Practicing Low-Impact Camping
Camping practices have changed greatly over the years, in part because of the impact human beings have had on the environment. We’ve become aware of the need to tread as lightly as possible on the earth. This is critically important if we’re going to keep the environment from being further degraded.
Earlier camping practices like cutting branches, chopping down trees, or digging trenches around a tent are no longer acceptable. Many wilderness areas have been damaged. Much time is required for some of the wounds to heal. For example, it’s said that thousands of years will be necessary for high-mountain soil, eroded from recent human impact, to fully regenerate.
It’s important that we all become conscious of the effects of our actions on the earth, whether we’re in the wilderness or at home. Many Americans behave as if they still aren’t fully aware of the harm that’s being done to the environment and to all forms of life, ourselves included.
The long-term survival of this planet will probably depend on whether we can learn to change some deep-seated habits”especially in countries like the United States, where waste, littering, and polluting still continue on a massive scale. What’s required is that our lives become less self-centered in some ways, that we all take responsibility for the earth and future generations. Change is necessary right now.
What we do while camping out can make a difference. With a little effort we can help reverse the deterioration which has occurred in some wilderness areas during the recent past.
Trash, broken glass, and other eyesores are obviously deplorable, and must be eliminated and prevented to the best extent possible. There are also other problems and subtler signs of damage which aren’t always immediately evident to the newcomer, such as badly eroded meadows and moun-taintops. When the effects of abuse and misuse are encountered in what was once a pristine environment, the experience is diminished for everyone.
If any additional incentive should be needed to encourage campers to follow responsible practices, damaging the wilderness environment in any way also happens to be illegal in most places. You could be subject to a stiff fine and ejected from a park if you’re caught. In some locations punishments are quite severe. However, many people unfortunately still get away with vandalism and other violations. Given current tight budgets and inadequate numbers of rangers, enforcement tends to be spotty.
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