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The ecological impact of designated camping sites?


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Home Forums General Forums Environmental Issues The ecological impact of designated camping sites?

Viewing 18 posts - 26 through 43 (of 43 total)
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  • #3753218
    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member

    @retiredjerry

    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    climbing Cascade volcanoes might be another example where carrying your poop out.  Like, Camp Muir on Mount Rainier.  Just gravel everywhere so poop won’t decompose.

    #3753302
    David Gardner
    BPL Member

    @gearmaker

    Locale: Northern California

    It takes years for human feces to decompose, (see here, here, and here) especially above tree line. You may or may not see it, good cat hole or not, but it’s literally toxic, hazardous material. We just need to get used to following the Leave No Trace ethos to its logical conclusion. Get over it. Leaving it out there is just another of the many ways we love our favorite wild places to death. Or we can “Don’t Look Up.”

    #3753308
    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member

    @retiredjerry

    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    yeah, above treeline it’s a good idea to carry your poop out

    I’m skeptical that in a lower elevation area with soil with roots that your poop doesn’t decompose

    I wasn’t impressed with the movie “Don’t Look Up”.  Kind of preachy or simplistic.  I do think that it’s a great idea to identify all asteroids that might hit earth and work on technology to deflect.  There’s currently a mission to test deflection.  If you can detect a collision far enough ahead, it would be relatively easy to deflect.  The ending was technically incorrect – you won’t get hit by a shock wave and wiped out immediately unless you’re close to the impact point.  Instead, there will be raining down of hot collision fragments and it will heat up until everything catches fire from the heat.  The movie depicted people as good vs bad, sort of like a Marvel comic.

    Or was that movie really about pooping in the wilderness?  It must have been about something more than just asteroids : )

    #3753310
    AK Granola
    BPL Member

    @granolagirlak

    Of course poop decomposes. What nonsense. Animals poop all over the place and if it didn’t decompose, we’d be drowning in it. Certainly takes longer in some environments, but that’s why there are different rules for different places.

    #3753311
    AK Granola
    BPL Member

    @granolagirlak

    I’d also argue that although human poop can be hazardous to other humans, when properly composted, it becomes an excellent soil additive. Now eat your lettuce!

    #3753312
    Todd T
    BPL Member

    @texasbb

    Locale: Pacific Northwest

    I’m skeptical that in a lower elevation area with soil with roots that your poop doesn’t decompose

    Indeed, and none of the first three links David G listed claimed such.  I think the logical conclusion is that in most places that are not “extreme,” digging and using a proper cat hole does the job.

    As for the “toxic” link, I think it’s mostly fearmongering.  We encounter far more of the supposed hazardous material just doing the family laundry every week than walking in the wilderness.

    Yes, there are places where something more than burying is needed, but not everywhere.

    #3753315
    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member

    @retiredjerry

    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    “it’s mostly fearmongering”

    yeah!  and fearmongering backfires.  Then people won’t believe anything you say.  Just stick to the facts.  And if there are subjective opinions then clearly identify as such.

    It’s taken over the world.  Everyone knows everything and wants to tell everyone else what “the truth” is.  And if you don’t agree with me, you’re stupid.

    Not beating up on David though.  His opinion is just as valid as mine.

    This is chaff isn’t it? : )

    #3753318
    Dan
    BPL Member

    @dan-s

    Locale: Colorado

    Regarding the “suggested route” part of the question. I can’t imagine it’s a great idea to suggest a general route without building an actual trail. I’m not an ecologist, but it just doesn’t make much sense to me.

    In delicate areas (e.g. alpine tundra) with no actual “tread”, I was always taught not to follow behind hiking companions, but to spread out the impact.

    #3753319
    jscott
    BPL Member

    @book

    Locale: Northern California

    “Not beating up on David though. ”

    By implication…you’re beating up on David.
    But everyone here knows that in fact, you’re not. You’re bending over backwards to assure us that you don’t have David in mind when you…

    never mind…

    anyhow, I’m with AK: poop decomposes in forest environments. and just to get all controversial and bring up arguments of yore (from yore?): TP is a wood product that also decomposes when properly buried and wetted out.

    what in the world does poop have to do with asteroids?

    #3753322
    rubmybelly!
    BPL Member

    @sleeping

    Locale: The Cascades

    I’ll continue to leave it behind unless it’s specifically against the rules where I am. I use the slurry method, and believe that helps decomposition of both waste and tp.

    #3753324
    David Gardner
    BPL Member

    @gearmaker

    Locale: Northern California

    No worries. I wish I could get away with saying something in jest like “You are all entitled to your erroneous opinions” but then you might think I was implying that actually…no, let me reassure you, I mean…

    never mind…

    I know that no one wants to do it, for a lot of reasons, and we try to convince ourselves that it’s OK. But my experience in real life is that too many people don’t do cat holes right, whether it’s distance from water, distance from obvious camping spots, TP flapping in the breeze, too many too close together in popular places where the distance to a better cat hole spot that doesn’t overload the location is a hike.

    But to bring it back to the OP: I would argue that the ecological impact of designated sites where there is no facility and people aren’t required to pack their waste out will be greater with respect to a long term human waste problem. It’s just math. There are approximately 1,500 thru hikers per year on the JMT every year. Averaging about 10 miles per day, that’s 21 days each. Assuming each hiker goes once per day, that works out to 31,500 cat holes every year. Assuming 1/4 lb. per “load” that’s 7,875 lbs, or 3.94 tons. It is not evenly distributed along the 200+ mile trail either, it is concentrated near good camping spots, which almost always means within walking distance of a water source. It takes longer to decompose than a year anywhere, at best, so it inexorably builds up. And that’s just thru hikers.

    Believe me, I hate doing it. And I haven’t always done it. But I don’t pretend that it doesn’t have a significant ecological impact. It’s become much more of a problem, in the past 5 years especially, where I encountered areas highly impacted by cat holes near main trails and obvious preferred camping spots. The odds of getting everyone to do it right are zero. Where packing it out is required some won’t do it right, some won’t do it at all (at least until the rangers start checking for your waste bag as well as your bear can), but the overall impact on areas near designated camping spots with no facilities will be greatly reduced.

    Yeah, it’s unpleasant, but take one for the team, prove your dedication to the wilderness areas we all love, and do the best thing.

    #3753332
    rubmybelly!
    BPL Member

    @sleeping

    Locale: The Cascades

    No.

    #3753355
    jscott
    BPL Member

    @book

    Locale: Northern California

    There’s a LOT of territory out there away from popular campsites where one can dig a cat hole. Do properly and it will never be seen. We could measure bear and deer and bird poop in tons and worry about that as well.

    Horse poop is another matter. They defecate on the trail and right into streams. Making them wear a diaper and hauling out their business would be a good thing. Have a dedicated poop haul horse perhaps. Ain’t gonna happen.

    #3753363
    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member

    @retiredjerry

    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    Maybe just deal with it on an individual basis

    Like they mentioned No Name Lake – yeah, there’s a pooping problem there.  No Name Lake is out of the way, but mentioned on the internet so a lot of people go up there now.  No soil for poop to decompose in.  They should just say no camping (or pooping) within some distance of the lake.  Like they’ve done.

    I think David made an obscure reference to the movie “Don’t Look Up” which is nominally about how the earth ignored an approaching asteroid which then caused a mass extinction event.  The politicians were just worried about getting re-elected so they preferred that people just don’t talk about it because it will scare people.  But then it turned out the scientists were right and it did cause a mass extinction event.

    Which, they say, is a metaphor for ignoring global warming.

    #3753372
    David Gardner
    BPL Member

    @gearmaker

    Locale: Northern California

    Jerry: nailed it!

    #3753373
    AK Granola
    BPL Member

    @granolagirlak

    Some of this is really up to public land managers. We have a short backpacking trail (2-4 days) that has grown significantly more popular thanks to social media in recent years. The State Parks finally put in privies in the more popular places where people camp along the trail, and it’s a big improvement. As with most of our public lands, no permits or reservations are needed, and there are no restrictions on where people can camp. But there are areas that naturally attract more campers. Much easier to just put in the privies than try to educate people with whom the park mgmt has no contact.

    #3753432
    rubmybelly!
    BPL Member

    @sleeping

    Locale: The Cascades

    So if I don’t pack out my poop an asteroid is going to destroy life on earth?!?

    I’m so confused…

    #3753459
    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member

    @retiredjerry

    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    and it will also cause global warming to destroy the earth :)

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