Volunteers picking up trash near the Colorado River

Play Your Part: Leave No Trace in Austin’s Parks

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Hello, Texas Summer! ⁠As temperatures increase, park usage does too, so it’s even more important to make sure we clean up after ourselves in our parks. After Memorial Day, unfortunately, lots of Austin’s beautiful greenspace was left in a mess, which makes it much harder for others to enjoy and for the city to maintain!

As Austin Parks Foundation pushes the city of Austin to provide more funding for our parks, we all need to work together to make sure we keep our parks clean by leaving no trace.

About “Leave No Trace”

Leaving no trace is more than just a catchy slogan! Leave No Trace is an outdoor ethics initiative to keep natural areas clean and sustain the plants and wildlife native to those spaces. The Leave No Trace initiative works to educate communities about taking proper care of their parks to protect the land without exhausting our resources.

How Do I Leave No Trace?

With over 300 parks within Austin, we have our work cut out for us to push for important park maintenance. However, there are a few things we can do while enjoying our parks to help improve our outdoor spaces. Here are ways to honor the seven principles of the Leave No Trace initiative:

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare

Make sure to consider the weather, terrain of the natural area, and any rules or regulations of the park or greenspace beforehand! Look  at the City of Austin’s Park Rules before you leave and check on the latest park news on the Austin Parks and Recreation Department website.

2. Travel on Durable Surfaces

Stay on existing trails while hiking. Hiking on rocks and gravel rather than grass and vegetation also helps leave no trace.

3. Dispose of Waste Properly

Help Austin Parks Foundation Leave No Trace in our parks!Pack it in, pack it out! Many parks have bins available for trash and recycling, so it’s important to make sure your trash ends up in the right place. Don’t forget to bring bags for any trash, leftover food, or pet waste!

4. Leave What You Find

Preserve outdoor spaces by trying not to damage trees, plants, and other natural objects. Avoid digging trenches, introducing nonnative species, and make sure to preserve cultural and historical artifacts.

5. Don’t Play With Fire!

Before heading outdoors, take a look at the Burn Ban Status to stay in the clear. If possible, bring a camp stove or use on-site grills. Never leave a fire unattended, and fully extinguish it before leaving the site.

6. Respect Wildlife

Give native wildlife space when in an outdoor area. It’s important not to disturb or feed animals, store your food in places that wildlife cannot access, and avoid making loud noises or sudden movements around them. Make sure any pets are on leashes!

7. Be Considerate of Others

Treat others respectfully, yield to other trail uses, and avoid loud voices and noises to preserve the natural experience for everyone else.

If we all work individually to keep and preserve the natural beauty of our parks and greenspaces, more Austinites can enjoy the outdoors this summer. Keep these seven principles in mind the next time you head out to a park!

About Austin Parks Foundation

Austin Parks Foundation is a non-profit organization partnering with the Austin community to enhance people’s lives. Our mission is to ensure that every Austinite has access to a great park through volunteerism, innovative programming, advocacy and financial support.

We’re known for our Movies in the Park, our bi-annual flagship volunteer event, It’s My Park Day. Were' also the presenting partner and beneficiary of Austin City Limits Music Festival at Zilker Park. Donate here if you’d like to support our mission of People + Parks! Thank you for helping Austin's parks, trails and green spaces.