59

The problem with food waste at that elevation is that there is very little soil to bury things and that decomposition happens much slower at those altitudes. Sometimes there are still marmots/pikas at that elevation who will eat left over apples and such, the problem with that is then they become dependent on humans and can even become aggressive. ...


45

It's true that paper tissues biodegrade relatively quickly: this U.S. Bureau of Land Management page estimates 2-4 weeks. However, as the same page notes, Though most trash and litter in the backcountry is not significant in terms of the long term ecological health of an area, it does rank high as a problem in the minds of many backcountry visitors. Trash ...


44

My viewpoint: If it is unlikely to be seen before natural processes take care of it then disposal in the wilderness isn't unreasonable. Thus, below timberline, outside Jasper National Park, walking 10 feet off the trail to bury my orange peel is reasonable. At high elevation the decomp times are large -- years. There are situations where disposal of ...


40

The old advice is to "Take nothing but pictures, and leave nothing but footprints". Almost any amount of memento-taking is going to lead to some kind of impact in anything but the most isolated of areas. The details of what is and isn't legal are going to vary with the exact area you're in -in the US, Wilderness Areas, a national forests, Bureau of Land ...


35

In more temperate climates (forests, jungles, etc.) burying feces is preferred as it will be broken up by microbes in the soil while being somewhat protected from the environment. Plant growth in these areas is also rapid enough that cut roots are generally a non-issue. (I'm assuming you aren't hacking through larger roots.) In general the warmer the ...


33

It seems likes this is mostly an issue of scale, in well-traveled areas where lots of people go it's not going to make a lot of difference, while remote areas that could possibly see lots of sudden traffic, it would not be a good thing. Also was one to be an "outdoor influencer" with thousands and thousands of followers rather than an average ...


33

If you are on a photo safari where you take pictures of endangered big-game animals (elephants, rhinos, lions, etc.), do not geotag your images. Poachers are known to check the geoinformation from such pictures in order to locate the territories of these animals. According to this article, signs like this can be found in wildlife reserves in South Africa: ...


28

Should I understand a water source to mean a spring/well, or any place where hikers may collect water (streams, lakes, etc.)? Yes. Any source of water - no matter how large or small - should be avoided when choosing a camp site. 100 meters is just a guideline, 200 meters is better. 200 meters and out of sight is great. The reasons are several-fold: ...


28

Generally speaking in the US, you can collect as much as you want from the gift shops. Otherwise, everything else is strictly forbidden.


27

My general experience is that the problem is really that most tourists are focused in some very tiny but extraordinary popular areas. For example I have seen places in the Rockies where you need to book your camping place slots months in advance... But if you simply visit the next valley over (literally, distance was probably some 5-10km) you can walk for a ...


26

Leave no Trace The basic guideline is do not leave your feces anywhere that it can be discovered or uncovered in the future. As far as upsetting the ecosystem equilibrium, good luck with that, there are much bigger things than you in the woods are that are indiscriminately defecating on the ground and in watercourses. It's less of a sanitary hazard to the ...


23

When it's unsuitable for removal by your group, contact the relevant authority for that land and let them know the type of litter and its location (pictures and GPS coordinates are helpful). For example, in cases of extreme littering, U.S. federal land management agencies will sometimes organize major cleanup efforts to pack out trash with mules or even a ...


22

Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). It's naturally occurring, and to get a level of toxicity to animals you would need to get to 450mg per liter. Unless you're operating a mine or using literally tons of the stuff, it's quite safe and you'll never get near that. From a 2008 USGS study: Chronic toxicity was observed at concentrations that ranged from 450 ...


22

Even for "multi-week" trips, brushing with water alone is not going to compromise your tooth health. The abrasive action of the brush does most of the work, and missing the flouride hit for a few days won't affect your teeth in the least. Plus, it saves weight. So, the best LNT option: don't use it. If you MUST use toothpaste (or an alternative), try a few ...


21

There are no exceptions to leave no trace. Either you leave a trace, or you do not, the whole point of leave no trace ethics is to make as small an impact on the environment as possible, this means visually as well as ecologically. Tissues break down, but the proper method of disposing them would be to bury them in a fox hole. however, if you're digging a ...


20

Before marking any trails, please speak to the forest service or whatever local authority is in charge of the land. They likely have established methods for trail marking that should be followed, and using other means may even counteract their conservation efforts. In many areas, marking trails is illegal. See this article for an example. Marking a trail may ...


19

Throwing a dead body down a ravine in a rugged mountain area is a morally blameless act, much like throwing your biodegradable orange peel into a bush. Crows and coyotes will rapidly take care of it, leaving only disassembled bones, which they'll scatter. Just make sure to remove all the nonbiodegradable stuff, like clothing, credit cards, and so on. This ...


19

After 50 years, trash becomes protected as a historical artifact. It turns out that while you are not allowed to leave cans behind, you are also not allowed to "clean up" historic cans as they are an important part of the history of the area.


19

The material in Owlcation, Can Caffeine Kill? How It Impacts Animals, Plants, and the Environment, updated June 23, 2018, suggests that the safest thing to do with coffee grounds, relative to the environment, is to pack them out. Caffeine has a stimulating and apparently not harmful effect on horses, birds, and bees. Caffeine is banned in horse racing and ...


18

Leave No Trace I grew up in a place that was surrounded by open wilderness. There are no, "stay on the trail rules" there. After spending a lot of time in Parks, where there are a lot of rules, and comparing them to growing up in the lawless wilderness, I have to admit that the Parks are a lot prettier. Visiting the wild trails and campgrounds from my youth ...


18

I've hiked all over the USA and the general rule is that on public land, you can hike anywhere you want, unless there are specific rules for a given sensitive area. Generally these rules are posted at least at the trailhead or in any wilderness permit you get. The one place where there aren't posted signs, but that you should "STAY ON THE TRAIL" is making ...


18

I personally would rather just set an action camera to record over the timespan the litterer usually comes by. Consumer trail cameras don't usually have great definition - worse than action cameras anyway - and the tossing might go unnoticed while with video, you'll grab several frames per second. You could be able to get the car, the littering, and the ...


17

The main reason it's buried is to keep it from washing into water supplies. The ground provides natural filtration, where surface waste is fully exposed to the elements and can flow along the surface until it reaches a stream or pond. Yes, digging holes might be bad for one plant, but it's a whole lot better than polluting a water supply that animals (or ...


17

This is what I do: I always have extra carry-bags to keep the trash in. Depending upon what my plan is, if I am coming around the same way back home, I usually pickup everything which shouldn't be out there and place the bag at location where it will not be easily found by people or by animals. On my way back home, when I know I don't have an extra bag ...


16

If you absolutely must have a fire, reset your thinking from "fire pit" to "fire mound" Creating a fire mound is a great way to enjoy a back-country fire with little to no impact to the ground / vegetation. Carry a small sheet of plastic, burlap, or a section of an old fire shelter, or anything of the like (it shouldn't get hot enough to burn if your mound ...


16

Yes, this should work, trail cameras are used quite frequently to catch people littering. We know this because a hidden camera caught it all on tape. Juneau police used the footage to find the woman, Janessa Sanbei, and fine her for littering -- one of five tickets issued this spring after the installation of surveillance cameras at popular illegal ...


15

If you want the quickest way to mark a trail, you could go for forestry marking paint. Some brands will advertize around 5 years of permanence. It requires careful placement of your marks so they are visible along the trail but this is true for any type of marker anyway. The advantages are: No need to carry physical marks No need to carry ancillaries like ...


14

An additional point that hasn't been mentioned, is when you camp next to a creek or stream the water level can quickly change, sometimes by quite a bit. It can be sunny where you are camped but heavy rain miles upstream from you, and the raising water level could wash away half of your camp while you sleep.


14

Like most activities, campfires aren't simply ethical or unethical. There are only a few things in this world that are always ethical or always unethical. Rather, there are ethical and unethical ways to behave. I don't expect a campsite to look exactly like the land around it - I understand there will be artificial clearings in the trees, perhaps a sign ...


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