Caring for and Healing the Earth

Wilderness Caretaking

Low Impact Camping

Walter Muma

This is about camping in real wilderness areas. In other words, not along established trails, in park campgrounds, or in designated backcountry campsites. It's about camping in wild, off-trail areas, where human impact has been negligible.

Please do not travel through such areas unless you are prepared to preserve the natural environment in these areas in every way.

  • Generally speaking, the area where you camp should look exactly the same when you leave as when you arrived.

  • Act as if you're a visitor in a temple...the temple of Creation.

  • Place your tent in an area where there will be the least amount of vegetation affected. If you must flatten some vegetation where you place your tent, try to bend it over gently, so it will spring back up when you leave.

  • Tent placement: There's a trade-off of sorts here. On the one hand, it may be best to place your tent where others have previously placed their tents, to contain the impact to a smaller area. On the other hand, to avoid further impact on one concentrated area, it may be best to locate your tent in an area that hasn't yet been used. This may be the best approach if you can pitch your tent in the unused area with zero impact, and if the previously used tent area could recover easily.
    This is a judgment call that can only be made at the location at that time.

  • No fires. If you must have a fire, only build it in an existing fireplace or fire circle. Make very sure that it's fully and completely out before you leave. You should be able to stick your hand into the ashes. But be careful, wet ashes may burn your hand (not from heat, but like an acid burns).

  • Don't trample down trails to and from areas around your campsite.

  • Don't cut branches, trim trees/shrubs, and so on.

  • Human waste: Bury it well away from water.

  • Carry out everything you bring in...garbage, equipment, etc.

  • Leftover, or non-edible food: this may attract the attention of animals tom your campsite. This is not a good thing. Either bury it well away from your campsite (several hundred yards would be ideal), or dispose of it in the water. Both are pollution of a sort.


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