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View Poll Results: Would you turn in people burning trash in the fire pit. (choose one or more)
Tell the host 13 30.23%
Ask a Ranger 11 25.58%
Let them know at the front gate 5 11.63%
Mind your own business 21 48.84%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 43. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 08-13-2012, 11:22 AM   #11
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Burning anything other than charcoal or firewood at camp is a pet peeve of mine. I don't like the smell of burning cardboard, paper, napkins, cereal boxes, etc. and especially loathe plastic, foam, food, tires, etc. If I find evidence of trash in my firepit or site, I tell the ranger in no uncertain terms that the mess was there when I arrived.

Recently I stayed at the group site at Van Buren State Park. MI and there was probably half a garbage bag full of eggshells, pancakes, scrambled egg, ad infinitum right behind the big park style grill. I reported it to the ranger and by the time I had walked back to the site 3 rangers showed up with rakes and shovels to clean it up. Hopefully they sent the offenders a citation.

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Old 08-14-2012, 11:03 AM   #12
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Maybe a little off subject but I just came back from a 4 day stay at a provincial campground in Northern Alberta and I always take care of my trash and put it in the local dumpster. I put all my cans and bottles in a plastic bag and bring them home for recycling. I did it this time as well and placed the bag which was filled with many plastic water bottles and a few wine bottles but when I got home the plastic bag was gone!!! I did not stop on the way home so somewhere on the highway my recycling was dumped. I don't feel too good about it and hope my garbage hit the curb and not over the highway. I'll know better next time.

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Old 08-14-2012, 10:11 PM   #13
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Old 09-05-2012, 10:17 PM   #14
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I burn paper; I actually save it and use it to help start my next fire.

We were on a trip with my brother this summer who recently bought a small ultra basic used popup. He has 4 girls and a dog. They camped next to us. I found the dogs (his and mine) one day licking the grass. I scratched my head and wondered why, then I realized, I was nice and opened the outside shower door, so they could have hot water. When they were done washing dishes, they dumped their dirty water on the ground right there. I also could not believe they kept telling their kids to toss the trash in our burning fire. The CG had place trash cans all over the CG and there was one between our two sites. I also caught their eldest daughter throwing food in the woods one night right behind the TTs, she told me that her dad told her to. I guess this is why we had raccoons all night every night.

Burning a little clean paper does not bother me. What bothers me is the Me First Society that does not think about how their actions affect others.
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Old 09-06-2012, 08:21 AM   #15
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We burn most paper products, that's it. We camp in black bear country (south-western NY and adirondacks) so food in the campfire is a no-no unless you want some large visitors. We used to bring grocery bags to use for garbage until I smartened up and bought a box of tall kitchen garbage bags for the camper. Now we just stick the big bag in the car at night. On the last day, I can throw the one bag in the campground's dumpster. Same with recycleables and returnables. One big bag for each then one trip to the recycling/garbage station on the way out. As for starting my fires, nothing works better than Yankee Candle's Kindle Candles. Plus, they smell nice in the cupboard as well as in the fire!
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Old 09-06-2012, 09:39 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by mcfarmall View Post
[snip] I don't like the smell of burning cardboard, paper, napkins, cereal boxes, etc. and especially loathe plastic, foam, food, tires, etc. [snip]
It some counties, it is illegal to burn any trash at all but I've never seen or heard of anyone being cited for burning paper or cardboard in a campfire ring (unless it is massive quantities). And I have worked an entire career as a Program Manager in Outdoor Recreation in several states in the midwest and lake states.

I completely understand about burning plastics, foam, and other such stuff, which not only smells up the whole campground, but gives off toxic gasses and leaves nasty residue for the next camper. Tires? Has anyone really been camping at a campground where someone is burning tires in the fire ring? What would be their purpose in doing so? Did they have a flattire on the way to the campground and then decide to dispose of their tire in the fire ring instead of bringing it home? Or did they bring old tires with them just to burn them? Seems highly unlikely, but I don't doubt that someone somewhere has experienced this.

Perhaps my nose is not as sensitive as some, but what does burning cardboard, paper and cereal boxes actually smell like? Yes, there is some bleach that is used in making napkins and paper white, and there is some ink on the cereal boxes (mostly soy based). But the overwhelming content of all of these are cellulose (the same thing as your firewood). I've never noticed a "smell" from any of these. On the other hand, I have camped next to people that burn some of the stinkiest wood I've ever smelled - boxelder, tree of heaven, balm of gilead, and any species when it isn't dry and full of water or rot.
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Old 09-06-2012, 12:46 PM   #17
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If it's the person next to me, I don't say anything unless big ashes from the paper start landing on my camper, and then I pay them a visit.
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Old 09-06-2012, 05:48 PM   #18
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Being a host in the summers, I can tell you aluminum cans don't burn, cigarette butts (filters) don't burn, egg shells don't burn and I could go on and on.

Please put all trash where it belongs so the host or other park person doesn't have to shovel it and so the next camper doesn't have to see the mess that was left by the previous camper.

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Old 09-06-2012, 06:01 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Seann45 View Post
Depends on the trash burning.. it it is just paper products NO PROBLEM... but plastic and food scraps is different...
I am okay with paper. Clean paper, I don't throw in dirty plates or scraps except the occasional marshmallow that hit the deck. I do start my fires with some ripped cardboard, small starters and newspaper that is not waxed or plasticized in anyway. Green wood and locust tree's I think put off more fumes than the few pieces I add to get the fire going.

Food, cans, glass and plastic have no buisness being in the pit IMHO. Now if you want to make some art and are melting a bottle on hot coals that's another story. I've seen that being done but it was fumeless and taken out the next day as a keepsake with a wine bottle. Took a long time though.

The dumping in the woods comment is just wrong and disrespectful to yor surroundings.

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Old 09-06-2012, 07:17 PM   #20
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In Scouts we teach "Leave no Trace" awareness. Although some of these practices apply to backpacking/high adventure, many others could learn a thing or two from this practice in regular campsites. http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/...veNoTrace.aspx

Leave No Trace Principles

The tremendous rewards of high-adventure treks are drawing more and more people to the backcountry. At the same time, the vast territory suitable for treks is shrinking in size. More people and less land mean we all must be careful not to endanger the wild outdoors we have come to enjoy.

A High-Adventure Ethic

A good way to protect the backcountry is to remember that while you are there, you are a visitor. When you visit a friend you are always careful to leave that person's home just as you found it. You would never think of dropping litter on the carpet, chopping down trees in the yard, putting soap in the drinking water, or marking your name on the living room wall. When you visit the backcountry, the same courtesies apply. Leave everything just as you found it.

Hiking and camping without a trace are signs of an expert outdoorsman, and of a Scout or Scouter who cares for the environment. Travel lightly on the land.

The Principles of "Leave No Trace"

"Leave No Trace" is a nationally recognized outdoor skills and ethics education program. The Boy Scouts of America is committed to this program. The principles of Leave No Trace are not rules; they are guidelines to follow at all times.

The Leave No Trace principles might not seem important at first glance, but their value is apparent when considering the combined effects of millions of outdoor visitors. One poorly located campsite or campfire is of little significance, but thousands of such instances seriously degrade the outdoor experience for all. Leaving no trace is everyone's responsibility.

Plan Ahead and Prepare

Proper trip planning and preparation helps hikers and campers accomplish trip goals safely and enjoyably while minimizing damage to natural and cultural resources. Campers who plan ahead can avoid unexpected situations, and minimize their impact by complying with area regulations such as observing limitations on group size.

Proper planning ensures

Low-risk adventures because campers obtained information concerning geography and weather and prepared accordingly
Properly located campsites because campers allotted enough time to reach their destination
Appropriate campfires and minimal trash because of careful meal planning and food repackaging and proper equipment
Comfortable and fun camping and hiking experiences because the outing matches the skill level of the participants
Camp and Travel on Durable Surfaces

Damage to land occurs when visitors trample vegetation or communities of organisms beyond recovery. The resulting barren areas develop into undesirable trails, campsites, and soil erosion.

Concentrate Activity, or Spread Out?

In high-use areas, campers should concentrate their activities where vegetation is already absent. Minimize resource damage by using existing trails and selecting designated or existing campsites.
In more remote, less-traveled areas, campers should generally spread out. When hiking, take different paths to avoid creating new trails that cause erosion. When camping, disperse tents and cooking activities-and move camp daily to avoid creating permanent-looking campsites. Always choose the most durable surfaces available: rock, gravel, dry grasses, or snow.
These guidelines apply to most alpine settings and may be different for other areas, such as deserts. Learn the Leave No Trace techniques for your crew's specific activity or destination. Check with land managers to be sure of the proper technique.

Pack It In, Pack It Out

This simple yet effective saying motivates backcountry visitors to take their trash home with them. It makes sense to carry out of the backcountry the extra materials taken there by your group or others. Minimize the need to pack out food scraps by carefully planning meals. Accept the challenge of packing out everything you bring.


Backcountry users create body waste and wastewater that require proper disposal.

Wastewater. Help prevent contamination of natural water sources: After straining food particles, properly dispose of dishwater by dispersing at least 200 feet (about 80 to 100 strides for a youth) from springs, streams, and lakes. Use biodegradable soap 200 feet or more from any water source.

Human Waste. Proper human waste disposal helps prevent the spread of disease and exposure to others. Catholes 6 to 8 inches deep and 200 feet from water, trails, and campsites are often the easiest and most practical way to dispose of feces.

Leave What You Find

Allow others a sense of discovery: Leave rocks, plants, animals, archaeological artifacts, and other objects as you find them. It may be illegal to remove artifacts.

Minimize Site Alterations

Do not dig tent trenches or build lean-tos, tables, or chairs. Never hammer nails into trees, hack at trees with hatchets or saws, or damage bark and roots by tying horses to trees for extended periods. Replace surface rocks or twigs that you cleared from the campsite. On high-impact sites, clean the area and dismantle inappropriate user-built facilities such as multiple fire rings and log seats or tables.

Good campsites are found, not made. Avoid altering a site, digging trenches, or building structures.

Minimize Campfire Use

Some people would not think of camping without a campfire. Yet the naturalness of many areas has been degraded by overuse of fires and increasing demand for firewood.

Lightweight camp stoves make low-impact camping possible by encouraging a shift away from fires. Stoves are fast, eliminate the need for firewood, and make cleanup after meals easier. After dinner, enjoy a candle lantern instead of a fire.

If you build a fire, the most important consideration is the potential for resource damage. Whenever possible, use an existing campfire ring in a well-placed campsite. Choose not to have a fire in areas where wood is scarce-at higher elevations, in heavily used areas with a limited wood supply, or in desert settings.

True Leave No Trace fires are small. Use dead and downed wood no larger than an adult's wrist. When possible, burn all wood to ash and remove all unburned trash and food from the fire ring. If a site has two or more fire rings, you may dismantle all but one and scatter the materials in the surrounding area. Be certain all wood and campfire debris is dead out.

Respect Wildlife

Quick movements and loud noises are stressful to animals. Considerate campers practice these safety methods:

Observe wildlife from afar to avoid disturbing them.
Give animals a wide berth, especially during breeding, nesting, and birthing seasons.
Store food securely and keep garbage and food scraps away from animals so they will not acquire bad habits. Help keep wildlife wild.
You are too close if an animal alters its normal activities.

"Leave No Trace" Information

For additional Leave No Trace information, contact your local land manager or local office of the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service, the National Park Service, or the Fish and Wildlife Service. Or, contact Leave No Trace at 800-332-4100 or on the Internet at http://www.lnt.org.

For posters, plastic cards listing the Leave No Trace principles, or information on becoming a Leave No Trace sponsor, contact Leave No Trace Inc., P.O. Box 997, Boulder, CO 80306, phone 303-442-8222.

Respect Others

Thoughtful campers

Travel and camp in small groups (no more than the group size prescribed by land managers).
Keep the noise down and leave their radios, tape players, and pets at home.
Select campsites away from other groups to help preserve their solitude.
Always travel and camp quietly to avoid disturbing other visitors.
Make sure the colors of their clothing and gear blend with the environment. (NOTE: During Hunting Season, it may be better safe than sorry and wear BRIGHT clothes - especially ORANGE Colors)
Respect private property and leave gates (open or closed) as found.
Be considerate of other campers and respect their privacy.

Master of Leave No Trace Training Course

Master of Leave No Trace training courses are available from the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in cooperation with four federal agencies (the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, National Park Service, and Fish and Wildlife Service). Approximately 18 courses are taught throughout the country each year in all types of environments from alpine tundra to deserts.

The Master of Leave No Trace course has three components:

low-impact camping skills,
wild-land ethics, and
teaching techniques.
A five-day field course provides students with a comprehensive overview of Leave No Trace techniques through practical application in a field setting comprising a short backcountry trip.

If you are interested in attending a Master of Leave No Trace course, call the Leave No Trace hotline at 800-332-4100 ext. 282. Also call that number for a list of Leave No Trace masters in your area.

Click Here to go to the USSSP Leave No Trace Program information area.

Click Here to see the requirements for the Leave No Trace Awareness Awards for Scouts, Venturers, Scouters, and Advisors

Wilderness Use

In addition to Leave No Trace, see the BSA Wilderness Use Policy.

Information provided by: Mike Philbrook, Skipper, Sea Scout Ship 1001, San Diego, CA

Page updated on: May 03, 2012

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