Backcountry Camping Tips for Minimal Impact
If you love camping, then looking after the environment, just makes good sense…
Camping is really a wonderful way to experience nature. And backcountry camping is about as close to nature as you can get. However, as humans we tend to have a profound impact on the space we visit.
Needless to say, this impact isn’t always good. In fact, our presence in the backcountry can alter a place for ever, and not in a good way!
Whether we are out on a day hike, or whether we are setting up camp, it is always a good idea to be aware of the sort of impact we are having on the surrounding environment.
This is why it’s important to practice minimal impact or no trace backcountry ethics and try to ensure that your visit leaves as little or no residual or harmful effect on the environment or the native inhabitants.
Here are 10 minimal impact backcountry camping tips:
1. Pay attention to the rules and regulations about fires. In some backcountry areas fires are prohibited. Never leave a campsite burning. Do not build new fire pits. Consider using a backpacking stove to prepare meals. It takes less time and has less impact on the environment than building a campfire.
2. Do not use lake or river water to clean dishes or yourself. Instead, cart water to dry land and dispose of dishwater in the forest well back from the campsite.
3. Avoid cooking more food than you will consume. Pack out what you do not eat. Burying food will attract animals and get them used to humans.
4. Avoid excessive garbage by packing food in re-usable containers. Never take glass bottles into the backcountry and always pack out everything that you pack in, including all your garbage.
5. Human waste must be buried. Choose an area at least 50 meters away from water sources. Look for a spot with an inland slope to prevent it from draining into natural water sources and dig a hole that is at least eight inches deep.
Mix soil with the waste and bury. Do not bury toilet paper of feminine hygiene products. You can burn your toilet paper at the campsite and use biodegradable feminine hygiene products or pack them out.
6. Stay on designated trails and walk in single file in the center of the path to avoid trampling plants and altering the environment.
7. When camping, if possible choose an established site. If not possible, choose an area where you will have minimal impact. Do not clear an area to create a campsite. Don’t cut things down or dig trenches.
8. Before leaving your campsite, check to make sure you have taken everything with you that you brought. Leave the campsite as you found it.
9. Don’t bring your dog with you. Most parks don’t allow dogs off leash and dogs don’t generally belong in the wild.
(The only exception for this rule might be if the dog is extremely well trained for this type of activity, and you are able to deal with their droppings the same way you deal with your own waste… A dog should never be allowed to chase or impact on the environment and wildlife).
10. Leave nature as you found it, or better. There’s a saying, “take only pictures, leave only footprints.” Follow this saying. Don’t pick up rocks or plants and if you encounter garbage along the way, pick it up and take it with you.
Check out the National Park Service for more information about Backcountry Camping advice…
The more we can leave nature undisturbed, the longer it will be around for us, our children and their children to enjoy. Take care of the land when you camp and go backcountry hiking so others may enjoy it too. Our wilderness is a priceless asset that once gone cannot be replaced.
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