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Leave No Trace Ethics
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Unknown abc
(edude) - F
Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/15/2009 13:48:42 MDT Print View

Leave No Trace Ethics, simplified.

http://www.the-ultralight-site.com/leave-no-trace.html

Just thought I'd share :)

rob wil
(AUradar) - F

Locale: FL Panhandle (aka LA)
re on 06/15/2009 15:09:59 MDT Print View

>>The Rule: Pack out all food wastes - even crumbs that >>fall to the ground.

>>Common Sense: Gimme a break! Humans and other animals have been dropping crumbs from their dinner for ages. Don't dump half a pan of noodles next to the tent where it is ugly and attracts animals, but don't worry if a few of your sunflower seeds or corn chips escape. (By the way, I am not making these up. I just read a description of how to strain your camp dishwater - using a strainer brought for this purpose - so you can pack up and carry out any food particles that are in it.)


well, some food isn't as biodegrable as you would think. My first hike, at the campsite, someone had left dog food out on the ground. That stuff don't biodegrade.

But then at scout day camp this past week, they were getting onto the scouts about tossing water from their cups out into the woods. That seemed a bit to much.

Chad Miller
(chadnsc)

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
LNT - Group size on 06/15/2009 15:31:12 MDT Print View

I think that list forgot one of the major LNT ethics;

Keep your hiking group small.


I've seen some rather large groups of backpackers on trails (10-15 people) and I find that parties this size actually do cause a higher degree of general trail damage than smaller groups (five or less).

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Locale: DON'T LOOK DOWN!!
Re: LNT - Group size on 06/15/2009 15:44:30 MDT Print View

If they went in 3 groups of 5 instead would that help?

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: re on 06/15/2009 18:08:17 MDT Print View

> at scout day camp this past week, they were getting onto the scouts about tossing water
> from their cups out into the woods. That seemed a bit to much.

Some people WANT rules, then they take them to extremes. Beats having to think for themselves.

Cheers

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Re: LNT - Group size on 06/15/2009 22:22:58 MDT Print View

Chad,

> I've seen some rather large groups of backpackers on trails (10-15 people) and I find that parties this size actually do cause a higher degree of general trail damage than smaller groups (five or less).

Are you saying that a single group of 10-15 causes more trail damage than 2-3 groups of five hiking over the same trail? Why would that be?

-- MV

Ryan Linn
(ryan.c.linn)

Locale: Maine!
Re: Re: LNT - Group size on 06/16/2009 05:46:27 MDT Print View

"Are you saying that a single group of 10-15 causes more trail damage than 2-3 groups of five hiking over the same trail? Why would that be?"

I'd say yes, but not 100% of the time. It's more of the group mentality. Larger groups tend to spend more time milling about as they stop for breaks, chat with each other along the trail, etc. Large groups of people wandering around, stepping off trail in the same spot for a water break... that can make a big ol' mess. Also, less people hiking together can give wet trail more time to dry between feet churning it into softer mud, which is what causes a lot of erosion on the trail.

I think the LNT foundation has some research about group sizes correlating to increased impact, but I don't know where to find it. On the other hand, just look at some of the groups in the White Mountains and the wake of sliding mud they leave behind. I ran into a single group of over 50 people going to a hut once, and before I could find a good spot to step off trail to let them go by the person in the front of their pack hopped to the side of the trail and called for everyone behind him to do so. One person standing off trail versus fifty... ouch.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Re: LNT - Group size on 06/16/2009 08:04:35 MDT Print View

Uh oh. One of our favorite topics here...
Okay, I have to say it.

Burying TP is not LNT. It's littering. Why not just bury your paper trash too?
I completely don't get people that quibble over leaving crumbs and then bury wads of toilet paper all over the wild.

OK, I said it.

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Group Size on 06/16/2009 08:09:15 MDT Print View

Many of the Parks allow groups up to 15 on a single permit. When I hike with my friends, it's always small.On scout trips i often find myself in a group of 12-15. Just a different way of doing things. We want those kids to get out and experience the outdoors, especially backpacking, while under supervision of people that can train them properly.

Our large groups never hike off trail. We always camp on durable surfaces, never cut switchbacks, respect others and wildlife. Along the way we try to emphasize LNT. One of our habits is to take along a trash bag and take out others trash. There is a lot of it out there. We just tie it to the back of someone's pack each day.

I think 2-3 people can do damage just as easily as 12-15 can if they do not respect the environment they are in.

Brian UL
(MAYNARD76)

Locale: New England
Re: Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/16/2009 08:35:43 MDT Print View

LNT is just more dogma. It encourages extremism just like all dogma.
Even the wording encourages extremism -leave NO trace!
An impossibility. The rules themselves seem reasonable enough when you read them but there is always people who want to make commandments out of them and interpret them in the strictest most puritanical way.

I prefer the term 'minimal impact" -
right away the term recognizes that you WILL have an impact and it is not necessarily a negative thing. It is entirely possible for a reasonable person to accomplish.
LNT views man as an invader, negative, and alien.
Minimal impact views man as part of nature, one of earths creatures who belongs.
LNT is Scientology
Minimal impact is pantheism
Of course "common sense and decency" is also an acceptable substitute.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/16/2009 09:04:44 MDT Print View

Chill out brother, I think you're getting way too deep into a semantics game.

LNT is nothing but a goal to aspire to, something to practice to the greatest extent possible.

Of course everything leaves a trace. Let's not get into the "what if I fart in the woods" vs. LNT argument, please...

But as far as actual PRACTICE goes...
I stand my ground. TP is litter, buried or not.

Brian UL
(MAYNARD76)

Locale: New England
Re: Re: Re: Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/16/2009 09:11:22 MDT Print View

LNT is semantics so playing the game is the whole point.
I don't want to aspire to something unattainable.
Its not what reasonable people do. And practicing something to the "greatest extent possible" is pretty much the definition of extreme.
I also bury my TP. Why is it not littering? Well what if I fart in the woods?

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Locale: DON'T LOOK DOWN!!
Re: Re: Re: Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/16/2009 09:11:32 MDT Print View

Craig,

So do you use leaves instead? Or burn the TP? Or just use water and your left hand? Or take it home? Or what?

I guess leaves rot down, but so does buried TP eventually.

Edited by tallbloke on 06/16/2009 09:18:14 MDT.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Re: Re: Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/16/2009 10:32:26 MDT Print View

Yep, it's water and the left hand for me.

I guess it's OK to bury macaroni and cheese boxes, paper towels, whatever other paper garbage one might carry. Don't stress, they'll all rot down eventually.


Cool, I never thought of myself as an extremist.

Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/16/2009 11:16:37 MDT Print View

Stuff like this sign:domesign

Because all those those people defecating all over Half Dome either didn't care, or didn't think one person's p00p could matter, and of course, one person's doesn't unless everybody thinks that, and then that's a lot of poo.

And responsible people sometimes seem to take these rules as a personal attack; they aren't, but there's a lot of stupid lazy people who need the rules. As the ranger explained to me at Yosemite, the reason they make you camp 200' from water is that in the middle of the night, when it's cold, and you're in your underwear, are you REALLY going to make sure you walk far enough that you aren't urinating in a drinking water source? Okay, so you might, but plenty of people won't, and we can't tell by looking who those people are and aren't, ergo the 200' rule.

As for burying food, it's acceptable to widely disperse the watered down bits and pieces left over in after you wash your dishes. But I camp in bear country, and I DO NOT want to worry that I set up my tarp over (or near) a spot where somebody buried (not deep enough) all the extra food they over packed and didn't feel like carrying out, and have a bear come visiting in the night because it smells food *in* my tarp. Again, YOU probably don't do these things, but other people do, and those are the people who need the rules.

A. B.
(tomswifty)
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/16/2009 11:26:19 MDT Print View

"I guess it's OK to bury macaroni and cheese boxes, paper towels, whatever other paper garbage one might carry. Don't stress, they'll all rot down eventually."

Slippery slope. Obviously if you allowed TP you don't have to allow all paper garbage. Please.

So what is the complaint about using biodegradable TP and burying it with your excrement?

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/16/2009 12:14:03 MDT Print View

"So what is the complaint about using biodegradable TP and burying it with your excrement?"


"Biodegradable" is a silly word often used to do nothing more than greenwash a product. Ultimately, everything is "biodegradable".

My question stands.
Why not just bury all your paper trash too?
Would it be OK if the macaroni boxes, paper towels, misc. junk, etc. were all made just a little bit thinner and labeled "biodegradable"?


That's my complaint...but I'm an extremist, so watch out (the feds could be listening right now). I'll be darned, but I just keep having these extreme ideas...like not wanting anyone else to ever have to accidentally dig up a bunch of MY used toilet paper or trash.

Edited by xnomanx on 06/16/2009 12:20:45 MDT.

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Locale: DON'T LOOK DOWN!!
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/16/2009 12:28:08 MDT Print View

>My question stands.
Why not just bury all your paper trash too?
Would it be OK if the macaroni boxes, paper towels, misc. junk, etc.

Well shiny surfaced card is a bit of a different proposition to TP is it not?

> I just keep having these extreme ideas...like not wanting anyone else to ever have to accidentally dig up a bunch of MY used toilet paper

It could serve as a warning not to dig any deeper...

Richard Matthews
(food) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Re: Re: Re: Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/16/2009 13:06:43 MDT Print View

Brian,

As a trail adopter I try to leave the backcountry better than I found it.

I break up fire rings and scatter the ashes.

I carry out other people's trash.

I erect barriers to short-cutting.

LNT assumes that all human activities are destructive. Self-loathing was a characteristic of the 50ish beat generation.

How about making the world a better place, both in the frontcountry and backcountry?

A. B.
(tomswifty)
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/16/2009 13:16:34 MDT Print View

It's one thing to advocate responsible burying of TP which degrades on a similar timescale to excrement. It's another issue completely to advocate the burying of all trash just because it can degrade on an infinite timescale.

Do you fail to see the logical fallacy? It's called a strawman.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/16/2009 13:29:06 MDT Print View

I cannot help but find it strange that I'm the only person advocating not burying ANY sort of trash and it's my ideas that are extreme and full of logical fallacy.

All I'm trying to advocate is coming as close as one can to leaving no trace, having a minimal impact, treading lightly, being a conscientious hiker, or whatever the catch phrase of the day is...That's how the wild doesn't end up getting trashed.

Good day all.

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/16/2009 13:54:18 MDT Print View

Craig,
You have a valid point.

In answer to your questions (maybe they were rhetorical, not sure), there is a difference between TP and other paper or cartons. TP is designed to break down faster to help with sewage systems. Cartons can have some wet strength agents added and sizing (which helps to prevent water from wetting the surface)...both of which helps the carton to last longer. Cartons are also much thicker, so you could be talking about more mass.

The shiny surface is a clay coating (maybe with some CaCO3 and talc). The layer of white clay will remain and not break into nything different than a looser layer of clay. Sometimes you can also have a plastic layer (LDPE).

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/16/2009 14:13:59 MDT Print View

I also prefer the term minimal impact, and also believe in (and practice) positive impact where I try to leave an area better off than I found it. LNT to me would mean not p00ping or peeing at all, or carrying it out. LNT would not allow me to make fires. Minimal impact allows me to p00p and pee discretely and hygenically, to make small cooking fires (which are also handy for burning mine and other people's paper rubbish) but otherwise take everything else out with me that I *reasonably* can.

Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Re: Re: Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/16/2009 14:28:12 MDT Print View

edit: clarity

There seems to be a lot of different ideas of what exactly LNT is. I've never read a lot on it, but always assumed (and practiced that the 'common sense' suggestions in the original link *were* the basic principles of LNT.

Here's what the United States BLM represents as their version of LNT.

It seems to me the author might have taken the principles of a particularly zealous branch of LNT, made those out to represent LNT philosophy generally, which then enables him to step in as "Mr. Common Sense" and just present the most common LNT principles as products of his common sense mind. I don't really agree with some of the more zealous principles that may be espoused as LNT, but in this case, I don't think the author is being fair in his represenation of LNT as commonly understood.

Humans are part of the natural world too, and the overzealous schools of LNT (if they exist) would seem to forget this fact. The other people that don't think of people as being part of nature are people like Anne "God gave us the earth. We have dominion over the plants, the animals, the trees. God said, 'Earth is yours. Take it. Rape it. It's yours" Coulter As has been pointed out more than once, stepping into the wilderness is impactful, and we humans have a right to be there with the rest of the animals.

And of course there are whole schools of thought regarding the idea of wilderness, and the wisdom considering wilderness as something apart from non-wilderness . . .

Edited by jrmacd on 06/16/2009 14:29:13 MDT.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/16/2009 14:39:17 MDT Print View

I'll come as close I can to leaving no trace, but I ain't packing my poo out. Sorry.

And the only natural end to LNT as it is currently evolving is to say that people are the problem, and shouldn't be in the wilderness.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/16/2009 14:48:49 MDT Print View

For me, a code of leaving minimal impact is not as much about caring for the environment for the sake of the environment, but more about leaving a place for other humans to enjoy as I have done. So to me it's all about making humans feel welcomed and a part of the places they visit, not about excluding them. In other words, leave an area as I would like to find it. Leaving your litter, or unburied faeces, or spreading giardia or whatever is plain inconsiderate and bad manners. From this point of view, as long as it's buried a long way from flowing water and where I won't likely stumble upon it, toilet paper is OK. Other rubbish is not.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/16/2009 15:13:45 MDT Print View

Please read this if you're going to debate the meaning of LNT:
http://www.lnt.org/programs/principles.php

I've always thought of Leave No Trace as the name of a group that simply advocates no/low impact backcountry practices.
There certainly seems to be a lot of angst about the name around here.

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Locale: DON'T LOOK DOWN!!
Re: Re: Re: Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/16/2009 15:23:29 MDT Print View

It's not angst Craig. Those of us without bushbuddy incinerators just don't fancy carrying used TP around. ;-)

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Re: Re: Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/16/2009 15:37:52 MDT Print View

The angst is in the semantics. If they had called it leave minimal trace, it would be fine. But the word NO in leave no trace is an absolute term that means none, nada, zip. Then they set out rules that describe leaving minimal (not NO) trace. There's nothing really wrong with those basic rules as layed out, they should just call it something different, and also should encourage folks to improve their impact, rather than just minimise it, but that is probably asking too much of most people.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/16/2009 15:49:39 MDT Print View

"It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is. If the--if he--if 'is' means is and never has been, that is not--that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement....Now, if someone had asked me on that day, are you having any kind of sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky, that is, asked me a question in the present tense, I would have said no. And it would have been completely true." President Bill Clinton

Ah yes, thank you.
I guess semantics make the world go round. And round round. And round. And round.
And round.

And round.


Let's see how long can we debate the name and not the message.

Justin McMinn
(akajut) - F

Locale: Central Oklahoma
Re: Leave No Trace Ethics - Strawmen on 06/16/2009 15:53:29 MDT Print View

It also seems that the author of the article has created a NLT Strawman to argue against. My theory is that there are more authors that advocate this Ultra LNT, than people who actually put it to practice.

Addition - I've heard of people who want you to drink your soapy water, etc. I will start to take these Ultra LNTers seriously once I've met someone who puts it to practice. Until then, its just a bunch of complaining for complaint sake.

-------

lnt.org mentions burying it in a cathole as an acceptable practice. I'm sure they would say that there are times when this could be abused, but they recognize that there are circumstances where burying Mountain Dollars is perfectly acceptable.

Below is from http://www.lnt.org/programs/principles_3.php

TOILET PAPER
Use toilet paper sparingly and use only plain, white, non-perfumed brands. Toilet paper must be disposed of properly! It should either be thoroughly buried in a cathole or placed in plastic bags and packed out. Natural toilet paper has been used by many campers for years. When done correctly, this method is as sanitary as regular toilet paper, but without the impact problems. Popular types of natural toilet paper include stones, vegetation and snow. Obviously, some experimentation is necessary to make this practice work for you, but it is worth a try! Burning toilet paper in a cathole is not generally recommended.

Toilet Paper in Arid Lands: Placing toilet paper in plastic bags and packing it out as trash is the best way to Leave No Trace in a desert environment. Toilet paper should not be burned. This practice can result in wild fires.

Edited by akajut on 06/16/2009 16:03:47 MDT.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/16/2009 15:56:40 MDT Print View

"Let's see how long can we debate the name and not the message."

Is there something to debate about the message? I guess there's toilet paper to debate, but burning it in a Ti-Tri shouldn't cause too much trace...?

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/16/2009 16:03:53 MDT Print View

"Is there something to debate about the message?"

It's what started this thread.

Now I'm really confused.

I think I need to stay away from this crazy machine (semantics translation- "crazy machine" as in: machine that makes you crazy).

I need a beer.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/16/2009 16:15:10 MDT Print View

LNT in over-used areas probably requires extra-ordinary measures.

That is why I avoid them.

Plus, I am not going to pack-out my p**p. Next they are going to want us to pack out our pee.

Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/16/2009 16:23:55 MDT Print View

"Is there something to debate about the message?"

It's what started this thread.

Well, it is a good idea to define your terms so everyone is on the same page.

I think this is a great debate. Sure, on the surface it's about TP. But it's really about how we as backpackers look at the land we love, how to use it, and what our part in it is.

I'm finding the whole thing fascinating.

Monty Montana
(TarasBulba) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/16/2009 17:27:47 MDT Print View

It never ceases to amaze me how people get so wound up every time this topic comes up! And most of it seems to stem from not knowing what LNT comprises or from some preconceived notion of what it is. Here's what it is (from the Center For Outdoor Ethics):

Plan ahead and prepare.
Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
Leave what you find.
Minimize campfire impacts.
Dispose of waste properly.
Respect wildlife.
Be considerate of other visitors.

Except for the last one it's pretty much the same as the list given by the BLM. Really can't take umbrage against any of it. In fact, it's the same as the values I was taught as a small boy long before LNT came on the scene. Nowhere does it say you can't have campfires (though some forests prohibit campfires in certain areas and specific months). Nowhere does it say you have to pack out your poo (though it does encourage TP be packed out). Basically it says be Present, be Respectful. Om

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/16/2009 18:30:23 MDT Print View

"But as far as actual PRACTICE goes...
I stand my ground. TP is litter, buried or not."

I know we've had this discussion before, but it keeps popping up, so here goes: What is wrong with burning your TP in the cathole and then peeing on it? This eliminates any fire hazard and, with all the nitrogen in the hole, it will be long gone in a few months. I know because I have checked catholes under rocks that I have used on previous trips, dozens of times over the years. At most, only a small, dessicated turdlet remains. That's about as close to LNT as I intend to get, poo-wise, as I refuse to pack out either poo or TP. It is potentially unsanitary AND an animal attractant. As for the BLM holding forth on LNT, that's right up there with Chris Rock on the humor scale. There are many other, far more effective, ways to reduce one's impact to a negligible trace, many of them mentioned in this and other related threads. My 2 cents.

Nate Meinzer
(Rezniem) - F

Locale: San Francisco
LNT on 06/16/2009 18:38:12 MDT Print View

Toilet Paper is for @ssholes.

Leave yours at home.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: LNT on 06/16/2009 18:49:12 MDT Print View

"Toilet Paper is for @ssholes.

Leave yours at home."

Profound, Nate, profound.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: LNT on 06/16/2009 18:54:57 MDT Print View

Any recommendation re:minimising your impact in a wilderness, has to take into account that the majority of people are not going to leave their TP at home. Thus the 'common sense' approach to the problem is to have guidelines of how best to dispose of TP. Burning and catholes are good where permitted or available (some rocky ridges do not lend themselves to catholes or fires). Carrying it is another option, but many people won't do this either (and I concur).

Gary Boyd
(debiant) - F

Locale: Mid-west
I'm confused on 06/16/2009 20:32:59 MDT Print View

Should I leave my @$$hole at home, or my toilet paper... TELL ME WHAT TO DO!

Nate Meinzer
(Rezniem) - F

Locale: San Francisco
Toilet Paper Flame War part XXIV on 06/16/2009 21:08:23 MDT Print View

So if you are headed somewhere where digging a cathole is not possible and you refuse to carry out your poo, what do you do?

Raymond Estrella
(rayestrella) - MLife

Locale: Northern Minnesota
LNT on 06/16/2009 21:29:29 MDT Print View

On some mountains you must haul out ALL waste. It ain’t much fun, let me tell you.

I try to be LNT but I bury my dumps on backpacking trips (as opposed to the afore mentioned mountaineering trips). I suppose that the “true zealots” should be packing it out, and their liquid waste too. All that sodium and minerals will mess up the pH balance in the soil, right? It undoubtedly attracts animals to the salt deposits.

Plus I guess they can’t rinse the sweat off at the end of a hard day’s hiking. Maybe ShamWow! Can make a bath mat for LNT hikers to rinse off over…

Everything in moderation.

Jim Yancey
(jimyancey) - F

Locale: Missouri
LNT and TP on 06/16/2009 21:34:32 MDT Print View

As much as I hate to join in this fray, my 2c is that I practice LNT as warranted by the place and terrain I'm in. In much of my local National Forest there are grazing cattle. I don't worry too much about leaving a shallowly-buried deposit along with post-poo peed-on TP in the hole. I agree with Tom about the extra nitrogen in urine helping the paper to rapidly decompose. In more pristine or sensitive areas, I usually carry out my TP. It's really not that bad, so long as it's well sealed in double ziplocs and/or mylar oven bags. In super-sensitive areas (e.g. Mt. Rainier, etc.) I have carried out my poo. And in ultra-sesitive areas (e.g. Lechuguilla Cave in Carlsbad Caverns NP) I have even carried out my pee!

As is the answer to so many of these controversial issues, "It depends..." Hmmm... come to think about it, maybe that IS the answer... DependsTM!

So, HYOH.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: LNT on 06/16/2009 21:43:25 MDT Print View

I find a lot of this fuss about 'Leave No Trace' amusing. Just how can you practice LNT when you are on a man-made track?

Given the numbers of other non-human animals, both herbivore and carnivore, sharing the terrain, I suggest that the environment in most cases is quite used to dealing with scats. Any small nutrient-loadings will be gone in a few days (human or other animal). (OK, some of the canyons etc need special care - I agree.)

We don't actually use 'LNT' as a concept in Australia, for that and other reasons. Instead we promote MIB: Minimal Impact Bushwalking. Even so, tracks and camp-fire rings would be a thousand times more visible.

Cheers

Gary Boyd
(debiant) - F

Locale: Mid-west
Re: LNT and TP on 06/16/2009 21:46:12 MDT Print View

Jim, I think you have probably provided the most common sense approach to this discussion. Your well rounded approach to things shows wisdom. From the extreme of always to the extreme of never, you have brought a cool middle ground.

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: LNT and TP on 06/16/2009 22:09:33 MDT Print View

I guess it depends on where you hike and whatnot. But, believe it or not, I was actually under the impression that everyone carried out their TP...I honestly had no idea that it was acceptable to bury it.

cary bertoncini
(cbert) - F

Locale: N. California
Hey Nate - on 06/16/2009 22:10:33 MDT Print View

pls practice LNT on my front porch!

Raymond Estrella
(rayestrella) - MLife

Locale: Northern Minnesota
Please on 06/16/2009 22:57:27 MDT Print View

Oops,

I will next time, promise...

Brian UL
(MAYNARD76)

Locale: New England
Re: Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/17/2009 00:12:38 MDT Print View

Alright I guess I started this so let me try and clarify what my argument is.

Im making a purely philosophical argument here. Yes, its semantics but I think of the good kind.
Are we really this day and age going to pretend that words have no meaning? That they don't convey a certain world view and attitude? This is really the crux of my dislike twords "LEAVE NO TRACE"

Yes as I thought I had said, the LNT guidelines as officially written seem totally reasonable I have no qualms with them. But as someone has pointed out even the LNT guidelines need to be seen in context of the environment you wish to enter. For instance I would not bring toilet paper into those few special fragile areas. I carried a Wag -bag up Mt Whitney. No problem.
I don't think I made a strawman out of LNT ,Though saying the alternative is raping the land and being inconsiderate kinda is.. What I said was that I believe the term "LEAVE NO TRACE" -ENCOURAGES- extremism. Because its an absolute statement.
There is no room for debate or discussion it is NO trace, period. ( Lynn seems to understand what I saying)
I know its a bit of figurative speech, but interpreting figurative speech in a literal way seems to be a disease today- everybody does it. So Im saying we have to be careful about what we say. LNT the term if taken this way says that Im already doing something wrong as soon as I get out of bed and decide to travel to the wilderness- already I have original sin Im guilty I know I cant live breath and travel without leaving a trace. But I CAN go to the wilderness and minimize my impact or keep my impact positive. Now Im feeling good. Im one of natures children and Im participating in life and it is good. Yes I have guidelines that the Forest service recommends and even restrictions and its totally doable all I have to do is minimize my impacts and/or improve the state our land is in.
What Im saying in essence is that I feel the words Leave No Trace are counter to my world view, my religion. I am nature, nature is me I belong there I have an impact -all life does it is a good thing. Whether that impact is positive or negative is up to us. Come to the wilderness, come home and leave a trace.

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
heart. on 06/17/2009 00:35:32 MDT Print View

i [heart] arguing semantics needlessly.

Edited by DaveT on 06/17/2009 00:36:04 MDT.

Brian UL
(MAYNARD76)

Locale: New England
Re: heart. on 06/17/2009 02:37:50 MDT Print View

to me it is not needless.
I don't want to instill a sense of self loathing and alienation into future generations.

Derek Goffin
(Derekoak)

Locale: North of England
Ethics of leave no trace on 06/17/2009 04:11:59 MDT Print View

In Britain it is starting to be said that upland peat bog is one of our most important resources because it is a habitat that has over centuries stored up more Carbon per hectare than rain forest. If we drain peat bog it starts oxidizing and produces even more greenhouse gases than we do already. This has happened because vegetation has been stopped from biodegrading by waterlogging.
If at home I compost my apple core it rots and produces CO2.
Perhaps the best thing I can do is go up to the peat bog when I want to eat an apple and bury the core in the peat!

Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Re: Re: Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/17/2009 10:26:43 MDT Print View

Brian, I agree with your semantical observations. As you said, words mean things (otherwise how do we communicate?) and the big issue here, (besides TP) is that there seems to be multiple definitions of LNT. A lot of times in debates like this, people are actually talking about the same thing (they agree) but they're 'speaking different languages' so to speak.

I personally favor your 'minimal' impact, as 'No' does leave the door open to more zealous interpretations. As well as being unrealistic

Also, I made an analogy above between zealous LNT'ers and land-exploiters. If that's what you were referring to here

Though saying the alternative is raping the land and being inconsiderate kinda is..

What I was trying to do was make a point similar to the one you're making in the last paragraph. Humans are part of the natural world just like any other animal, and I think that zealous LNT'ers unfortunately see humans as something apart from nature, just like the people who see earth as something for humans to exploit. We have to be conscious of our actions because we have the capacity to wreak havoc in the way no other animal does, but we still have are part of it all. We forget that at our own peril.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Re: Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/17/2009 14:07:27 MDT Print View

I love threads like this, that can interweave concepts of holistic human existence, spirituality and nuero-linguistic programming, all in the context of toilet paper!

Gary Boyd
(debiant) - F

Locale: Mid-west
Re: Re: Re: Re: Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/17/2009 14:20:02 MDT Print View

Zen and the art of Toilet Paper

Edited by debiant on 06/17/2009 14:20:48 MDT.

Monty Montana
(TarasBulba) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/17/2009 15:02:39 MDT Print View

What you said Lynn. Also, I have no problem with with the title LNT, because I tacitly understand that it is not an unequivical No and is probably thus a bad choice of a word and not as descriptive as it could be. I also understand that it arose to counter the woodscrafts practices that dominated the preceeding decades, practices that included chopping down trees at every campsite, leaving piles of garbage, ditching tents, etc...that's the trace that is referred to.

Also, I have no problem in general with the word No as I don't associate it with "The Man" and a consequent negative reaction. The concrete sequentials that muddy these shallow waters comprise a small percentage of the population and would get it all balled up anyway because they lack the ability to coalesce the title (LNT) with the practice. If Minimal were substituted for No, these people's thinking would go something like this: "Well, I was going to chop down three trees for my campsite, but I'll minimize my impact and chop down only one."

I like the current USFS practice in my area in which a small sign posted at the trailhead says: "Pack It In, Pack It Out". No mention of LNT. For most of the general population the rest more or less falls into place.

Edited by TarasBulba on 06/17/2009 15:04:31 MDT.

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
hmmm. on 06/17/2009 15:13:56 MDT Print View

...

Edited by DaveT on 06/17/2009 15:20:21 MDT.

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
also... on 06/17/2009 15:19:50 MDT Print View

this thread started with a posting about LNT which is actually a RANT about certain (over-stated) LNT principles.

a better discussion would focus on the actual LNT principles themselves, such as:
http://www.lnt.org/programs/principles.php

i, for one, am pretty darn happy that LNT/minimize your impact/be smart/whatever you call it has penetrated into recreation as much as it has, and i find it a complete waste of time to argue semantics about what the NO means. :)

Art Sandt
(artsandt) - F
well... on 06/17/2009 16:37:53 MDT Print View

If all LNT amounted to was that people didn't litter and didn't tear up the woods where they make camp, that would be great. Unfortunately, this seemingly modest ideal is nowhere near reality in many places. What's the point of arguing about TP when Billy Bob, Mary Jo, Jimmy Dean, and their 10 chilluns are just going to drive their 4-wheelers in to your favorite camping site and turn it into a shooting range, leaving one of their 4-wheelers, the target at which they were shooting, there to rust, since after all, everybody knows that a shot-up 4-wheeler don't drive good 'nemore. The only places I have seen toilet paper, actually SEEN it, has been in desert environments, in various canyons in AZ, near the most heavily used camping sites in those canyons.

I think the only thing I'd actually preach to backpackers about (as I step up onto my soapbox) is leaving stone fire rings at your campsite. They do nothing but attract all types of campers to that exact same campsite year-after-year. Glass, metal, food, and upholstery litter accumulates (yes upholstery.. I have no idea how or why they get those couch cushions into 9,000' alpine meadows, but they can and do); the sticks and rotting logs on the forest floor providing habitat for insects and other animals decreases as people burn it up, thus altering the ecosystem; trees get damaged as campers carve their names in them, hang things from them, tear branches off of them for firewood, and even cut them down to burn. Also, if the campsite happens to be at a scenic site (of course they usually are), then all that will happen is the scenic site will gradually get more and more trashed.

Of course, all these things happen at all campsites anyway when certain people go camping, but by leaving a fire ring, you just invited them all to camp at the same spot for years and years to come. Just scatter your fire rings in the morning. It's literally no harder than that. Takes 20 seconds.

Edited by artsandt on 06/17/2009 17:12:17 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: well... on 06/17/2009 19:52:35 MDT Print View

> Just scatter your fire rings in the morning
A very good point for fragile areas. Leave no trace of your having camped there.

A better idea might be to not light a fire at all. We use a canister stove partly for that reason. By and large, you won't be able to see where we camped.

Cheers

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: well... on 06/17/2009 20:23:35 MDT Print View

" better idea might be to not light a fire at all. We use a canister stove partly for that reason. By and large, you won't be able to see where we camped."

+ 1

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Re: well... on 06/17/2009 23:53:29 MDT Print View

> I think the only thing I'd actually preach to backpackers about (as I step up onto my soapbox) is leaving stone fire rings at your campsite.

Your description sounds as if you are talking about a site without evidence others have camped there. In that case, I would suggest avoiding the fire all together. While it is possible to have a fire and clean up after yourself so that others will not be able to see you had one, it is not as simple as just dismantling a fire ring. Most people will not (or cannot, or do not know how to) clean up the fire site properly. Best to just avoid it.

> Just scatter your fire rings in the morning. It's literally no harder than that. Takes 20 seconds.

Unfortunately, even though it is not what you said or meant, some people take that to mean scattering existing fire rings at sites that are already heavily used. Doing so is a bad idea, because it just strews blackened rock around and encourages proliferation of fire sites -- better to have the repeated fires and black rocks at a single place.

Summary:

1) It is OK to build a fire, if you like, at existing heavily used sites that already have fire rings. Whether or not you do, don't try to dismantle the fire ring you found there when you arrived.

2) It is best to NOT build a fire at all at a site that does not already have an obvious fire site, whether or not there is evidence people have pitched camp there previously. Just say NO! If you want a fire that badly, go camp at a site that already has a fire ring.

3) Exception to (2) is when you are really remote enough, and far enough off trail, that no one will be likely to come along for a very long time (if ever). Very few people camp in such locations.

-- MV

Edited by blean on 06/17/2009 23:55:19 MDT.

Brian UL
(MAYNARD76)

Locale: New England
Re: Re: well... on 06/18/2009 00:10:42 MDT Print View

Roger, look at my post about fire building here:
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=20006&skip_to_post=158651#158651

Not saying its the best way or thats its appropriate everywhere just thats its easily done, no fire rings are necessary.
and what about the trace left from drilling and mining to produce that canister? Just saying that no one comes out clean.
Monty, yes you are right most people are going to take the term LNT for what it is- figurative speech. Its just that in my experience many people take it quite literally and it enforces a certain point of view that man is separate from nature and can only be destructive.
You point out that terms like minimal are subjective and some people fear that one persons idea of minimal may not be the same as someone elses. This is really getting at my whole point, yes its a matter of judgment some people fear that others will make bad judgments therefore the commandment LNT. No room for judgment beyond what degree of guilt you have.
I'm taking the position that we have no choice but to educate people and trust that they will make good judgments.
Also Im not hung up on the term "minimal" maybe thats not the best one either, how about something like "positive" impact?

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
oh my. on 06/18/2009 00:55:05 MDT Print View

brian,

your experience with the LNT concept must be different than mine. all the talk about "LNT commandments" and whatnot. when i read the "principles" on that LNT web page, it all seems pretty common sense and reasonable. i just don't understand where you are coming from on this. i guess it's just one of those silly chaff talks (not yet in chaff) that goes around and around on here.

did you have an LNT nun who hit you with an LNT ruler when you were a child? :)

Brian UL
(MAYNARD76)

Locale: New England
Re: oh my. on 06/18/2009 01:31:09 MDT Print View

"did you have an LNT nun who hit you with an LNT ruler when you were a child? :)"

In manner of speaking, Yes
It is common for people to want to use Gov. bureaucracy to discourage the public from visiting public land because they view nature as something that needs to be separated from humanity. They want Nature to have a velvet rope around it.
Its obvious just from this site alone that many people view any activity that leaves a trace as negitive (i.e. catholes, toilet paper, cooking with fire ect.)
These views don't come from the LNT principles as outlined they come from the concept of leave no trace.
Thou -shalt-not-/ leave-no-trace, its a commandment not a invitation for discussion. You can disagree with me, but I can not possibly make it any clearer. Some people seem to understand exactly what Im saying others don't seem to have even read any of my post- Thats the internet.

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
ah... on 06/18/2009 01:43:03 MDT Print View

now that i know it's the Government (capital G) behind it all, it's making more sense.

Brian UL
(MAYNARD76)

Locale: New England
Re: ah... on 06/18/2009 03:13:20 MDT Print View

You post to show how silly you think others discussions are and you willfully misinterpret ones you don't like to keep the thread going.. what gives?

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Locale: DON'T LOOK DOWN!!
UK equivalent to LNT on 06/18/2009 03:16:06 MDT Print View

http://www.countrysideaccess.gov.uk/things_to_know/countryside_code

That's gov with a small 'g' Dave. We wouldn't have it any other way. Lol.
=======================================================
There are five sections of The Countryside Code dedicated
to helping members of the public respect, protect and enjoy the countryside. Follow the links below for more information.

Be safe, plan ahead and follow any signs

Leave gates and property as you find them

Protect plants and animals and take your litter home

Keep dogs under close control

Consider other people
========================================================
Under the Protect plants and animals and take your litter home link it says:
========================================================
We have a responsibility to protect our countryside now and for future generations, so make sure you don't harm animals, birds, plants or trees.

* Litter and leftover food doesn't just spoil the beauty of the countryside, it can be dangerous to wildlife and farm animals and can spread disease - so take your litter home with you. Dropping litter and dumping rubbish are criminal offences.
* Discover the beauty of the natural environment and take special care not to damage, destroy or remove features such as rocks, plants and trees. They provide homes and food for wildlife, and add to everybody's enjoyment of the countryside.
* Wild animals and farm animals can behave unpredictably if you get too close, especially if they're with their young - so give them plenty of space.
* Fires can be as devastating to wildlife and habitats as they are to people and property - so be careful not to drop a match or smouldering cigarette at any time of the year. Sometimes, controlled fires are used to manage vegetation, particularly on heaths and moors between October and early April, so please check that a fire is not supervised before calling 999.
==========================================================
A couple of observations;

1) It's all pretty straightforward sensible stuff.
2) Each point is backed with a reason and explanation - no-one likes being dictated to, but most are amenable to education and information.
3) The word 'please' is used - politeness goes a long way with the English.
4) There is no scatalogical discussion. English toilet training at a young age is very thorough. :-)

Brian UL
(MAYNARD76)

Locale: New England
Re: UK equivalent to LNT on 06/18/2009 03:41:18 MDT Print View

I like this idea of a Code or Ethics.
It allows people to discuss if something is ethical or unethical. Instead in the States (capital S) we argue about whether what we do leaves a trace.
Its a small matter to some I know, I just don't like the term LNT.

Edited by MAYNARD76 on 06/18/2009 03:42:03 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: well... on 06/18/2009 03:57:42 MDT Print View

Hi Brian

> Roger, look at my post about fire building here:
Very nicely done.
Unfortunately, you would appear to be in a very small minority when it comes to the necessary size of the fire. Pity.

The problem with lighting fires in parts of Australia is that things can go bang. You may have seen TV of our fires recently - rather similar to some of the big ones you have had on the West Coast I think? Makes us nervous.

Cheers

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Locale: DON'T LOOK DOWN!!
Re: Re: UK equivalent to LNT on 06/18/2009 03:59:38 MDT Print View

Brian, I am with you on your point about the semantics and implication and alienation.

A couple of points about the difference between the UK and USA:

1)The UK has more 'National Park' land than the U.S. in percentage terms, although much of it is farmed. The U.S. has more 'pristine wilderness' than the UK in percentage terms. Therefore it's understandable that there is a strong desire on the part of some to 'preserve' that U.S. public access wilderness to as great a degree possible, and that probably goes some way to explaining the different emphasis in the UK 'code' and the U.S. LNT doctrine.

2) It seems that a lot of the U.S. is 'off limits' to hikers because you don't have the network of public paths and the 'right to roam' we have over here. Also, from comments I've read on this site, landowners are more likely to be aggressive to people crossing their land in the U.S. This maybe concentrates more hikers into the 'pristine wilderness' parks whereas in the UK they spread out more into the general 'countryside'.

3) This compounds all the roads and traffic issues which get mixed into the debate.

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Locale: DON'T LOOK DOWN!!
Re: Re: Re: Re: well... on 06/18/2009 04:07:14 MDT Print View

> The problem with lighting fires in parts of Australia is that things can go bang.

Roger, considering the number of meals cooked on wood fires and butane and white gas stoves in australia compared to the number of out of control fires that get started by them, would you say that a small wood fire was more or less easy to control than the occasional malfunctioning butane or white gas stove?

It seems to me that a high calorie fuel problem with a pressurized stove is far more likely to get out of hand than a small wood fire.

I grant you that more bush fires probably get started by open wood fires, but maybe that's only because there are lots more of them used than pressure stoves?

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
We're stuck on semantics still. on 06/18/2009 09:05:11 MDT Print View

"I like this idea of a Code or Ethics."

That's all LNT is.
I say forget the name and focus on the message.

I'm a high school teacher; I sponsor our school's environmental/outdoor club. I've been "unofficially" teaching the LNT curriculum for years now. I have never had a student complain about the "No" in LNT...they all pretty quickly understand that it's simply a name for a set of ideals/ethics/a code/best practices, whatever you want to call it.

It's a great curriculum for kids and saves me the time of developing my own. It can be discussed, picked apart, analyzed based upon a situation. That's what we do. LNT provides questionnaires, study guides, all sorts of resources that are excellent instructional tools for beginners.

Without these resources, this education, the students I have would be lost/tearing up the wild. Most come in thinking orange peels are biodegradable and therefor it's acceptable to leave them all over camp. Most think it's fine to pee and crap wherever you want, break off branches for firewood, etc.
LNT serves as a great base to start from.

I have yet to meet a teenager that has been hung up on the idea that one can technically never leave "no" trace...They get it. It's something to aspire to, a best case scenario.

We don't seem to have this issue in other areas.
Can I practice perfect compassion? Become perfectly kind and good?
Probably not. But that doesn't mean I don't bother doing my best. It's simply something to strive for, as best as one can given one's situation. Why set the bar low?

We will never be perfect, we will never leave no trace...
but we might as well do our best.

So far as I know, there is no LNT Hell. Do your best...if you leave a minimal trace, get over it. You always will.

Brian UL
(MAYNARD76)

Locale: New England
Re: We're stuck on semantics still. on 06/18/2009 09:41:01 MDT Print View

Fair enough Craig,

I know my point is philosophical. people used many different terms to say the same thing long before LNT. LNT is just my least favorite. I have a grip with its idealism and absolutism. I see a certain current of thought today that erroneously separates and alienates man from nature and the term seems to enforce that. Not something normal people would probable think about. Im sure those kids are smart enough to know the difference. LNT is probably here to stay.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: We're stuck on semantics still. on 06/18/2009 10:41:49 MDT Print View

"I see a certain current of thought today that erroneously separates and alienates man from nature..."

I agree and disagree.

There's certainly an erroneous separation.

But there's also a profound separation on another level.
I teach at a school that's 4 miles from the beach.
I have students that have never been there, never seen it.
In my typical spontaneous class surveys, 40-50% of my students have never seen snow. 50% have never seen a live cow (yet eat them 3 meals a day).
I often like to playfully ask how many students have seen a carrot tree- most don't realize there's anything wrong with the question. At least 40% of my students don't really understand sex (biologically speaking) or childbirth. Most think the umbilical cord is attached to mom's stomach.
These are my students...they're seniors, 17-18 years old, many college-bound

Ask these questions to adults on the street.
I think you'll find a profound disconnection with the natural world there too...not talking just the "wild" here, I'm talking the whole natural world, all of its processes.

I think the current sad (and worsening) state of the global environment is a product of nothing but profound alienation and separation.

Coming back to nature, realizing we're one with it, that we're not separate?
Hard to do with so many twittering at 80mph on the 405 headed for a cubicle and a microwave lunch.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Re: We're stuck on semantics still. on 06/18/2009 15:06:03 MDT Print View

Semantics are hugely important. It's why we don't call black americans, or gays, or unmarried women by their previous designations, or any other minorities. It's why we strive towards gender and race-free terminologies. Choosing words and terms that promote a positive message over those that promote a negative message is not something that I (or Brian?) choose to brush under the table.

Semantics aside, I am a fire builder. But I hike in remote areas that are full of dead wood, and mostly pretty damp (temperate rain forests). You would have to be an arsonist to start a forest fire in these conditions. I also exclusively use a Ti-Tri Caldera, with a titanium base plate. The fire is contained, small, and safe. Would I do the same if I was hiking in Victoria in the middle of summer? No way. Saying absolutely NO fires, or NO toilet paper, or whatever, just doesn't make practical sense to me.

In NZ, someone has written an in depth article called "Menstrual waste in the backcountry". It's not just poos and wees that people want to regulate ;) Note some changes of wording to things like "carry home" verus "carry out". Semanitcs at work again...

http://www.doc.govt.nz/upload/documents/science-and-technical/sfc035.pdf

Suggestions
I NFORMATION
Use the words "carry home" instead of "carry out" on all literature in order
to encourage backcountry recreationists to take all rubbish home rather
than dump it in the first convenient receptacle i.e., at a hut, or a roadside.
Pamphlets such as "Finding a Toilet in New Zealand" should make specific
reference to menstrual waste in order to heighten public awareness of the
need to dispose of this material appropriately. At present, the pamphlet
encourages people to "bury human waste" which includes menstrual waste
by default. Suggested wording: "Be careful to bury human excrement and
carry home paper and sanitary products".
A separate pamphlet could be produced which deals specifically with
menstrual waste and which contains information on the environmental
effects of leaving used menstrual products in the backcountry and gives
information on the availability of alternative disposal methods.
Information such as the package on alternative menstrual products produced
by the Nelson Environment Centre (Nelson Environment Centre, 1993)
could be distributed to information centres and other appropriate outlets;
backcountry recreation agencies, backcountry tourism agencies, tourist
accommodation agencies and outdoor education agencies so that the public
can become more informed about the issue of waste in backcountry areas.
All outdoor recreation clubs, outdoor education centres, schools, and
outdoor recreation tourism agencies should be informed on the appropriate
disposal of menstrual waste.

EDUCATION
All people involved in outdoor education, outdoor recreation, and
backcountry tourism, should be educated on the issues surrounding
menstruation in the backcountry and potential solutions to these issues.
All conservation estate managers, outdoor education, outdoor recreation and
backcountry tourism managers should be educated about the issues
surrounding menstruation in the backcountry and the disposal of menstrual
waste so that appropriate policies can be developed and implemented.

FACILITIES AND EQUIPMENT
Make specific mention of menstrual waste in notices about waste disposal
displayed on toilet facilities and in huts to highlight the need to include this
waste in rubbish carried home. The words "including sanitary products"
should be added to statements which advise people to carry home all their
rubbish.
"Carry-home" bags provided by DoC or other agencies could include specific
mention of menstrual waste. The words "including sanitary products" could
be added where appropriate.
"Carry-home" bags could be available in dark colours and with air-tight
closures to facilitate carrying-home of used menstrual products
Signs placed in all backcountry toilet facilities should clearly indicate
whether or not menstrual waste can be disposed of via the toilet system, and
what alternative methods are to be used if not the toilet.
Hand wash facilities should be provided inside all toilet cubicles in order to
facilitate general hygiene and the washing of reusable menstrual products.
Development of a reusable container for the carrying home of used
menstrual products could be encouraged so that reliance on disposable
plastic bags is reduced in the long term.

OTHER
Research should be conducted on potential health problems arising from a
policy of carrying home waste from the backcountry. Encouraging people to
carry home waste (including used toilet paper, menstrual products and
infant diapers) may result in health problems arising from the dumping of
faecal matter and blood in either road-end rubbish receptacles or urban
refuse tips.
Any agency developing policy about the disposal of menstrual waste should
seek Maori advice regarding the impact of waste disposal practices on Maori
spiritual

Art Sandt
(artsandt) - F
Re: Re: well... on 06/18/2009 15:07:53 MDT Print View

>>Your description sounds as if you are talking about a site without evidence others have camped there

Bob, yes and no. There are trails where I live with clear rules about camping/building fires 100' from the trail and still you see fire rings less than 5' from the trail's tread at sites that are not obvious camping spots (i.e. not near water, not near a scenic overlook).

>>In that case, I would suggest avoiding the fire all together. While it is possible to have a fire and clean up after yourself so that others will not be able to see you had one, it is not as simple as just dismantling a fire ring. Most people will not (or cannot, or do not know how to) clean up the fire site properly. Best to just avoid it.

I agree that simply not building a fire is cleaner and more LNT, and that most people don't know how to properly clean up a fire site. However, 1) some people just like fires. A properly built fire is not going to burn down the woods and CAN be cleaned up to make it look like there never was a fire at that site. I've done it and I've been unable to find traces of my fire when I've returned to the same site a week later. So, I've got nothing against somebody who wants to build a fire when he/she goes camping. 2) Whether a group of campers properly cleans up their charred logs is minor, though (in my eyes anyway). Logs decompose on a timescale measurable in years, and an ash pile tends to wash away after enough rain has fallen on it. Stone fire rings will be there for millennia.

>>some people take that to mean scattering existing fire rings at sites that are already heavily used. Doing so is a bad idea, because it just strews blackened rock around and encourages proliferation of fire sites -- better to have the repeated fires and black rocks at a single place.

Heavily used is sometimes a tricky characteristic to apply to a campsite. Given the right [read: wrong] set of campers, a single night's stay can make any patch of woods look like a heavily used campsite. If the campsite is at a likely spot, in a popular hiking/camping area, then yes you're right in that it would be pointless and often undesirable to dismantle the fire ring. However, I do believe that periodically cleaning up even heavily used backcountry campsites is a good idea. It lets a patch of woods recover. Dismantle the fire ring, drag sticks and brush over the trampled ground, let the woods take back the site, and let future campers find another spot. Also, if the fire ring clearly is not at a likely spot, (or, if likely, not desirable) I think it's best to clean up the campsite in that case too. Prevent things from getting out of control in the future and make the woods look more wild and less like an RV park.

Edited by artsandt on 06/18/2009 15:23:04 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: well... on 06/18/2009 16:21:14 MDT Print View

Hi RogT

> considering the number of meals cooked on wood fires and butane and white gas stoves
> in australia .... would you say that a small wood fire was more or less easy to control
> than the occasional malfunctioning butane or white gas stove?

A small wood fire is MUCH harder to control under Australian conditions, especially when there is any wind - which often happens. And I am aware of a small number of cases where tourist campfires have been left to smoulder and have caused a wild-fire. But not many - we (Australians) do tend to be a bit paranoid in the summer.

But you raised another point: malfunctioning stoves. I know (how could I avoid it!) that lighting a white gas stove seems to involve a bit of a fire ball. All the same, I am not aware of any cases in Australia where a liquid fuel stove used by a walker has been implicated in starting a wild-fire. I may have missed one or two of course.

I am definitely NOT aware of any incidents where a canister stove has caused any problems when handled by a walker. In fact, the National Parks Services here have gone so far as to install FREE gas BBQs at some sites to prevent tourists from lighting wood fires.

I guess you have to live here to really appreciate the volatile nature of our bush.

Cheers

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/18/2009 16:25:21 MDT Print View

> I guess it's OK to bury macaroni and cheese boxes

That would be regarded completely unethical in Australia. Food packaging is designed to resist degradation for a long time. Pack it in; pack it out.

TP is designed to rot down quickly, and does so.

Cheers

Richard Matthews
(food) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Re: Re: We're stuck on semantics still. on 06/18/2009 16:36:51 MDT Print View

Craig,

"I think the current sad (and worsening) state of the global environment is a product of nothing but profound alienation and separation.

Coming back to nature, realizing we're one with it, that we're not separate?"

Well said!!!! If you believe in evolution then logically humans ARE a part of nature. It is sad that as a culture we fear nature rather than live in harmony.

Brian,

Words do matter and the NO part of LNT was an unfortunate word choice, but an entire industry has been built around that trademark/logo/slogan. It might be easier to remove one of the Olympic rings.

I disagree with the LNT guideline that directs us to step downhill off the trail to give horses the right of way. Ray Jardine says to sep off uphill. The mule wranglers in the Grand Canyon have to step off uphill. It was a political compromise to get horse associations to adopt the guidelines. Hikers got sold out.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Re: Re: We're stuck on semantics still. on 06/18/2009 16:57:57 MDT Print View

"If you believe in evolution then logically humans ARE a part of nature. It is sad that as a culture we fear nature rather than live in harmony."

You can't disentangle humans from nature in any philosophical argument, but imagine the disaster if all 6 billion of us decided to go bush and find our roots! 6 billion of any large mammal would overwhelm most fragile wilderness ecologies. 6 billion bears pooing in the woods, even without TP...!!

John Frederick Anderson
(fredfoto) - F

Locale: Spain
Leave no trace on 06/18/2009 17:02:28 MDT Print View

Leave no trace sounds like a great idea, but philisophically and empirically impossible- we leave a trace, even if we don't see it- It's not really an achievable objective, although an admirable one. Reminds me of solipsism.

I would agree that in popular sites, or high traffic areas, preservation of a wilderness experience has to be managed for sustainability.

I try leave minimal trace, no fires when I'm hiking (easy for me as I've spent most of my life hiking in total fire ban zones here in the lower Pyrenees and Australia) and packing out everything I bring that won't decompose, except my numbers one and two, which happily decomposes under a rock/ on a tree, along with the tons of other numbers from every other creatures in the vicinity. It's part of a wider conversation between species that nobody understands.

If I'm not hiking, but camping in a previously used site for a week or so, say fishing a remote river in the Snowy Mountains, or a trip deep into the bush, and there's a fire site, I'll use it for sure. I'll even make one myself for that length of time- done properly and safely. Horses for courses.

Ethics, in general, is a nebulous subject, and eventually distils to opinion, which is variable.

This probably doesn't help, but what the hell!

cheers,
fred

Edited by fredfoto on 06/18/2009 17:04:53 MDT.

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
quick fix? on 06/18/2009 17:10:04 MDT Print View

Can this be solved by taking the acronym LNT and adding a little line on the N to make it into a M?

Then "Leave No Trace" could become "Leave Minimal Trace" (which is what it really meant all along anyway).

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: oh my. on 06/18/2009 17:25:13 MDT Print View

"did you have an LNT nun who hit you with an LNT ruler when you were a child? :)"

If a nun hits you with a ruler, it WILL leave a trace. ;)

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
nope. on 06/18/2009 18:13:36 MDT Print View

... not if she's a LNT nun. it hurts, but it doesn't leave any sign. :)

ouch!

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/18/2009 20:04:13 MDT Print View

Two interesting and thought provoking books to read on this topic were written by Guy & Laura Waterman..."Backwood Ethics" and "Wilderness Ethics." I'm sure that they would raise even more debate, but they do lay down some framework to this discussion if you are interested. Might be at your local library.

Monty Montana
(TarasBulba) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/19/2009 10:00:03 MDT Print View

Another excellent and informative resource is the NOLS book, Soft Paths, by Bruce Hampton and David Cole. In it you'll find a pretty cogent discussion of TP and feminine hygene products, fire rings, etc. in all conceivable environments.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Leave No Trace on 06/19/2009 14:05:45 MDT Print View

Ok, I will now attack champions of both sides of this argument:

I have no problem with the "No" in Leave No Trace. I agree that it is used in a loose, philosophical way and, frankly, is a lot catchier than "Do your best to maybe leave minimal trace."

That said, I often bury my TP. And then, of course, I do feel a twinge of guilt about it, because it isn't NO trace. This forces me to think about what I am doing, and I am mature and rational enough to understand that the "no" CANNOT be absolute. But being reminded to think about burying my TP, and being able to say to myself "there's a healthy, vigorous biome here and the TP will quickly reduce, etc." is a Good Thing. If I can't convince myself, I pack it out.

On the other hand, Craig, you did commit a blatant straw man attack. You made the argument:

burying toilet paper = burying all sorts of other trash

which is false. And not what the other debater was proposing. He was proposing burying toilet paper, not metallized waxed milk cartons. Straw man. Make a better argument.

When you said something like "I nonetheless consider burying TP to be littering." well, a lot of people here agree with you. Obviously. And then we could have proceeded to debate that point, as eventually happened after a 2 page delay. (And, for the record, the Slippery Slope is a fallacious argument, too.)

On the third hand- I also am elitist enough to like a set of guidelines like LNT to rein in Joe Sixpack. I will readily violate them myself, though, when it is reasonable, because I am Better Than Everyone Else, just like all of you. :-)

Edited by acrosome on 06/19/2009 14:07:28 MDT.

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
Minimal Impact on 06/19/2009 14:42:09 MDT Print View

I will hereby refer to this topic in conversation with others as "Minimal Impact".

It makes more sense and is achievable. The phrase "Leave No Trace" taken literally means that my feet may not even touch the trail, since that will leave a clear trace of my passage.

Not even ultralight backpacking enables me to fly above the surface of the trail.

But I can do my best to have Minimal Impact not only on the trail, but (environmentally) in every other aspect of my life.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Leave No Trace on 06/19/2009 16:24:09 MDT Print View

It seems there's quite a passion for the literal word around here.


I'll continue going TP free.
I'll continue trying my best to leave NO trace.


And if I ever dislodge a pebble or blow a snot rocket onto a boulder and walk away...well, I guess I've left a trace. You're all more than welcome to refer me to the proper authorities. If I'm to be condemned for what I'm trying to do then all is lost anyway.

:)

Jack Scheckton
(Meestajack) - F

Locale: Brooklyn
I've been thinking about this... on 06/19/2009 18:17:59 MDT Print View

I practice "minimal trace" backpacking, pack out all of my own trash, and any other I find on the trail... but I do bury TP, and my hiking poles have carbide tips.

This is primarly in 2nd growth hiking areas within a hundred miles or so of NYC. But I'll probably pack out TP when I visit more sensitive and areas in the future.

overall I think the LNT guidelines were a response to the woodcraft style of outdoorsmanship that was popular up until the backpacking boom of the 60s/70s... and when contrasted with the hatchet carrying leanto building droves of the 50s, I think buried TP is fairly minimal.

I was taught when I began backpacking (a couple of years ago) to carefully burn TP and extinguish before burying... does anyone have thoughts on this for less fire prone areas? Is this a practice I should unlearn quickly? or would it still be considered a reasonable method?

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: I've been thinking about this... on 06/19/2009 18:44:10 MDT Print View

"I was taught when I began backpacking (a couple of years ago) to carefully burn TP and extinguish before burying... does anyone have thoughts on this for less fire prone areas? Is this a practice I should unlearn quickly? or would it still be considered a reasonable method?"

It's all I've ever done. It's as close to LNT as I'll ever get and I think anyone would be hard pressed to find where I buried my poo. I suspect I'm not alone in this regard. I think it is certainly better than just burying the TP unincinerated. Only time it is less than optimal is when it's very windy, but I just take a bottle of water with me and find a very sheltered spot. No problems in 35 years.
You should read previous threads on this subject. It has been very thoroughly discussed.

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
Burn TP??!! on 06/19/2009 19:26:45 MDT Print View

If you burn your TP here in one of the SoCal forests, you'll run a high risk of starting a very large fire. Even if you've done it for years elsewhere.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/19/2009 20:10:53 MDT Print View

I've seen some rather large groups of backpackers on trails (10-15 people

I had a quiet chuckle when I read that. Here in Japan it is very common to see groups of a hundred or more! And you should see the erosion of the trails! Some have been worn down so much that the trails have become gullies and ravines and you walk all day looking at embankments of mud and soil.. Many mountains in Japan have been so heavily overused that trail crews have had to build kilometer after kilometer of stairs and boardwalks just to keep people from trampling the habitat.

And since it is a tradition to greet every person you pass as you walk, just imagine what it is like when you have to stop every few seconds to say "Konnichiwa!" (Good Day!) to hundreds and hundreds of people in one day! I once left my camp at dawn and had the morning to myself, but at around nine, when the first waves of hiking mobs arrived from the trailheads below, I ended up greeting over 500 people as I headed down off the mountain. Needless to say I was irritated! By the time the sixth one-hundred strong group started passing me by I stopped the leader and gave him my mind, telling him that it was exhausting and disruptive and inconsiderate to force me to pass and wait for all those people all the time. He was very understanding, and obviously had never considered how it would impact people moving in the opposite direction.

So, a lot of the semantics that all you lot are getting all steamed up about is really kind of small potatoes for people from places like I live. Here it is not a question of becoming invisible; it is more a question of not crapping on the neighbor whose tent is just 50 centimeters away. There is no doubt at all here that humans are the problem. I guess people in America and Australia still have the luxury of seeing the world in the eyes of the cowboys and swagmen, but those places where the land is smaller and populations are bigger somehow, someway we have to find rules that will both minimize our impact and still allow us to love and enjoy the natural world.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Burn TP??!! on 06/19/2009 21:01:17 MDT Print View

"If you burn your TP here in one of the SoCal forests, you'll run a high risk of starting a very large fire. Even if you've done it for years elsewhere."

Agreed. Obviously, judgment is mandatory. One more reason why I would never hike in SoCal forests. I promise to forever do my hiking elsewhere. (BIG SMILEY)

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
re:re: Burn TP on 06/19/2009 21:18:15 MDT Print View

"Agreed. Obviously, judgment is mandatory. One more reason why I would never hike in SoCal forests. I promise to forever do my hiking elsewhere. (BIG SMILEY)"

Sigh...and to think I used to live and hike in Oregon!

Art Sandt
(artsandt) - F
Re: Burn TP??!! on 06/19/2009 22:17:05 MDT Print View

Alright, I've got to ask. Doesn't it smell really bad when you burn TP? I've never even thought to do it.


Miguel, Greeting the people you pass by on a trail is common etiquette here in the States too. Groups of a hundred hikers at a time is insanity, though.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Leave No Trace Ethics on 06/20/2009 01:26:59 MDT Print View

Miguel, Greeting the people you pass by on a trail is common etiquette here in the States too. Groups of a hundred hikers at a time is insanity, though.

Hi Art, yes, I know that greetings are part of the whole hiking mindset in the States (and Europe and most everywhere else), too, and I really love how people start to open up and consider each other when in the wilds, but here it is not just etiquette... it's etiquette with a social stigma if you don't do it. More like a rictus smiled requirement. By the time half the day is over you feel like you've been chanting the same meaningless verse over and over again. Of course there are exceptions and I've met some truly wonderful people on the trails here, but hundreds of people is just nuts.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
TP research on 06/20/2009 13:12:12 MDT Print View

Here are interim results of a TP decomposition study from Tasmania:

www.crctourism.com.au/WMS/Upload/Resources/bookshop/humanwaste.pdf

The full results have been published, but I can't get to them for free.

Evidently, peeing on your TP makes it decompose faster, probably because the nutrients in the urine promote bacterial/fungal/plant growth. And, contrary to what I've heard before, TP breaks down faster in "drier" soil. That's probably a relative term, though, as I don't think Tasmania has deserts, right? I think they just mean that burying TP in a wetland is a Bad Idea.

Unfortunately, it doesn't give any indication of how long it takes the TP to totally decompose.

Here's the study from Nova Scotia, describing decomposition times and coliform counts for human poo:

www.wrweo.ca/backup/HumanWasteStudy.doc

Very spellbinding reading. This is the one that shows that poo decomposes SLOWER when buried.

Can anyone explain why the filter thinks "fece$" and "p00p" are naughty words?

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: re:re: Burn TP on 06/20/2009 18:41:44 MDT Print View

"Sigh...and to think I used to live and hike in Oregon!"

Don't go back; It's been Californicated. :}

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Burn TP??!! on 06/20/2009 18:45:05 MDT Print View

"Alright, I've got to ask. Doesn't it smell really bad when you burn TP? I've never even thought to do it."

Depends on your diet. Heavy on the meat and it smells like a burning tire; Vegetarian and you could smoke trout over it. ;-)

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: TP research on 06/20/2009 18:58:28 MDT Print View

"I think they just mean that burying TP in a wetland is a Bad Idea."

It makes a lot of sense, Dean. Rapid and complete decomposition is generally aerobic, and a saturated soil is deficient in oxygen. Similar to peat bogs and well preserved wooden ships buried in sediment on the bottom of the Black Sea for ~2500 years. Also, in the case of Nova Scotia, it is cooler, as well as wetter, and both have an effect on decomposition rates. I have been burying and burning up in the Sierra for a long time and have found the decomposition process to be complete by the time I return 10 months to a year later. It could take even less time, but I have no way of knowing. But the Sierra is quite dry, definitely not a saturated soil.

"Can anyone explain why the filter thinks "fece$" and "p00p" are naughty words?"

I could take a stab at it, but I don't want to start another flame war or, worse yet, holy war. :-))

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: TP research on 06/21/2009 14:20:38 MDT Print View

Details from the Discussion of Tasmanian paper:

4. Discussion and conclusions

Unbleached toilet paper does break down faster than bleached toilet paper and tissues. However, tampons stand out as being most resistant to decay, with the other products not strongly differentiated in their rates.

The sites that recorded the greatest decay rates were those that were warm, relatively dry and not acidic (Table 5). Breakdown of most products was well advanced within 6 months of burial at these sites. Microbial activity, measured by cellulase assay, was also greater at these sites (Bridle et al. unpublished data). Line (1998) found that the cellulose flocking used in disposable nappies decayed after 5 months in warm environments with neutral, fertile soils.

The independent variables that were incorporated in the models of decay (Table 4) are largely consistent with those that are associated with peat formation, which occurs in cold and/or waterlogged and/or acid places (Moore and Bellamy, 1974). Indeed the two sites that exhibited little decay after 24 months (montane moorland and western alpine) had organic soil profiles, while the others had mineral soils with a surface organic horizon of varying depths. The importance of cations (both measured directly, and indicated by pH), relatively dry soils and high temperatures in promoting disintegration has been noted for cotton strip assays in a wide variety of environments (Harrison et al., 1988). Higher decay rates during the late summer–autumn period than during the spring–early summer period has also been reported elsewhere (French, 1988). However, our data show that three sites (coastal eucalypt, subalpine rainforest, montane moorland) recorded greater decay in the cooler months than in the warmer months for the fertilised bags. There was no significant difference for decay within the same treatments but between times for any of the other sites. The difference in decay between the seasons is likely to be related to precipitation patterns during the sampling times. The autumn–winter bags were buried in 2000, while the spring–summer bags were buried in 2001–2002. There was a severe drought during 2000, and heavy summer rainfall during the spring–summer of 2001–2002. Rainfall is an important indicator of decay for fertilised bags (Table 4). The greater decay in the drier period is consistent with our model (Table 5).

Depth of burial is an important factor in decay at sites where soils freeze (Lawson, 1988). Under such conditions, there is a difference in decay with depth down the soil profile during the early summer, though this difference is not evident later in the season. Our data show depth of burial to be largely unimportant across all sites in Tasmania, but in wetter areas where water tables are within 15 cm of the surface, paper products are likely to decay more readily at 5 cm depth than at 15 cm depth. While decay may be slightly enhanced at shallower burial depths, access of faeces to native animals and transport of faecal bacteria may occur more readily at 5 cm depth than at 15 cm depth. The burial of waste under rocks at the soil surface does not increase decay, and is inadvisable from a public health point of view (Bridle et al., 2003).

It has been shown that the addition of nutrients via sewage sludge enhanced decomposition of cotton-strips compared to an untreated control soil (Obbard and Jones, 1993). The addition of both N and P to cotton strip assays in an Everglades marsh led to greater decomposition than was recorded for the addition of only one of the elements, especially where the strips were buried in the peat layer rather than in the water column (Maltby, 1988). There was no relationship between C/N ratios and breakdown success. This finding has also been documented for the decay of coarse woody debris in forest environments (Mackensen et al., 2003).

Research into the decay of coarse woody debris in forest environments showed temperature to be an important determinant of decay (Mackensen et al., 2003), but initial density of the wood was also important. These results can be related back to tampon decay, as tampons are much denser than toilet paper or tissues.

Mackensen et al. (2003) found a relationship between annual rainfall and decay rates, where decay was less at sites that received more than 1300 mm of rainfall. Ineson et al. (1988) suggested that that potential evaporation could be a good predictor of cellulose decay. We have developed a simple index of decay that is also based on temperature, rainfall and pH. The index is derived from two classes of mean annual precipitation (> 650 mm=1, < 650 mm=2), mean annual temperature (<13 °C=1, >13 °C=2) and pH (<4.5=1, >4.5=2). This index reconstructs the order of mean decay using all 6 month autumn–winter, 12 month and 24 month data (Table 5). A score of three on this index indicates that 2 years is insufficient for decay of all paper products buried in the soil, even when fertilised with faeces or urine. A score of six indicates a rapid dissolution of products, whether fertilised or not. This index may be exportable to other parts of the world.
4.1. Implications for management

A key question in deciding the implications for management of our decay data is the social and environmental acceptability of different periods of persistence of human waste disposal products in the soil. Social acceptability relates to the probability of excavating the evidence of a past faecal burial event, when undertaking preparations for a new event. This probability can be high in some well-used places (von Platen, 2002; authors unpublished data). Environmental acceptability relates to variation from the natural condition of the soil, which would obviously be considerable where deposits remain intact over several years. In the western alpine and high altitude moorland environments decay is extremely slow. In our judgement it is both socially and environmentally undesirable to continue to advise people to bury their wastes in these environments. This would not be a major imposition on walkers, as locations in these environments are usually in close proximity to forest or scrub vegetation, which provide more privacy than buttongrass moorland and alpine vegetation.

If anything is to be carried out, tampons are an appropriate target. Current MIB prescriptions request that tampons are carried out and not buried in the ground. As this is a simple and broad-ranging message with little public health risk to the walker, we suggest that the message is retained, despite the relatively successful decay of tampons, albeit after 2 years at some of the sites.

Walkers may place their wastes under rocks in alpine areas because they are reluctant to damage alpine vegetation by digging. We hope that the results of this research and those from our vegetation study (Bridle and Kirkpatrick, 2003) will convince them that it is less environmentally harmful to bury their waste than to leave it exposed.

Soil depth proved sufficient in parts of all our sites to enable burial of waste at 15 cm, as is suggested by the code. However, obstructions such as roots, rocks or very hard clay soil made it difficult to dig a hole 15 cm deep at some sites. Digging to that depth was impossible to severely challenging at most sites using plastic trowels of the kind sold in many outdoor stores. There is a need for prescriptions in the MIB guidelines on the strength and quality of trowels. Burial at 5 cm does present some relatively low chance of excavation by animals, compared to 15 cm, so the 15 cm recommendation in the code should stand.

Recent research which aimed to determine the impact of the addition of real faeces and urine on toilet paper decay, showed similar responses over a one year period to the results we have detailed above. Results from two extreme sites (coastal eucalypt and montane moorland) were consistent with the data presented in this paper (von Platen, 2002). While the presence of faeces may have allowed additional bacteria to survive in the environment, toilet paper decay was not significantly enhanced in a 6-month-period.

The above results suggest that the minimum impact bushwalking code should be amended to: (1) to recommend no disposal of faeces, toilet paper or tissues in treeless vegetation above 800 m in western Tasmania; (2) to emphasise that placement of waste under rocks causes more environmental harm than disposal by burial, even in alpine environments; (3) to emphasise that strong metal trowels are necessary to excavate holes for defecation in most wild places. The significantly longer decomposition times for tampons compared to toilet paper supports the current policy of carrying out tampons.

Guidelines should also advise walkers to choose their toilet site carefully. Choose a well-drained soil in woody vegetation rather than a poorly drained soil or peat in alpine or moorland vegetation.

The index we derived for predicting the speed of decay of human waste disposal products requires testing outside Tasmania, to determine its potential universality.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
faecal burial events on 06/22/2009 07:50:45 MDT Print View

I think we should all now refer to our catholes by the correct scientific term, "faecal burial event." Or, perhaps, as an "FBE." The term cathole, after all, is pejorative towards felines.

P.S. Where did you find the complete paper, Lynn? Is it public?

If not, can you post results, not just conclusions? I'd like to know the decomposition rates for use as ammunition in future, ahem, "debates" with LNT zealots- I'm lookin' at YOU, Craig! :-) Plus, it may lead to a better understanding on my part about when it is OK to bury and when I need to pack out.

I don't bury at high-use sites, but then I generally avoid high-use areas in favor of solitude. I suspect that many here share this preference with me. I'm open to tweaking my other guilt-induction criteria regarding water table, rainfall, pH, etc. I guess I'll just have to pack the extra 0.0001-oz of pH paper. Oh, Wait! I could just Wipe With pH Paper! Multi-Use Victory! :-)

Edited by acrosome on 06/22/2009 08:06:54 MDT.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: faecal burial events on 06/22/2009 13:46:27 MDT Print View

Dean, the papers are not publically available, and I'm not quite sure how to post the graphs and tables. Maybe this is something I should learn how to do...?

Essentially all treatments were 'successful' by 24 months, with or without toilet paper, and with or without burial or urine.

Results:

The control treatment had significantly higher values
than one or more of the other treatments in 8 cases, and
significantly less in 10 cases (Table 4). The urine treatment
had significantly higher values than one or more of the other
treatments in 14 cases and significantly less in 7 cases
(Table 4). The dig treatment showed the reverse pattern with
3 and 14, respectively, while the dig and urine treatment had
8 in each class (Table 4). This differentiation by treatment is
significant (Chi-square ¼ 9.2, d.f. ¼ 3, P , 0:01), with the
urine treatment having more positive outcomes than
expected and the dig treatment having more negative
outcomes than expected.
There were no significant treatment effects in either of
the rainforest sites. Both alpine sites showed some effects.
In the western alpine environment the shrub, Monotoca
submutica, was positively affected by the dig and urine
treatment whereas bryophytes were negatively affected by
the treatments involving urine. In the eastern alpine
environment 6 non-woody taxa were favoured by urine
additions, and the scores on the second axis of the cover
ordination were significantly different between the urine
treatment and the rest (Table 4).
At the montane moorland site, the dominant shrub,
Melaleuca squamea, was favoured by the combination of
digging and urine, the shrub, Epacris lanuginosa, was
favoured by urine without digging, and the restiad,
Eurychorda complanata, was favoured by both the urine
treatments (Table 4). Bare ground was significantly greater
in the digging treatment than in the urine or control
treatments, litter cover decreased in quadrats where urine
was added and the scores on the second axis of the coverordination differentiated between the urine treatment and
the rest (Table 4).
The eucalypt forest sites did not individually exhibit as
many significant treatment effects as the montane moorland
and eastern alpine sites. At the montane eucalypt site urine
additions promoted native grass cover (Table 4). In the
grassy eucalypt forest urine also promoted native grass
cover, while it decreased litter cover (Table 4). The cover
ordination scores also indicated a strong effect of urine
additions (Table 4). At the heathy eucalypt site urine also
decreased litter cover, and on cover ordination axis 2 the
scores were significantly different between the control and
the urine treatment (Table 4). At the coastal eucalypt forest
urine increased the cover of the rhizomatous sedge,
Lepidosperma concavum(Table 4).

As you can see, the results are specific to Tasmanian flora, soils and weather.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: faecal burial events on 06/22/2009 18:38:56 MDT Print View

"Oh, Wait! I could just Wipe With pH Paper! Multi-Use Victory! :-)"

What if it turned the wrong color? ;}

On a more serious note, I think we are in danger of over analyzing one of the most basic biological processes in the biosphere. Decomposition occurs everywhere there is undecomposed organic matter. Throw together dead leaves and green vegetable matter and in a matter of months, given access to oxygen and a minimal amount of water, you will have compost. The basic substrate required is carbon and nitrogen, in roughly a 20:1 ratio, along with trace amounts of sulphur, phosphorus, calcium, etc, generally present in undecomposed organic matter. The process may be more, or less, efficient depending on how optimal the substrate ratios and temperature are, as well as availability of oxygen and water. It will proceed nonetheless, for the bacteria and fungi that decompose organic matter are present in every soil, everywhere and function over a wide temperature range. Fecal matter and TP are just one more feast for the little critters.





to feed the process.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: faecal burial events on 06/22/2009 22:14:25 MDT Print View

> we are in danger of over analyzing one of the most basic biological processes in the
> biosphere. Decomposition occurs everywhere there is undecomposed organic matter

A rare note of sanity in an otherwise weird debate. Thank you Tom.

Cheers

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Does a bear..... on 06/22/2009 22:49:37 MDT Print View

Do the best you can!

Ashes to ashes
Dust to dust
When I have to poo
I must, I must!

Stay away from the water, dig a real hole. Cover it up good and wash your hands.

I wonder if there is some enzyme that hikers could carry that would aid the process-- or would that just create more havoc? Maybe the enzyme could be incorporated into the toilet paper? Proably give us a rash....

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Re: Re: faecal burial events on 06/23/2009 05:03:37 MDT Print View

>> we are in danger of over analyzing one of the most basic biological processes in the
>> biosphere. Decomposition occurs everywhere there is undecomposed organic matter

> A rare note of sanity in an otherwise weird debate. Thank you Tom.

Not really. We aren't talking about science so much, except as a way to support an esthetic position. We are, after all, talking about leaving stuff sitting about decomposing in wilderness areas. I would propose that coming upon a decaying pile of leaves is esthetically discrete from coming upon a decaying pile of used TP. :-)

If I may be allowed to engage in behavior for which I have just criticized others- I will now indulge in BOTH a reductio ad absurdum AND a strawman attack, to whit: One could take Tom's comments to the ridiculous extreme that Craig mentioned- claiming that it is acceptable to dump ANYTHING that will decompose in the wilderness at will, even if it takes a long time to decompose and it unsightly. (I know that this is NOT what you were saying, Tom, but bear with me...) Obviously there is a level of acceptable dumping somewhere. We are just discussing where that line is, according to our individual beliefs. Craig puts the line at zero-tolerance. I do not.

Thus, yes, I would actually like to know how long it takes the stuff to decompose into unrecognizability, and what I can easily do to speed up the process.

Lynn- I ordered the paper through my library. I should have a copy in a few days. Hopefully it'll have more references that I can look up. Thanks.

Edited by acrosome on 06/23/2009 05:16:08 MDT.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Re: Re: faecal burial events on 06/23/2009 13:40:12 MDT Print View

" I ordered the paper through my library. I should have a copy in a few days. Hopefully it'll have more references that I can look up"

To me the upshot of those papers is that, long term buried toilet paper does *little harm* in most environments, and that the nutrient impact of leaving human waste (and whether to bury or not), depends on the specific conditions. Some organisms are actually *enhanced* by the extra nutrients or by having the soil turned, others are decreased, and yet others are not changed. And it all decomposes around two years.

tp

To me, the issue is still one of aethetics more than environment. In a remote area, I will bury if convenient, or leave it where no one else is likely to find it for two years if not convenient (preferably exposed to full UV light for rapid deconatmination). In high use areas, there is alsmost always a supplied toilet of some kind, so I use that. It's really only the intermediate use areas where some discretion is advised!