Lake Ouachita Leave No Trace Camping


Camping around Lake Ouachita and on the Islands of Lake Ouachita without a trace are signs of a responsible expert outdoorsman who cares for the environment.

Check with the Corp-of Engineers to be sure of the proper Island Camping techniques.
Protect the Water, Land and Islands of Lake Ouachita - Remember that while you are there, you are a visitor.

When you visit a friend you are always careful to leave that person's home just as you found it. You would never think of dropping litter on the carpet, chopping down trees in the yard, putting soap in the drinking water, or marking your name on the living room wall.
When you visit the islands, the same courtesy applies.

Leave No Trace" Information 800-332-4100 or Visit the Leave No Trace Home Site

Lake Ouachita Leave No Trace Principles:

Leave everything just as you found it
Plan Ahead and Prepare
Pack It In, Pack It Out
Leave What You Find
Minimize Site Alterations
Minimize Campfire Use
Respect Wildlife

The Leave No Trace principles might not seem important at first glance, but their value is apparent when considering the combined effects of millions of outdoor visitors.
Leaving no trace is everyone's responsibility.


Proper trip planning and preparation helps campers accomplish goals safely and enjoyably while minimizing damage to natural and cultural resources. Campers who plan ahead can avoid unexpected situations, and minimize their impact by complying with area regulations.

Proper planning consist of obtaining information concerning geography and weather and preparing accordingly. Properly located campsites because campers allotted enough time to reach their destination. Appropriate campfires and minimal trash because of careful meal planning and food repackaging and proper equipment Comfortable and fun camping and hiking experiences because the outing matches the skill level of the participants.

Camp and Travel on Durable Surfaces Damage to land occurs when visitors trample vegetation or communities of organisms beyond recovery. The resulting barren areas develop into undesirable trails, campsites, and soil erosion.

Concentrate your activities where vegetation is already absent. Minimize resource damage by using existing trails and selecting designated or existing campsites.
Always choose the most durable surfaces available: rock, gravel, dry grasses.


This simple yet effective saying motivates backcountry visitors to take their trash home with them. It makes sense to carry out of the backcountry the extra materials taken there by your group or others. Minimize the need to pack out food scraps by carefully planning meals. Accept the challenge of packing out everything you bring.


Help prevent contamination of natural water sources: After straining food particles, properly dispose of dishwater by dispersing at least 200 feet (about 80 to 100 strides for a youth) from springs, streams, and lakes. Use biodegradable soap 200 feet or more from any water source.

  • Human Waste:

Proper disposal of human waste is important to avoid pollution of water sources, avoid the negative implications of someone else finding it, minimize the possibility of spreading disease, and maximize the rate of decomposition.

In most locations, burying human feces in the correct manner is the most effective method to meet these criteria.

Cat-holes are the most widely accepted method of waste disposal. Locate cat-holes at least 200 feet (about 70 adult steps) from water, trails and camp. Select an inconspicuous site where other people will be unlikely to walk or camp. With a small garden trowel, dig a hole 6-8 inches deep and 4-6 inches in diameter. The cat-hole should be covered and disguised with natural materials when finished. If camping in the area for more than one night, or if camping with a large group, cat-hole sites should be widely dispersed.


Allow others a sense of discovery: Leave rocks, plants, animals, archaeological artifacts, and other objects as you find them. It is illegal to remove artifacts from Lake Ouachita.


Do not dig tent trenches or build lean-tos, tables, or chairs. Never hammer nails into trees, hack at trees with hatchets or saws, or damage bark and roots by tying horses to trees for extended periods. Replace surface rocks or twigs that you cleared from the campsite. On high-impact sites, clean the area and dismantle inappropriate user-built facilities such as multiple fire rings and log seats or tables.


Some people would not think of camping without a campfire. Yet the naturalness of many areas has been degraded by overuse of fires and increasing demand for firewood. Lightweight camp stoves make low-impact camping possible by encouraging a shift away from fires. Stoves are fast, eliminate the need for firewood, and make cleanup after meals easier.

If you build a fire, the most important consideration is the potential for resource damage. Whenever possible, use an existing campfire ring in a well-placed campsite. True Leave No Trace fires are small. Use dead and downed wood no larger than an adult's wrist. When possible, burn all wood to ash and remove all unburned trash and food from the fire ring. If a site has two or more fire rings, dismantle all but one and scatter the materials in the surrounding area. Be certain all wood and campfire debris is dead out.


Quick movements and loud noises are stressful to animals. Considerate campers practice these safety methods:

Observe wildlife from afar to avoid disturbing them. Give animals a wide berth, especially during breeding, nesting, and birthing seasons. Store food securely and keep garbage and food scraps away from animals so they will not acquire bad habits. Help keep wildlife wild. You are too close if an animal alters its normal activities.



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