Minimum Impact Camping

leave nothing Today is Monday, August 5, 2013.

“Leave nothing but footprints; take nothing but pictures; kill nothing but time.”

These days there is a lot of garbage left at parks and campsites, not only by campers, but also by people who attend outdoor festivals and concerts.  In some areas, there has also been a big problem with homeless people who do long-term camping in our national parks and other wilderness areas.   Minimum impact camping is also called minimal impact, low impact, or “leave no trace” camping.  Basically, it means that your presence at a campsite has very little effect on the soil, the water, the plants and the animals.  Whether you are camping, hiking, hunting, fishing, or boating, the goal is to leave very little or no evidence that you were ever there.  This means not picking the flowers, picking up and taking away all your trash, and not damaging the landscape in any other way.

Those who use campsites and wilderness areas are asked to consider three things when looking at their relationship with the earth.  How much use can the land stand before it is permanently damaged?  How much use can the plants and animals stand before the are permanently diminished?   How many people can there be in the area before it is considered too crowded?  Here are some tips for minimum impact when you are camping.

Getting There

1.  Plan your trip in advance.  Try to do your camping as close to home as possible to minimize your use of gasoline and the and the emissions from your vehicle.  Consider renting heavier equipment close to the campsite, to reduce the weight your vehicle has to carry.

2.  Carpool to a campsite whenever possible.

3.  Bring bicycles to your campsite to minimize your use of the car.

At the Campsite

1.  So-called “dispersed camping,” camping outside of officially developed sites, is heavily discouraged.  There has been a problem in recent years with dispersed camping by homeless people in areas outside of towns and cities.  Park your car and set up your tent on durable surfaces in established campsites.  Camp on gravel or sand bars, if necessary.

2.  Stay on established trails, and avoid cutting new hiking trails.

3.  Do not dig trenches, hammer nails into trees,  pick wildflowers, cut pine branches for sleeping,  or otherwise alter the land.  Do not dig or dam up rivers, lakes or hot springs.

4.  Only cook in established cooking areas or fire pits.

5.  Do not collect rocks or plants.  The best souvenirs of your trip are photographs and your own memories.

6.  Carry enough trash bags to collect all your garbage and food scraps and take them away from the campsite.  This includes cigarette butts and even things that are touted as “biodegradable.”  Pick up garbage left by previous campers, as well.     Never sink cans or bottles in the lake or river.   Do not leave food bits around to attract insects.

7.  Use toilet facilities provided.  If you cannot do this, choose an area well away from a water source and hiking trails.  Dig a shallow trench to bury your waste, if that is allowed, but you should not try to bury toilet paper.  Some campsites require campers to carry away all used toilet paper and solid human waste.  Clean up after your dog the same way you clean up after yourself.   If available, use approved dump stations for this waste.

8.  If you are traveling with a baby, consider using the old-fashioned cloth diapers that you fold yourself, and wash them as necessary, rather than carrying disposables.

9.  Check to see whether fires are permitted in the area.  Remember that during drought conditions, fires are usually prohibited.  Try to minimize or eliminate your use of fires.  Bring a camp stove, instead.  Gas stoves are ideal.

10.  If you must have a fire, use an established fire pit, and  only add wood to the fire if it will burn completely.  Only ashes should be left when you are done.  Never use river rocks around a campfire, because water absorbed into the rocks becomes superheated near the fire and can cause the rocks to explode.  Bring your own firewood.  Do not cut firewood from surrounding vegetation.  (Some plants may look dead but they may simply be dormant.)  Completely extinguish the fire with water and mix the ashes well, then take all the fire residue out of the camp with you.

11.  Use biodegradable dish soap, and bring a strainer or a piece of screen to filter the dishwater before dumping it out, to avoid dumping food bits that will attract insects and animals.

12. Use only biodegradable soap for bathing, and try to eliminate the need for bathing by going swimming often.  Do not bathe in a river or lake.

13.  Do not disturb the animals, and do not offer them food.

When You Leave

1.  Take all garbage with you and dump waste in approved dump stations or take it home.

2.  Do not leave any food bits or human waste at the camp site.

3.  Take all fire residue with you.

4.  Make sure the picnic table has been cleaned of any food residue.

5.  The campsite should look as good as or better than you found it.

This one was published a little late, but it was at least begun on Monday.  🙂


Filed under Uncategorized

4 responses to “Minimum Impact Camping

  1. Pingback: The Nomadic Jalopy

  2. Pingback: LEAVE NO TRACE | Tri's Totally Teton

  3. Pingback: Suitable recreational activities | Exhibit-Tech

  4. Pingback: Complete Guide to Camping in Grand Teton National Park

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s