Most campsites can recover completely from a certain level of use. However, a threshold is eventually reached where the regenerative power of the vegetation cannot keep pace with the amount of trampling. Once this threshold is reached the site will deteriorate more rapidly with continued use. This will result in the development of an established campsite with a discernible “barren core.” The threshold for a particular site is affected by many variables, including vegetation type, soil fertility and length of growing season.
Avoid sites and trails that show slight signs of use. Campsites which show slight evidence of use are best left alone to regenerate. In places with no well established campsites, camp on a pristine site; in popular areas always select pre-existing campsites.
Avoid cross-country travel except in less popular areas. Even here, hikers often create faint trails without taking into account the damaging effects of erosion or the overall density of trails in the area. As with slightly used campsites, avoiding faint trails will allow the vegetation to recover eventually.
Allow time for recovery. Over the course of time and non use these campsites and trails will revegetate and revert back to their natural state. With care, both high-use areas and less popular locations will contain only essential campsites and trails.
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