Wildland Ethics – Avoid Places Where Impact Is Just Beginning

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.

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.