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Scott Brady
07-16-2008, 10:34 PM
From Tread Lightly:

TREAD LIGHTLY WHEN CAMPING: 10 WAYS TO REDUCE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT


As more Americans opt for inexpensive, local vacations, public land agencies are experiencing a rise in overnight visits in some areas. Rangers and nonprofit groups are reminding these campers to find ways to minimize their impact on the environment when in the outdoors.

“We are happy to have any new visitors in our forests,” said Jamie Schwartz, Outdoor Ethic's Program Manager for the US Forest Service. “Along with their tents and sleeping bags, we are asking campers to bring along a good set of outdoor ethics when they come.”

The nonprofit organization “Tread Lightly!” has released ten ways visitors can be more environmentally sensitve when camping on public land.

1. Whenever possible, use existing campsites. Camp on durable surfaces and place tents on a non-vegetated area. Do not dig trenches around tents.
2. Camp a least 200 feet from water, trails, and other campsites.
3. Pack out what you pack in. Carry a trash bag and pick up litter left by others.
4. Repackage snacks and food in baggies. This reduces weight and the amount of trash to carry out.
5. For cooking, consider using a camp stove instead of a campfire. Camp stoves leave less of an impact on the land.
6. Observe all fire restrictions. If you must build a fire—use existing fire rings, build a mound fire, or use a fire pan. Use only fallen timber for campfires. Do not cut standing trees. Clear a ten-foot diameter area around the site by removing any grass, twigs, leaves and extra firewood. Also, make sure there aren't any tree limbs or flammable objects hanging overhead.
7. Allow the wood to burn down to a fine ash, if possible. Pour water on the fire and drown all embers until the hissing sound stops. Stir the campfire ashes and embers until everything is wet and cold to the touch. If you don’t have water, use dirt.
8. Detergents, toothpaste and soap harm fish and other aquatic life. Wash 200 feet away from streams and lakes. Scatter gray water so it filters through the soil.
9. In areas without toilets, use a portable latrine if possible, and pack out your waste. If you don’t have a portable latrine, you may need to bury your waste. Human waste should be disposed of in a shallow hole six to eight inches deep at least 200 feet from water sources, campsites, or trails. Cover and disguise the hole with natural materials. It is recommended to pack out your toilet paper. High use areas may have other restrictions, so check with a land manager.
10. Following a trip, wash your gear and support vehicle to reduce the spread of invasive species.

More information can be found at www.treadlightly.org.

TheGillz
07-17-2008, 12:01 AM
Sounds so simple doesn't it? Man I was frustrated w/ some of my friends last weekend....sigh.

Carlyle
07-17-2008, 12:07 AM
I always pack out my beer cans and recycle them at home.

TheRoadie
07-17-2008, 12:16 AM
But the used beer - that gets scattered and filtered through the soil. Got it.

Paul R
07-17-2008, 12:23 AM
I wish everyone thought of others when outdoors, I have come accross way too many irresponsible outdoor users. :(

That is a great list :)

Redline
07-17-2008, 12:46 AM
Sure is easier to do those things while being 'vehicle dependent' or supported.

77blazerchalet
07-17-2008, 01:02 AM
I'll bet there's a majority of us in this forum who have "an llth way" to be more environmentally sensitive when we camp, where we pack out a small portion of other insensitive clods' trash when we leave a campsite. I've done this for decades, in my little trash bags there's always a bit of room for other peoples' cigarette butts, bottle caps, empty snack sacks, etc. :littlefriend:

calamaridog
07-19-2008, 06:41 AM
No doubt some of the people here pack out more than just small quantities of trash left by other "users".

I'm not sure what to think. More users taxing an already overburdened system and staff. Sounds like a recipe for disaster.

Christophe Noel
07-19-2008, 05:56 PM
Fire rings make me absolutely crazy. I haven't sat around a camp fire in years, as the public has just abused the good old camp fire.

Several years ago I headed up a project to record and photograph all of the fire rings in a local canyon. The canyon is only 2.3 miles long. We found 74 fire rings in that 2.3 mile area. In some places, there were as many as 6 or 8 fire rings visible from one spot. There were fire rings placed a few feet from existing fire rings. We also pulled out 200+ pounds of broken glass and trash from within the rings themselves.

I've seen people brag about how low impact they are only to leave behind a big black hole of a fire pit in their wake.

Camp fires. :(

calamaridog
07-20-2008, 02:33 AM
Camp fires. :(

At established campgrounds, I don't see the problem. At primative sites, you should have to keep it off the ground and pack it out.

BLKNBLU
07-21-2008, 07:03 PM
Sure is easier to do those things while being 'vehicle dependent' or supported.OK. I'll play devil's advocate here. With a vehicle supported trip folks can bring so much more crap along. Tents, tables, chairs, stoves, camp kitchens, trailers, ATVs, generators, gas cans, etc. that there is much more opportunity for damage to occur. I come from a backpacking background where you are always considering what you are carrying. Everything needs to have multiple uses and you have much less to do damage with.

That said, I'm sure both groups have their responsible and irresponsible factions. Plenty of light-treading car campers and ATVer's out there as well as plenty of goofus backpackers that won't pack out TP (I've seen it) or don't bury poop because they "forgot" the trowel. (whats wrong with a pointy rock buddy?)



Fire rings make me absolutely crazy. I haven't sat around a camp fire in years, as the public has just abused the good old camp fire.

Several years ago I headed up a project to record and photograph all of the fire rings in a local canyon. The canyon is only 2.3 miles long. We found 74 fire rings in that 2.3 mile area. In some places, there were as many as 6 or 8 fire rings visible from one spot. There were fire rings placed a few feet from existing fire rings. We also pulled out 200+ pounds of broken glass and trash from within the rings themselves.

I've seen people brag about how low impact they are only to leave behind a big black hole of a fire pit in their wake.

Camp fires. :(Yeah, campfires and low impact just don't coexist. Unfortunately, many have the ingrained belief that it just isn't camping without a fire. Just look at #'s 6 and 7 on the list, "clear a 10 foot diameter" and "if you don't have water use dirt". Hardly low impact. Also ironic that the "dirt" suggestion comes after advising against trenching around tents. I understand why those two are seperate issues, as fire safety has to trump dry tents, but it just reinforces how high impact campfires are to the land.

I took some acquiantances to Thunder River/Tapeats Creek in the Grand Canyon. For those that haven't been it's a fabulous place, and the guys really enjoyed it. But, if they said it once, they said it a dozen times that it "sucked" not having a campfire.:rolleyes: I think Calamaridog has the right take on it.

H2O_Doc
07-21-2008, 07:50 PM
Don't forget to be careful about stream fordings (how and where) and avoid them where possible (despite the fun of splashing in the water).

BLKNBLU
07-21-2008, 08:22 PM
Don't forget to be careful about stream fordings (how and where) and avoid them where possible (despite the fun of splashing in the water).Do you mean in vehicle or on foot? I understand the vehicle thing, but not on foot. Other than being careful to not crush fragile vegetation or to fall in and have all my gear and dead body pollute the waterway. (I always try to avoid that) If there is more, I need education. Thanks.


BTW here is a link to the previously mentioned Thunder River write up,
http://www.yotatech.com/f100/grand-canyon-walkabout-127420/

kjp1969
07-21-2008, 08:43 PM
At established campgrounds, I don't see the problem. At primative sites, you should have to keep it off the ground and pack it out.

Legit question here: How do you pack out campfire ashes that may still be hot? Metal container on the roof rack?

sandalscout
07-21-2008, 09:05 PM
Legit question here: How do you pack out campfire ashes that may still be hot? Metal container on the roof rack?

Good question, I too am curious how other would do it. I'm considering something like this: http://www.csnstores.com/asp/show_detail.asp?sku=CLM1078&refid=FR49-CLM1078

or maybe even:

http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/templates/links/link.jsp;jsessionid=ZGSGCLNYCDARTLAQBBKCCO3MCAEFKI WE?id=0045756517752a&type=product&cmCat=froogle&cm_ven=data_feed&cm_cat=froogle&cm_pla=0470302&cm_ite=0045756517752a&_requestid=63225

although the second probably has a lower environmental impact, seems somewhat cheesy. However, I think both could be slid into a fireproof/heat shielding sleeve for transport while still pretty warm, and strapped to the roof.

TheRoadie
07-21-2008, 09:15 PM
Legit question here: How do you pack out campfire ashes that may still be hot? Metal container on the roof rack?We use enough water so they're not still hot before we go to bed. By morning - quite cold. Can't imagine trying to carry hot ashes unless there's a horrible water shortage. In that case, you might try an ammo can.

DaveM
07-21-2008, 09:32 PM
At established campgrounds, I don't see the problem. At primative sites, you should have to keep it off the ground and pack it out.

Gotta remember there's a big difference between a heavily used "primitive" site like you might find in Yosemite or Grand Canyon and one that gets far less use and has a greater recovery time.

Additionally, think of the climatic and environmental aspects of varying landscapes. Wet and rainy Pac NW forests wipe away human impact signs a lot faster than the dessert does.

Blanket statements like "At primative sites, you should have to keep it off the ground and pack it out", worry me since they seem purely authoritative and have no relation to the varying degree to which each area recovers based on a)how intensely it was used b)how frequently it is used c)how it's climate effects recovery.

My big gripe with camp fires would focus more on the number of rings you find (already addressed by the fire permit requirements that you use an existing ring whenever possible) and the intensity of the fires. Thats a hard one to regulate and it seems that along with being out doors comes a need in many to create large, hot fires that focus on the active burning of the fuel instead of small fires that focus on creating a small lasting bed of coals.

When I go camping we often cook on our fire (dutch oven) but keep the fire low. Once cooking is over we feed just enough wood to keep a small bed of coals going which provides tons of heat (since you can actually get in close to the fire). The low coals also keep the fire light down which helps you actually enjoy the surroundings, even in the dark.

BLKNBLU
07-21-2008, 10:55 PM
At established campgrounds, I don't see the problem. At primative sites, you should have to keep it off the ground and pack it out.



Gotta remember there's a big difference between a heavily used "primitive" site like you might find in Yosemite or Grand Canyon and one that gets far less use and has a greater recovery time.

Additionally, think of the climatic and environmental aspects of varying landscapes. Wet and rainy Pac NW forests wipe away human impact signs a lot faster than the dessert does.

Blanket statements like "At primative sites, you should have to keep it off the ground and pack it out", worry me since they seem purely authoritative and have no relation to the varying degree to which each area recovers based on a)how intensely it was used b)how frequently it is used c)how it's climate effects recovery.

My big gripe with camp fires would focus more on the number of rings you find (already addressed by the fire permit requirements that you use an existing ring whenever possible) and the intensity of the fires. Thats a hard one to regulate and it seems that along with being out doors comes a need in many to create large, hot fires that focus on the active burning of the fuel instead of small fires that focus on creating a small lasting bed of coals.

When I go camping we often cook on our fire (dutch oven) but keep the fire low. Once cooking is over we feed just enough wood to keep a small bed of coals going which provides tons of heat (since you can actually get in close to the fire). The low coals also keep the fire light down which helps you actually enjoy the surroundings, even in the dark.

Good points. While I still agree with calamaridog's statement in general, you are right in pointing out the characteristic differences in various environments. This is probably true for many "rules". I was thinking about this earlier but chose not to post, but now that the gate is open... how about #1? I don't think that this is always true. Some areas get ruined because they have no opportunity to recover when the same area is used over and over and over again. The soil becomes compacted, food wastes accumulate, everyone pees and poops in the same relative area. But as mentioned, one has to ask, what kind of use, how much use, and what kind of environment. The correct answer can be very different between a five day base camp with a stationary tent, vehicle and many people vs a 1-2 person through hike with 2 people laying on a pad for 8 hours before moving on. Obviously those 2 activities are going to impact the area very differently.

TheGillz
07-21-2008, 11:13 PM
Gotta remember there's a big difference between a heavily used "primitive" site like you might find in Yosemite or Grand Canyon and one that gets far less use and has a greater recovery time.

Additionally, think of the climatic and environmental aspects of varying landscapes. Wet and rainy Pac NW forests wipe away human impact signs a lot faster than the dessert does.

Blanket statements like "At primative sites, you should have to keep it off the ground and pack it out", worry me since they seem purely authoritative and have no relation to the varying degree to which each area recovers based on a)how intensely it was used b)how frequently it is used c)how it's climate effects recovery.

My big gripe with camp fires would focus more on the number of rings you find (already addressed by the fire permit requirements that you use an existing ring whenever possible) and the intensity of the fires. Thats a hard one to regulate and it seems that along with being out doors comes a need in many to create large, hot fires that focus on the active burning of the fuel instead of small fires that focus on creating a small lasting bed of coals.

When I go camping we often cook on our fire (dutch oven) but keep the fire low. Once cooking is over we feed just enough wood to keep a small bed of coals going which provides tons of heat (since you can actually get in close to the fire). The low coals also keep the fire light down which helps you actually enjoy the surroundings, even in the dark.

These are my thoughts exactly.

H2O_Doc
07-22-2008, 11:36 AM
Do you mean in vehicle or on foot? I understand the vehicle thing, but not on foot. Other than being careful to not crush fragile vegetation or to fall in and have all my gear and dead body pollute the waterway. (I always try to avoid that) If there is more, I need education. Thanks.


BTW here is a link to the previously mentioned Thunder River write up,
http://www.yotatech.com/f100/grand-canyon-walkabout-127420/
Sorry; was unclear. In vehicle.

James86004
07-23-2008, 04:29 PM
The last time we camped in the Coconino NF, we called the FS office to ask about fire restrictions. They actually wanted us to have a campfire. The forest was fairly damp, and they wanted us to burn up some of the accumulated dead and down wood while it was safe to do so. Otherwise, they were going to have to do it some other way, perhaps through a prescribed burn.

DaveM
07-23-2008, 04:49 PM
The last time we camped in the Coconino NF, we called the FS office to ask about fire restrictions. They actually wanted us to have a campfire. The forest was fairly damp, and they wanted us to burn up some of the accumulated dead and down wood while it was safe to do so. Otherwise, they were going to have to do it some other way, perhaps through a prescribed burn.

Interesting comment, I have run into the same thing a few times in Stanislaus NF in California. I asked the rangers about wood collecting restrictions at a heavily used dispersed/primitive camp ground. They said there was a ton of dead fall in there every spring, please help yourself to as much as you like! He didn't specifically mention it as a natural fire hazard but I assume that was the idea.

Co-opski
07-28-2008, 10:26 PM
3. Pack out what you pack in. Carry a trash bag and pick up litter left by others.

This is by far my favorite one. Every time I go into the backcountry I take some extra trash out with me. The little things do add up.

Good on ya for making the call to the NF ranger station to find the status on the fire permits. We have areas that have a lot of beetle kill and it is also encouraged to burn the dead fall.

MaddBaggins
10-02-2008, 01:51 AM
I don't recall the last time I camped without a campfire. A nice fire in the evening is part of why I enjoy camping. I don't use the fire for cooking, just pure ambiance. :camping: Otherwise I generally follow most of those rules.

IH8RDS
10-02-2008, 12:31 PM
I don't recall the last time I camped without a campfire. A nice fire in the evening is part of why I enjoy camping. I don't use the fire for cooking, just pure ambiance. :camping: Otherwise I generally follow most of those rules.

I'm with you MaddBaggins.

Hilldweller
10-02-2008, 03:27 PM
The last time we camped in the Coconino NF, we called the FS office to ask about fire restrictions. They actually wanted us to have a campfire. The forest was fairly damp, and they wanted us to burn up some of the accumulated dead and down wood while it was safe to do so. Otherwise, they were going to have to do it some other way, perhaps through a prescribed burn.
That's about how it is in Georgia most of the time; we pick the forest clean.
I've had rangers stop by and bring me deadfall, thanking me for keeping a nice site.

Co-opski
10-02-2008, 08:14 PM
I don't recall the last time I camped without a campfire. A nice fire in the evening is part of why I enjoy camping. I don't use the fire for cooking, just pure ambiance. :camping: Otherwise I generally follow most of those rules.

It is still good to check on fire bands.

My personal pet peeve is seeing multiple stone fire rings in one campsite. Use what was built or supplied there is no need to make a new ring. If it is nasty with garbage and glass clean it out. I have seen areas closed because multiple fire pits turned into the pallet burning party spot. Keep the camp small and it will repel those that want to hoop it up all night.

MaddBaggins
10-02-2008, 11:51 PM
It is still good to check on fire bands.

My personal pet peeve is seeing multiple stone fire rings in one campsite. Use what was built or supplied there is no need to make a new ring. If it is nasty with garbage and glass clean it out. I have seen areas closed because multiple fire pits turned into the pallet burning party spot. Keep the camp small and it will repel those that want to hoop it up all night.

I can only recall 3 times I ever built a fire ring. Those were all on backpacking trips and many miles into the middle of the wilderness. No fire rings were anywhere around so we made one.

I even had fires on the El Camino Del Diablo. I have a Coleman fire pit and took along a bunch of those clean burn logs. Made for a nice little bit of a camp fire at night.

Co-opski
10-03-2008, 09:43 PM
I can only recall 3 times I ever built a fire ring. Those were all on backpacking trips and many miles into the middle of the wilderness. No fire rings were anywhere around so we made one.

I even had fires on the El Camino Del Diablo. I have a Coleman fire pit and took along a bunch of those clean burn logs. Made for a nice little bit of a camp fire at night.

That is awsome. I know that us expo members are some of best stewards in the backcuntry.