave a direct, adverse impact on the environment and the wildlife. The thought, ‘I’m just one person, if I go off trail and trample those few plants or accidentally drop that wrapper, it’s not a big deal’ no longer applies. When 300 million people think that same way, the degradation to our natural areas is swift and distressing.

RightOnTrek and Leave No Trace believe that practical education starts with an understanding of human presence and impact, and teaches how to pursue outdoor recreation activities with awareness, appreciation, and embrace of the most sustainable practices. We believe the ideal opportunity to influence people’s attitudes and behaviors is during the adventure planning phase - when they are actively researching where to go, how to prepare, and what to bring.

RightOnTrek and Leave No Trace will steward environmentalism together in multiple ways. We will incorporate LNT’s research, educational content, and 7 Principles into our Trail Finder, Meal Planner, and Blog Articles.

As part of our ongoing efforts, we have created the leadership role of Chief Sustainability Officer to remain true to our commitment to protect and restore our environment. From eco-friendly paper, ink, and cleaners, to our work remote policy, our CSO takes a hard look at the products and practices we use. Our Adventure Meals have been thoughtfully packaged in fully compostable materials - their proper disposal doesn’t create more trash, it creates better soil. The base ingredients we build our Meals from and the products in our Meal Kits have been carefully researched and vetted to be both as sustainable and local as possible. Leave No Trace will play an integral role in crafting language and appearance of our Adventure Meal packaging to promote and spread the 7 Principles.

Eric Boxer clearing a section of the Buckeye Trail in Ohio.
Eric clearing a section of the Buckeye Trail in Ohio.

“We recognized from the beginning the importance of partnering with Leave No Trace. Their mission to minimize impact and protect the backcountry aligns with RightOnTrek’s efforts to open up the wilderness to millions of newcomers with net zero environmental impact of their presence and activities. By working together, we are aiming to convert all outdoors enthusiasts into avid practitioners and advocates of the Seven Principles of Leaving No Trace,” says Eric Boxer, Chief Sustainability Officer at RightOnTrek.

Furthermore we have committed to sending employees to LNT’s Master Certification Course. In turn, we will hold LNT training sessions with the rest of the RightOnTrek team, host educational workshops with other nonprofits and organizations, and promote the Leave No Trace Sponsorship program. We have held, and will continue to hold, webinar sessions to encourage and explain safe, sustainable activities in the wilderness. Topics include food preparation and storage, camping, interacting with wildlife, and maintaining personal hygiene, among others. We are sure our partnership with Leave No Trace will only enhance the quality of these events, broadening their reach and building a stronger community - a win-win for wilderness areas and adventurers everywhere!

We also jointly facilitate volunteer days for non profits and trail organizations in an effort to increase awareness, maintain and restore trails, and encourage community engagement. We will encourage and help outdoor enthusiasts to find and respect the trails less traveled - by spreading out and reducing our impact we can ensure our wilderness areas will be protected for years to come.

As the summer season gets into full swing and we all look forward to visiting our parks, forests, wilderness, and recreation areas, we ask all adventures to consider their impact on the environment, and practice Leave No Trace principles.




Steven lives in Portland, OR and is the Head of Wilderness Data and Community for RightOnTrek. When he’s not hiking, biking, or snowboarding in the Cascades, you can catch him eating a sushi burrito and drinking a beer at one of Portland’s food truck pods.


How do you incorporate Leave No Trace into your outings? Drop a line to or comment below!


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