Illegal Campsites

10:57 p.m. on August 15, 2011 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,245 reviewer rep
1,312 forum posts

I've been thinking about this, and the LNT vs Bushcraft thread spurred me into bringing it up here.

One thing I notice is that we continue to see well worn campsites, and fire rings, right along trails, and adjacent to creeks and lakes, even in wilderness areas where it's explicitly illegal.  Just last weekend I backpacked in the Ansel Adams Wilderness - where the wilderness permit regulations clearly state that there shall be no campsites or campfires within 100 feet of a creek, lake, or trail.  Yet of course, what do I see at multiple creek crossings?  I see well worn campsites, complete with fire rings, right alongside the trail and within an arm's length of the creek.

I can see pros and cons to these sites .. they're certainly convenient to anyone "thru-hiking" to a more distant destination.  And they do at least tend to contain the impact to a specfic spot.  But on the other hand those spots tend to look pretty bad if they're heavily used.

Maybe people interpret the rules as not applying since a site already exists?

hmmm ... what thoughts do you all have on this?

 

11:48 p.m. on August 15, 2011 (EDT)
102 reviewer rep
2,295 forum posts

My take after decades of camping in the Sierras is some folks do not understand why “the rules” exist, while others think they won’t get caught.  I have heard some hikers claim they didn’t know camping streamside was not permitted (BS it is stated multiple times in the permit documents); while others plaintively said they’ll do whatever they please.

There are no pros to such sites.  The Sierras are a very fragile environment.  I started camping in the 1960s, at the dawn of the health/outdoors movement, before heavy use required quotas and other environmental policies.  Back then certain venues, such as the upper Bishop Lakes, had camps close to the lakes, but the area looked minimally impacted.  By the 1990s these same sites were severely impacted.  Downed wood had been picked clean throughout the entire drainage of the upper basin; the soils of lakeside camps stained gray with all the campfire ash; and the mosses and sedges holding anchoring the soils were killed off, causing erosion, exposing the roots of trees among camp sites, causing many specimens to eventually die.  The shores of these lakes look better today, to the untrained eye at least, but the scars persist nevertheless.  Perhaps these conditions are unavoidable wherever an area gets heavy use, but lakeside the eyesore is more conspicuous.

Lastly, and most significantly, camping too close to water increases the likelihood of polluting said waters.  One reason most water sources in the high Sierra do not require treatment or filtration is minimal human and stock contamination in these waters.  If people camp and do what campers do in too close proximity to lake and stream, they significantly increase the probability of contaminating these waters.

Ed

12:59 a.m. on August 16, 2011 (EDT)
255 reviewer rep
1,469 forum posts

Hey Hall Monitor, If the shoe fits wear it and tromp all over the woods.

But seriously some people do blantantly disregard the respect of nature.

I can't judge here as I regularly, "Stealth Camp" aannnd love it.  but good luck on finding a Fire Ring of mine.

I woud rather camp within a short distacne to a creek and have to hike less, thus crushing less vegetation that a 100yrd hike to water could cause.

It all comes down to respect and consideration of the camper towards the surroundings.

Those that show disrespect should get a good kick in the arse.

8:54 a.m. on August 16, 2011 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
913 forum posts

My take on this would be to establish camp sites/shelters with fire rings (if campfires are allowed) at places near the bad sites and make a trail to the water source and place signs reminding people no camping allowed. Then enforce it.

You also need to explain why a rule is made. When a rule appears to be arbitrary people have a tendency to break it. Explain it in simple language and you will have better compliance. You will always have disrespectful people who don't follow the rules. If you put enough common sense enforcement in place you can discourage the "I'm gonna do what I want" people.

My guess that if you plan your trails well with good scenic views and campsites in places people want to camp at so you concentrate damage  and restrict elsewhere it will allow more people to use an area in a fragile environment and enjoy it. If you try to spread the damage out you will have no pristine areas and there are only so many places you can make a trail or setup a tent. 

9:03 a.m. on August 16, 2011 (EDT)
141 reviewer rep
218 forum posts

ocalacomputerguy said:

My take on this would be to establish camp sites/shelters with fire rings (if campfires are allowed) at places near the bad sites and make a trail to the water source and place signs reminding people no camping allowed. Then enforce it.

You also need to explain why a rule is made. When a rule appears to be arbitrary people have a tendency to break it. Explain it in simple language and you will have better compliance. You will always have disrespectful people who don't follow the rules. If you put enough common sense enforcement in place you can discourage the "I'm gonna do what I want" people.

My guess that if you plan your trails well with good scenic views and campsites in places people want to camp at so you concentrate damage  and restrict elsewhere it will allow more people to use an area in a fragile environment and enjoy it. If you try to spread the damage out you will have no pristine areas and there are only so many places you can make a trail or setup a tent. 

 I have been saying the same thing for years. Here in the Deep South, our National Forests are pretty lax on enforcing any rules on backpackers. You can camp where you want to and believe me, people do. I have made river crossings in AL before where you emerge on the opposite side of the river and practically have to step in a fire ring to come up out of the river and stay on the trail. That site is ALWAYS occupied. I have tried to lobby in both LA and MS for established sites for just this reason.

12:20 p.m. on August 16, 2011 (EDT)
153 reviewer rep
235 forum posts

Explorer Robby said:

 I have tried to lobby in both LA and MS for established sites for just this reason.

Sadly, even if you could get the regulation, with all of the cuts in budgets.  I doubt you could get any enforcement in Louisiana.  No bodies on payroll.

1:29 p.m. on August 16, 2011 (EDT)
14 reviewer rep
318 forum posts

I expect a map of established camp sites would be helpful. Especially if they are off the trail. I can see where people would just camp anywhere if they are unable to find established sites.

I am 100% apposed to fines. There has to be a better way to educate then fine. Fines only encourage witch hunts to look for them and harass people.

Also the fiat paper system has always been doomed to failure from it's inception. It happened twice in France in the seventeen hundreds and it will happen again. History just keeps repeating itself.

1:41 p.m. on August 16, 2011 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
913 forum posts

Even without enforcement it would be far better than nothing.

Maybe you could do the same thing as some places do with animal cruelty officers.  They train then deputize members of the SPCA but don't pay them. The SPCA does.

3:04 p.m. on August 16, 2011 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
1,238 forum posts

Much like the Lone Ranger and Tonto who were never deputized and or given law enforcement duties, we ourself's could done masks (and funky costumes) and in the name of justice, name only of cource.......as we as well would not be deputized or given law enforcment duties, ride in and take all their camping gear away from them while enforming them that this would happen every time they camped in an illigal spot.  As we could not have horses in many places we could, as in the Monty python movies,  have people claping Coconuts to great effect.   We could then donate the confiscated gear to the poor youth of America so that they to could enhance their lives by enjoying the wonders of the outdoors.    Who would like to be my side kick in the trial run?

 

 HI......O......... Silver..........AWAY.

3:15 p.m. on August 16, 2011 (EDT)
141 reviewer rep
218 forum posts

Guyz said:

Explorer Robby said:

 I have tried to lobby in both LA and MS for established sites for just this reason.

Sadly, even if you could get the regulation, with all of the cuts in budgets.  I doubt you could get any enforcement in Louisiana.  No bodies on payroll.

 Our State Parks (the couple that have backpacking spots) do a good job of maintaining established sites. Lake Faussee would be a terrible place without them. Lake Chicot could use a couple more. I was talking to an official at Bouge Chitto last year right before it opened about maybe setting up some established campsites along the trails there as they expand. One can  only hope.

4:58 p.m. on August 16, 2011 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,861 reviewer rep
1,318 forum posts

Almost everywhere that allows backcountry camping clearly states at least 150 ft away from trail, water, road, dwelling etc. For those that choose to violate such regulations, well, there is really only one way to fix em. Give em a good ole punch in the throat, has a good track record of fixin' folks.

5:43 p.m. on August 16, 2011 (EDT)
102 reviewer rep
2,295 forum posts

I agree with the suggestion that compliance is more likely when users understand the reasoning behind a regulation.  I have seen pretty effective trailhead kiosk displays, using graphics to convey important information.  Such application would be pretty effective with before/after pictures of sites, showing the damage done using distressed sites, as well as the effect when sites are allowed to restore.  Such displays can use graphics to draw in readers, then inform them of the pollution issues of camping stream side.

Ed

6:33 p.m. on August 16, 2011 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
913 forum posts

That would be fun apeman.

Maybe we could organize a "flash mob" of trailspace users.

First offense:

Drunken illegal camper: "I don't rightly know what happened officer.  About 30 people just appeared out o' the woods and started dancing around. Next thin' you know they just faded into the woods and not a piece of ar equipment was left. To top it off they took all the beer too! The heathens."

Trailspace member dressed as park ranger: "Sir are you sure you weren't just hallucinating? I don't see evidence of 30 people, just your party. Anyway if you were camping here I would have to fine each of you $500 for camping in an unestablished area."

"$500 dollars?! Uhh maybe I was somewhere else." starts walking off then turns around and exclaims "But what about my camping stuff?"

"Sir maybe you should check up the trail. Maybe you were camped on up the trail where you were supposed to be."

Man hikes up trail to established camp site to find all of his stuff setup with a nice camp fire going but no beer.

Second offense:

Drunken Illegal camper: "It happened again officer! Them people just danced out o' the woods and took our stuff again. Only this time all they left was a cast iron pot of cold burnt beans." 

Trailspace member dressed as park ranger: "Sir were you camped down by the stream? Because it sure looks like you were this time. The only reason I don't fine everybody here $500 a piece is because I didn't actually catch you there so maybe you ought to thank them for stealing all your stuff."

Third offense:

Trailspace member "Up here sir. They're hung like bear bags. Easy now there was a bear here earlier trying to get at them."

Real park ranger: "Good lord.. that bear is still here.  How in the ....  How did they get up there?"

TSSSSRRRT "Come on up guys he wasn't kidding. There really are four people hung up in the trees. Bring the bear spray too."

Trailspace member: "Sir would you mind if just hiked around this mess? I'd like to see if I can make up a little time."

Real Park ranger: "No not at all.  You've done your duty. Thanks for telling us about them."

After formerly drunken illegal campers have been rescued.

Real Park ranger: "Would you like to sit down?"

formerly drunken illegal camper: "No... I'll just stand for now"

Real Park ranger: "Suit yourself. Now how did this happen again?"

formerly drunken illegal camper: "Well we had just set up camp and when it got dark the river spirits rushed in. They just appeared right out of the woods."

Real Park ranger: "River spirits?"

formerly drunken illegal camper: "Yeah.. that's what there leader said they were."

Real Park ranger: "and then what happened?"

formerly drunken illegal camper: "Well they grabbed us an' stripped us an' hog tied us an' stuffed our dirty socks in our mouths to shut us up. You ever had  dirty socks stuffed in your mouth?"

Real Park ranger: "No can't say that I have."

formerly drunken illegal camper: "Well it's humiliating as all get out but I guess it wudn' as bad as what happen't to Bubba"

Real Park ranger: "What happened to him?"

formerly drunken illegal camper: "They stuck his underwear in ta' his mouth! He wud'n wearin' no socks."

Real Park ranger: "How did you end up hanging in the trees?"

formerly drunken illegal camper: "I'm gittin to that. They said that we were violatin' the sacred land next to the water and that we had to be punished."

Real Park ranger: "I see. what did they do next?"

formerly drunken illegal camper: "Well the next thing they did was go through our food and get all the bacon and cook it up. Then they spread some of it aront the camp site and in the bushes. And then they et wat was left and drank our beer"

Real Park ranger: Raises eyebrows "They drank beer?"

formerly drunken illegal camper: "Yea.... and they was pissed there wasn't one for everybody so they poured the bacon grease and our pancake syrup all over us. Then they said they were gonna learn us a lesson about camping next to a stream. Personally I had done learnt ma lesson buttin' I couldn't tell 'em 'cause my socks was in my mouth."

Real Park ranger: "Uh Huh"

formerly drunken illegal camper: "Then they started thro'in ropes over the tree limbs and I thought they was gonna hang us."

Real Park ranger: "They did.....  or somebody did."

formerly drunken illegal camper: "I meant by our necks. I shore was glad when they tied the rope round my feet At first they only hung us a few feet offen the ground but then one of 'em said "Hang 'em higher. We don't want to feed the spirit of the bear. He pooped in the stream yesterday."

Real Park ranger: smirk appears on rangers face.

formerly drunken illegal camper: "I'm not kiddin' yea.  And boy was I glad to when the left they doused the fire an took the food with 'em and a while later I heard this big animal come through the brush an' I could here him crunchin' on the bacon they had left and then I heard him messin around down below me. Man I was skeered. Then he must o' rared up on his back legs cause I could feel his hot breath on my bald spot.  But that wadn' the worst of it tho."

Real Park ranger: "Really? What was"

formerly drunken illegal camper: "The bees.  After it warmed up this mornin the bees came and they smelt that syrup and started eatin' it. Some o' that syrup had gone up my butt crack and a big ole bumble bee went after it and stung me when he couldn't  get back out. That's why I don't want to sit down."

Real Park ranger: "If we catch these uh spirits do you want to press charges?"

formerly drunken illegal camper: "Oh no sir. I don't want ta anger any more spirits. They might hang me from the neck next time. I ain't even gonna camp no more. Just give ma stuff ta the boy scouts ok?"

Real Park ranger: "Sure."

7:04 p.m. on August 16, 2011 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
1,238 forum posts

@ ocalacomputerguy: 

 

 

Dude, to freekin funny!!!!!!

 

Maybe I should be your side kick as you already have this figured out.

 

If this were to be a skit in all classrooms around the nation I would guess that the motto(s) would be.  Just say "no to stream(lake) side camping"......only you can pervent stream side camping, or...........friends don't let friends streamside camp.   Oh the possibilities. The possibilities to teach the young.

Please note that this can be continued if necessary under the thread of "Risky Behavior".........as both the breaking of the stream camping rules and, as well, acting as a vigilante lawman, though I would prefer to be called a" Volunteer Nature Nature Steward" (has a nice ring to it), can and should be considered "risky behavior".  ;-}}>

 

10:07 a.m. on August 17, 2011 (EDT)
153 reviewer rep
235 forum posts

I love it!  Just a few rumors like that could change some behavior, orrrr get you shot..... that could be bad;)

I guess if the parks have the funding, it works.  Most of the outdoor areas in N. Louisiana tend to have less operating funds & fewer rangers to check on their areas.  Volunteer organization is probably the only way some of those great ideas are going to get going.

I tend to hike more in Arkansas, they have some really good volunteer trail groups.  Their trails really show it too! 

Well dang, less time to hike:(

9:25 a.m. on August 22, 2011 (EDT)
119 reviewer rep
456 forum posts

The first trip we took this summer was to a lake in the local National Forest.  In our area the 100' from any water source camp rule applies.  Meaning that all camps are to be at least 100 feet from a water source.

As we arrived at the tail end of the lake and started looking for camp sites, their was several, in the mile and a half that the trail went along the lake side their was a good dozen established camp site.  ALL WITH IN 25 Feet OF THE WATER!  Not a single camp site on the other side of the trail.  We keep hiking and ended up taking the last camp on the trail.  Again, next to the water.  Whats a hiker to do?

Two side notes to this;

  • The area I do most of my hiking in is heavily wooded and has steep slopes. (The Pacific North West) So camp sites are often liminted in aviability.
  • It is generally agreed that it is better to use an existing camp site them to make a new site.  I have actually had this conversation with two different ranges before and both said the same thing.  Use established camp sites, do not make a new site.   One of these conversations was in a camp site not 5 feet from the shore of a lake.

I fully agree with the 100' rule and understand why it's their, but sometimes I think you just don't have a choice.  Several years a go at one lake we went to the forest service was working on restoring several camp sites that were nest to the lake and had them taped off and signs posted.  But since the budget cuts, I rarly even see a ranger out in the field anymore.

Wolfman

November 20, 2014
Quick Reply

Please sign in to reply

 
More Topics
This forum: Older: How has backpacking affected your life? Newer: Little Creek Point
All forums: Older: Wanted: GARUDA Paimihr tent Newer: Gear to Grow...and Give Away