backpack

Wildland Ethics – Pack It In, Pack It Out

backpackPick up and pack out all of your litter. Trash and litter have no place in the backcountry. On the way out-when your pack is light try to pick up litter left by others.

Reduce litter at the source. When preparing for your trip, repackage food into reusable containers or remove any excess packaging. This simple practice lessens the chance that you will inadvertently leave litter behind.

Trash. Trash is the inorganic waste brought into the backcountry, usually from overly packaged products. It is best to pack out all your trash even if it appears burnable. Much of the “paper” pack aging used today is actually lined with non-burnable foil or plastic. Tin and aluminum cans, plastic, tin foil and glass must always be packed out.

packing

Wildland Ethics – Properly Dispose of What You Can’t Pack Out

packingAs visitors to the backcountry, we create certain types of waste which usually cannot be packed out. These include human waste and waste water from cooking and washing.

Human waste. Proper disposal of human waste is important to avoid pollution of water sources, the spread of disease and the aesthetic consequences to those who might see it. Burying human feces in the correct location and manner is the most effective practice for avoiding these problems.

fire-uses

Wildland Ethics – Use Fire Responsibly

fire-usesThe use of campfires in the backcountry was once a necessity and is now steeped in history and tradition. This tradition is so entrenched in our minds that for some the thought of going on a backcountry camping trip and not having a fire is almost unthinkable. Yet the natural appearance of many areas has been compromised by the overuse of fires and the ever-increasing demand for firewood. The development of versatile and efficient campstoves has facilitated a shift away from the traditional fire, making them essential equipment for minimum-impact camping. Stoves are fast and flexible, and they eliminate firewood availability as a concern in campsite selection. If you typically depend on fires as a light source, consider using a light-weight candle lantern as an alternative. The most important factors in determining whether or not to have a fire are:

Wildland Ethics – Plan Ahead and Prepare

Carefully designing your trip to match your expectations and outdoor skill level is the first step in being prepared . Make inquiries with local land managers about the character and popularity of your intended destination. Many wilderness areas suffer from overuse and it is important to seek alternative locations when possible. The information gathered can assist you in planning your clothing, equipment and fuel.

backcountry-hiking

Concentrate Impacts in High-Use Areas

backcountry-hikingConcentrating use in popular or high-use areas is a simple and effective method to reduce the impact of a backcountry visit. Main travel corridors and popular destinations usually have well-established trails and campsites. Continued use causes little additional impact to these features although overcrowding diminishes the overall experience for some.

Respect other visitors’ need for solitude. When traveling in the backcountry, care is required to minimize disturbance of other visitors. The feeling of solitude is enhanced when contacts are infrequent, party size is small and behavior is unobtrusive.

hiking group

Wildland Ethics – Spread Use and Impact in Pristine Areas

hiking groupPristine areas are typically remote, seldom visited and have few obvious impacts. Visit pristine areas only if you are committed to and knowledgeable in the techniques required to Leave No Trace in that particular area. Rocky places with shallow soils, sandy areas, low heath balds, cliffs, bogs and wetlands often harbor residual populations of endangered plants and animals in the Southeast. Avoid travel through these areas altogether.

Hike in small groups. The impacts associated with cross country travel are minimized when group size is small, routes are carefully selected to avoid fragile terrain and critical wildlife habitat, and special care is taken to avoid disturbance. If you are traveling with a large group, hike in groups of no more than 4-6 people.

camping

Camp organization and cleanliness

campingCamp organization and cleanliness take on heightened significance in bear country. The primary concern here is safety, both for the visitor and the bear. Although black bears are shy and usually prefer to stay away from people, a bear can be a very dangerous animal if provoked or habituated to humans. Personal safety is the first priority, but safety of the bear is also a concern. Once habituated to people-usually because it associates people with food-it can rapidly become a “problem” bear and will have to be dealt with accordingly, ultimately at the expense of its life.

Where bears are present, carefully follow the practices listed below. If a bear encounter occurs, it should be reported to the appropriate wildlife agency or land management office.

camp-fire

Minimize Use and Impact of Fires Part 2

Selecting a Leave No Trace fire site.

camp-fireAt established sites, use existing fire rings. These help concentrate the impact associated with fires and keep surrounding areas in more natural condition. Constructing new rock rings for campfires or building fires against boulders or ledges is inappropriate as it blackens rocks and disturbs underlying soils. If you choose to have a fire where there are no existing fire rings, you must take the extra responsibility to learn and practice stringent Leave No Trace techniques, such as those outlined below.

use-of-fire

Minimize Use and Impact of Fires

use-of-fireCampfire impacts are among the most common and obvious recreational impacts in wildlands. In backcountry areas of the Northeast, campfires are generally discouraged, and in any of the region’s alpine zones, fires should never be built. Backcountry visitors should always carry the appropriate equipment for warmth, shelter and light, and a lightweight campstove for all cooking needs.

This recommendation against a once-traditional part of back country camping is due to ecological and aesthetic problems at recreation sites caused by overuse and abuse of fires and wood supplies. Because of these cumulative impacts, some land managers and owners have prohibited the use of campfires. Others allow their use in designated sites, or by permit only.