Leave No Trace Ethics
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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?