- Get Involved
Many of us enjoy bringing our pets to our local city, county, and state parks. However, it’s important to recognize some of the specific impacts associated with pets in the outdoors.
Below are a few simple tips to help keep your pet and wild animals safe while ensuring an enjoyable recreation experience for all visitors.
8 TIPS TO LEAVE NO TRACE WITH YOUR DOG
Every month in the Center's eNews, we pose a difficult Leave No Trace ethical and skills based situation for readers to comment on. Below is March's situation and a few of your responses.
What Would You Do?
Backpacking with friends, a majority of your nights out are spent camping in pristine backcountry. One afternoon you come across a great campsite off the trail in a level clearing under towering Douglas Fur trees. You find a poorly constructed fire pit with a small pile of ash in it. What would you do in this situation, if anything at all?
Here's what you said:
Eliminate fire pit: scatter rocks, scatter ashes (if cold) along the trail (subsequent hikers will trod down the ashes into the trail tread). If ashes are still warm, douse them until cold with water (if you’ve water to spare). If they’re still warm, and you’ve no water to spare, leave them: better to leave them lying on an already-burned area, than to scatter them in brush where they could ignite dry debris. If the trail is dirt, with no organic debris, spread the ashes along the trail tread. (Subsequent hikers will trod them down into the tread)
-Jan Le Pouvoir, California
Break down the fire pit and disperse it...leave no trace that it ever existed.
-Cindy Reilly, AZ State Advocate
1. Check to see if "warm"...pour water (if available)
2. IF and or when it is stone cold...disperse any rocks indicating a "pit" and rake or disperse ash and cover with dirt making sure no needles etc are part of that.
3. IF NOT stone cold take steps to make sure it IS.
4. Leave no evidence that it once was there.
5. Pick up any trash and take it with you.
Breakdown the firepit and do the best to restore it to primitive, and haul off the ash, although could take the small amount of ash out a couple of hundred yards and disperse. Same would be true of any left behind unburnt wood.
Pack out the trash, take the fire pit apart and scatter ashes and stones. Any fire you make should be in an elevated pan or on enough dirt or sand to be able to safely remove afterwards, scatter ash once cold, and Leave No Trace of its existence. Keep fire small or do without it using candles for your fire and gas burners for your cooking.
-Jim Jenkins, Mesa, AZ
If the campsite and campfires are “legal” based on the land management agencies guidance I would leave it alone. If the campsite is legal but campfires are not then I would widely disperse the rocks and ashes and naturalize the site to erase traces of the campfire. It would not be a good idea to remove the fire site if campfires are legal as future campers would likely rebuild a fire site in a different spot. Due to the long term impacts to soil caused by campfires it’s best to pick the best spot and keep the campfire there. Agencies often do this by anchoring steel fire rings or fire grates but you can also bury large rocks in the ground to make rock fire sites more permanent.
-Jeff Blacksburg, VA
Camp there and remove/obliterate the fire pit without using it.
- Henry Salt Lake City, UT
This is a great teachable moment for your group, if they are not well versed in LNT – or an opportunity to set an example of walking the walk if they area. I would scatter the ashes, or possibly leave them in place, and fill in the pit using the dirt the person who constructed the pit misplaced. If that isn’t possible, I’d gather mineral material from several places spread over a wide area to do so, and then scatter some woody debris to help disguise the disturbance.Next, I’d use a camp-stove to cook with, and sit back to enjoy the sights and sounds of the evening. If some members of the group would like a campfire-type experience, a candle is a remarkably effective alternative – just remember to be fire-wise and clear a safe area around it, and never leave it burning unattended.
-Eric, Alpine AZ
1. SCATTER THE STONES IN A WIDE AREA
2. REMOVE ASH AND SCATTER OR BURY
3. RETURN AREA TO LOOK LIKE REST OF AREA BY PUTTING DOWN A GROUND COVER OF NEEDLES, LEAVES SMALL TWIGS
4. IF ANY FIRE WOOD IS PILES UP, SCATTER
I would dismantle the fire ring, disperse the ashes and coals over a large area and move any rocks out of the area scattered over a large area.
-Jack Latham, BSA Caddo District
With a poorly constructed fire pit already there with a pile of ash, limit further damage by scattering the rocks and ashes and cleaning up most signs of the former fire pit. Use your camping stove for your fire source.
I would eliminate all evidence of the fire pit to the best of my ability. If there were rocks they would be widely scattered or put at the bottom of the pit, the ash would be removed and scattered at least 100 -200 feet out side the "camping area". The pit would be filled with dirt, hopefully from the mound from the pit or one could find mineral soil, if not get the dirt away from the site. Cover with needles and twigs.
Rush Williamson ME, NCAC Outdoor Ethics Advisor
I would break down the fire ring and pack out the ash (at least to the nearest substantial stream).
I would tear down the firepit, use some of the dirt to create a mound fire on my fire blanket (that I bring on extended trips) Prior to all this work work I would have a discussion whether to have a fire in a pristine area. If we decide to go without fire we gather our nalgenes and headlamps and have our no flame campfire. The next day we would discuss if leaving the firepit intact would have been a positive action. At this time we would look around and see if this "pristine" area had the resources "down wood" to sustain repeated fires over the years. One student argued that fire ring may avoid other rings being created........As we we walked out we were satisfied tearing down the pit and going with our flameless water bottle fire.Since it is a pristine forest, I would disburse the rocks over a large area. I would also take the ashes and spread them so that they blend in with the surrounding vegetation (the ashes contain nutrients for the plants). Next loosen the sterilized soil where the fire was. Then get organic soil in small amounts from the area and place on top of the loosened dirt and mix to provide a substrate that will promote a return to a vegetative site.
-John Hart <:))><
IF there are no other (better) options available for pit location, reinforce the existing pit; clean it when you leave it; hope others use it and don’t build another one. If there is another option dismantle, erase, and rebuild in the premium spot.
I would dismantle the fire ring/pit if poorly constructed, spread the ashes, and try to make the area as if no fire pit/ring had every existed. Fire rings/pit always seem to become garbage pits.
Assumption: the fire pit is constructed of rocks. 1. Scatter the rocks. 2. Ensure the small pile of ash is completely cold. 3. Bury the ash along with leaves/pine needles in the former fire pit.
I suggest cleaning up the fire pit site and returning it to nature.
-Jay Stires, Kansas
If it seems Not to be an well established camping area, I would dismantle the fire ring and try and cover up the appearance that it existed.
I would dismantle the fire pit. Scattering the debris and restoring the area as best I could so no one else would use this area as a fire pit in the future.
If no one is around, and water is available, pour water on the pit to make sure it is dead out. I would scatter the wet ashes so they are not recognizable/visible. Scatter any sticks. Look for an area with excess duff & forest debris and remove small amounts to scatter over the pit site to make sure no one else can see it after making sure no black is visible.
-Bryan Bell, Olympic National Park
1. It is best to use an existing campsite so that you do not cause additional impact on the resource, so if this is a good campsite that has already been used by others, use this site.
2. What is the current posted fire risk? If high DON'T BUILD ANY FIRE.
3. A campfire and fire ring are not always necessary for cooking or heating water. It is better to carry a small lightweight propane burner to heat food and water.
4. If you absolutely must have a campfire to heat water or cook food, construct a dirt mound campfire, or use a fire pan or fire blanket so as to avoid sterilization of the soil, which leaves a dead bare spot..
5. Collect and burn only dead wood smaller than your wrist so that it will burn up completely. Do not cut green or growing trees. Do not try to burn large logs. Do not burn trash in your campfire. Pack it in, pack it out.
6. Before you leave, drown fire, scatter ashes, disperse fire ring stones.
I would scatter the ashes and try to make the fire pit area not look like a fire pit .
If I stumbled upon an established campsite in a pristine area as long as it met LNT criteria. As long as the campsite is off trail and has an established fire pit, I would leave the site alone. If the fire pit is poorly constructed and contains trash, I would reconstruct the fire pit and pack out the trash in hopes that future users of the site will leave it as they found it.
-Beth McCandless, Master Educator since 2002
Depending on how pristine the area is, I would remove the ash (haul out if needed or distribute it on the trail) or bury the ash and then try to make the surroundings as pristine as possible.
Do you use the fire pit and have yourself a warm fire to sit at as the sun goes down and the temperature drops or do you deconstruct the fire pit and naturalize the area?
There are a few options here, any of which would be acceptable. First, whether or not you intend to have a fire, consider cleaning out the fire ring and packing out the trash. Litter often attracts animals to campsites and litter in fire pits often attracts more litter. Generally speaking, burning trash is not recommended, and a clean fire pit helps reinforce the notion that fire pits are for burning only wood. Next, consider shoring up the fire pit so that it is in a condition that will prompt others to use it rather than construct another, newer fire pit. When a campsite has one single well-built and clean fire pit, it can lessen the temptation for visitors to build multiple fire rings in the same area. Usually it is best to have one fire pit rather than multiple fire pits in one area.
If you intend to have a fire in the newly cleaned fire pit you need to ensure that fires are allowed in the area and ensure that conditions are safe for having a fire. Windy and dry conditions, even if there is no fire ban, may not offer the best conditions under which to build a campfire responsibly. Assuming fires are allowed, conditions are safe and you have the skills to have a responsible fire, then go for it. Make sure you use only dead, downed wood that is no larger than your wrist. Give some thought to how you will put the fire out as well. Before going to bed make sure the fire is dead out and cold to the touch. Before leaving the campsite ensure the fire pit is clean for the next visitors to the site.
While some outdoor enthusiasts enjoy campfires, many people do not. If you choose not to have a fire, still consider cleaning and shoring up the existing fire pit to encourage its use by future visitors to the area. If you feel that the fire pit should be dismantled and the site rehabilitated, take photographs of the site, note the condition of the fire pit and share this information with the land manager responsible for the area. Rehabilitation work can be very beneficial for an area but should always be done in consolation with local land mangers. If the manager agrees with your assessment of the site, work with him or her to develop the best plan for rehabilitating the site so that it meets the agency's criteria and standards.
Regardless of whether or not you have a fire, be sure and do what you can to help take care of our shared resources.
BILLIONS OF PIECES OF TOXIC TRASH ARE LEACHING DEADLY CHEMICALS
INTO THE ENVIRONMENT WHERE WE LIVE, WORK, AND PLAY
New Bilingual Public Service Announcements from Legacy and the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics Shed Light on Toxic Waste Created by Cigarette Litter,
Urging Americans to Reconsider and Stop Cigarette Butt Litter in Observance of Earth Day
Washington, D.C- This month in advance of Earth Day, Legacy has partnered with the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics to raise awareness and mobilize action surrounding this toxic problem with a new set of television and radio Public Service Announcements (PSAs) available in English and Spanish, urging the public to ‘Rethink Butts’ and take a new perspective on this environmental issue.
Littered cigarette butts are more than just an eye sore. According to environmental clean-up reports, cigarette butts are the No. 1 littered item on U.S. roadways and the No. 1 item found on beaches and waterways worldwide. A new survey conducted by Legacy, shows that while more than 88 percent of Americans surveyed think that cigarette butts are an environmental concern, more than 44 percent of those polled who had ever smoked admit to having dropped a cigarette on the ground and nearly 32 percent have dropped a cigarette out of a car window.
Toxic tobacco trash includes a plastic filter which biodegrades only under extreme conditions, putting wildlife in danger and wreaking costly havoc on U.S. waterways, parks, beaches and roadways. Additionally, cigarette butts contain carcinogens that can leach into soil, and chemicals that are poisonous to wildlife, threatening to contaminate water sources.
Over the prior 30 days, Americans surveyed reported seeing this form of toxic litter on sidewalks (80.1 percent), in parks (32.1 percent), on playgrounds (16.6 percent) and on beaches (15.7 percent). While more than 93 percent of those surveyed agree that dropping a cigarette butt on the ground is a form of littering, it is alarming that so many smokers still litter them.
“Social norms surrounding litter have shifted dramatically over the last several decades,” said Dr. Cheryl Healton, PhD, President and CEO of Legacy, a public health non-profit based in Washington, D.C. “But despite the fact that so many Americans are hyper-concerned about the environment and are eager to recycle household items and pick up litter, there remains a total disconnect when it comes to flicking cigarette butts onto our streets and into our waterways. Through our new partnership with Leave No Trace we hope to not only begin to change the behavior of littering cigarette butts, but also highlight the fact that billions of cigarettes butts annually amount to an enormous environmental and public health threat that our communities are left to pay for.”
“Cigarette butts have a serious impact in the outdoors we create and our children explore,” according to Dana Watts, Executive Director of the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. “Through this important partnership with Legacy, we hope to provide tangible and relevant public education about the issue, fostering healthier people, lands and waterways.”
In an increasingly health and environmentally conscious world, cigarette butts remain one of the only socially acceptable forms of littering left. This new set of bilingual PSAs is available online for download and distribution. Join more than a billion people in 180 countries around the world this Earth Day, and commit to promoting environmental action this year, by stopping toxic litter and starting the discussion about this global problem. Download the PSAs and read more at RethinkButts.org.
Legacy helps people live longer, healthier lives by building a world where young people reject tobacco and anyone can quit. Legacy’s proven-effective and nationally recognized public education programs include truth®, the national youth smoking prevention campaign that has been cited as contributing to significant declines in youth smoking; EX®, an innovative public health program designed to speak to smokers in their own language and change the way they approach quitting; and research initiatives exploring the causes, consequences and approaches to reducing tobacco use. Located in Washington, D.C., the foundation was created as a result of the November 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) reached between attorneys general from 46 states, five U.S. territories and the tobacco industry. To learn more about Legacy’s life-saving programs, visit LegacyForHealth.org.
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