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The Rugged Outdoors Requires Gentle Manners by Dave Foreman

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or centuries, Americans that know how to live close to the land have traveled comfortably in wild

country by using the resources of the wilderness. But today there are so many people out tramping around the last tiny areas of isolated, fragmented and injured wilderness that we can’t afford to play mountain man anymore; we have to tread more softly, out of respect and generosity of spirit toward the land and its wild inhabitants. Many books give helpful detailed instruction on low-impact trekking and camping techniques, but here are a few guidelines: Stay on designated switchbacks. Shortcutting across switchbacks on a trail causes erosion just as surely as loggers hauling trees upslope. Think before voiding. Locate designated toilet facilities and use them. On the trail, bag toilet paper and carry

it out to a proper disposal site or safely burn it in a campfire. Human feces are a pollutant if not properly buried in a cat hole dug a few inches into the soil and thoroughly covered. Dig and dispose away from temporarily dry watercourses, campsites, trails and other places where hikers may tarry. In the right place, waste can provide food for insects and worms that live in the topsoil. Use existing fire rings. Also, only

use downed and dead wood for camp- fires; never break limbs or twigs off dead or living trees. Never build a fire in overused or fragile areas like timber- line lakeshores or above the tree line. Use a fire pan on raft and canoe trips and pack out the ashes or deposit them in the main current if that is allowed in river-specific rules. Better yet, rely on a backpacker’s camp stove. Pack it all out. No littering; and pick up trash found along the way.

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