Recreational activities can be made even more enjoyable by incorporating the great outdoors into the proceedings. Fresh air and sunshine can increase energy levels, and many people find their mood is boosted simply by spending time in nature.

People who routinely spend time in the great outdoors also can serve as environmental stewards. When camping, hiking or enjoying other activities outside, outdoors enthusiasts should make an effort to impact the surrounding environment as little as possible.

In addition, outdoor enthusiasts can do a number of things to protect the environment while basking in the great outdoors.

Keep groups small.

The smaller the group, the lower the likelihood of producing waste and the less wildlife may be disturbed. Large groups can be noisy, even when they’re trying to be quiet and respectful. This may startle animals away from their homes. Small groups also can be contained more easily, which means camp size will impact the least amount of habitat possible.

Carry in and carry out.

Nature enthusiasts should dispose of trash properly when spending time outdoors. Campers and hikers can bring along an extra bag for garbage, preferably one that can be sealed to reduce the chances of attracting wildlife. Dispose of trash upon leaving the park or nature preserve.

Stick to the beaten path.

The primary goal of a trail system is to provide enjoyment of natural environments with little impact on surrounding areas. If hikers or campers start venturing off the trail in large numbers, the human impact to ecosystems increases.

This may result in soil erosion, disruption to wildlife, widening of trails, muddiness, contamination of bodies of water, and much more, according to hiking resource The Hiking Life. The impact of one individual may be minimal, but that impact increases dramatically with each person who veers off course.

Camp away from water.

It may be tempting to set up a lakeside camp. However, there’s a good chance that wildlife uses it as a source of water and as a place to bathe. The presence of humans alongside bodies of water may scare away wildlife. Give animals space in the early morning and late evening and keep camps away from the water.

Be aware of youngsters.

Young animals in nesting grounds can be cute to observe, but overprotective parents may be nearby. Impeding on a nest may spark aggression in parents, while some parents may abandon their young if they have been touched by humans.

Good nature stewards will keep the environment in mind when enjoying the great outdoors.

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