Borrego Sun - Since 1949

ABF-ABDSP Leave No Trace Initiative


Last updated 8/3/2022 at 11:17am

The Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (Anza-Borrego) and the Anza-Borrego Foundation (ABF) are excited to announce a partnership with the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics.

Thousands of visitors from around the world enjoy California's largest state park each year for a variety of recreational outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, star gazing, wildlife viewing, equestrian use and camping to name a few. The Leave No Trace initiative aims to introduce new and returning outdoor enthusiasts to the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace tailored specifically for Anza-Borrego and other desert public lands.

Leave No Trace Seven Principles:

1. Plan ahead and Prepare

Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit, including local County and Park COVID-19 specific regulations.

Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.

Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.

Repackage food to minimize waste.

Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.

Report any injured wildlife, resource damage, or illegal activities to Park Headquarters at 760-767-4037.

2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel or sand.

Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from dry lakes, streams and wetlands.

Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.

Avoid stepping on vegetation and sensitive desert environment.

In popular areas:

Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.

Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.

In pristine areas:

Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.

Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.

3. Dispose of Waste Properly

Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.

Desert environment is particularly delicate and not suited for decomposition. For human waste, we encourage the use of WAG (waste alleviation gel) bags or other portable toilet options to keep the desert clean. WAG bags can be safely disposed of in regular trash.

All waste, including hygiene products and toilet paper, must be carried out and disposed in trash bins at home or trash receptacles provided by the Park.

4. Leave What You Find

Preserve the past, do not touch or disturb cultural and historic structures and artifacts.

Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.

Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.

Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.

5. Minimize Campfire Impacts

Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the environment. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.

Illegal ground fires are prohibited. Campfires are allowed in camper-provided metal containers with bottom and sides, or in Park-provided metal fire rings in primitive campsites.

Do not collect firewood or dried brush in the Park. Bring firewood from local County to lower risk of exposure to pests.

Burn all wood and coals to ash. Put out campfires completely.

Do not burn trash or dispose of trash in fire rings. Pack out ashes with you when using a fire pan to leave no trace.

Keep fires small or consider forgoing a campfire to enjoy the dark skies in remote areas of our designated International Dark Sky Park.

6. Respect Wildlife

Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow, approach or otherwise harass wildlife.

Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.

Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.

Do not approach or attempt to move sick or injured wildlife. Please report any encounters to Park Staff.

7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.

Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.

Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.

Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

"One of the main goals of the Leave No Trace initiative is to ensure that our staff and partners are not just educating visitors about the park rules, but showing visitors how they can be applied to protect the park's resources for current and future generations," said Acting District Superintendent Ray Lennox.

"We are thankful to the Anza-Borrego Foundation for leading this effort and for their support in working with the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics to adapt the Seven Principles for our park."

Timely Initiative with Expected High Visitation in Upcoming Season

California State Parks and partners are expecting high visitation and increased use with the beginning of the desert season. The Leave No Trace initiative will help provide different options around activities such as camping and campfire use, human waste disposal and regular trash to help alter behavior to first time visitors, and visitors who may be familiar with dry camping but not in more sensitive desert environments. The goal is to communicate the seven Leave No Trace Principles in the park through various outreach efforts such as two Anza-Borrego Desert-specific designs, one of our wind caves and one depicting native plants to our desert, helping promote these best wilderness practices in our park and supporting advocacy and education.

Other outreach efforts will include videos highlighting individual principles and other efforts. Stay tuned here, on social media and through our e-connections!

Anza-Borrego Foundation (ABF) is the official nonprofit partner of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. We provide financial support for Park programs, acquire land for conservation in and around the Park, educate the public about the Park's resources and support research relevant to our region.

Our small, dedicated staff – together with the board and volunteers – works hard to protect this desert we love. We also want others to treasure what Anza-Borrego Desert State Park has to offer, so we host education programs year-round for both youth and adults. Whether it's a guided hike, an archaeology lecture or an environmental education program for socioeconomically disadvantaged students, we believe conservation of the Park is reached by cultivating an understanding for and appreciation of this land and its valuable resources.

In addition to raising private funds to support Park programs and projects, ABF sells an extensive selection of guidebooks, clothing and other products in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park's Visitor Center and State Park Store.

We also rely heavily on donations to keep our programs thriving. For example, with your support we are able to do the following:

- Acquire about 1,000 new acres a year for the Park

- Teach 8,500 California students annually through our PORTS program

- Serve 1,500 adults yearly with our guided hikes, science lectures and other offerings

- Fund over $200,000 in grants over the past 10 years to support research in the Park

- Keep the official Visitor Center open year-round so that millions of people can have a richer experience of Anza-Borrego

- And much more!

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