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The more examples I see of mis-stated LNT guidance, specific LNT techniques applied to the wrong situations, and park-specific or situation-specific exceptions to or elaborations on LNT guidance, the more I think that the guidance we need should be stated as:


1. Find out the applicable laws and the land owner/manager's rules, policies, and recommendations, and do that.


2. When a particular situation isn't covered by those laws, rules, policies, and recommendations, then: (a) if the area is designated for human activity, leave it cleaner than you found it; and (b) if it is a "natural" area, leave it looking like humans were never there.


Dan K.

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I think I follow LNT Principles, but after reading all this, perhaps I don't.


When I started with the troop, I met a pretty outdoorsy guy. He knew just about everything there was to know about "the woods". I noticed he always wore fluoroecent yellow, or lime or orange coats, hats, sweatshirts, etc. I aked him why. He is deputy chief of a Search and Rescue squad in Northeast PA. He has search dogs and spent some time at Ground Zero after 9/11 but I digress.


He said the number 1 rule amoung Search and Rescuers is don't get lost and as they do most of their searching at night, he wanted to be visible. I embraced the idea. I want to be seen, both by people looking for me and by people/scouts who may be a tad perplexed and seeing my orange coat may be enough to keep them from going astray ok, I will wear it.


My first repsonsibility is to the youth I serve and I will be visible to them.


Now, we have at least one thread goin on about the propriety of the site, the politness or how scout like it is. I see this Topic as a test case. Some are against LNT, some are for LNT but at various levels or committment. Thats all ok, its a free country.


Its the level of response that is interesting. SOme argue whether or not LNT is needed, that nature recovers quite well on its own and LNT is not needed. Then there are those who are beasically saying if you don't do extreme LNT, you are a totoal do do head and are pretty well stupid and have no excuse to live. And those who say if you do extreme LNT you are the do do head.


Cam we discuss something and not have the basic argument be I am right because I know I am and you are wrong because you don't agree with me and besides you are to stupid, ugly, blind, etc to understand how stupid, ugly blind, etc you are?


I would hope all BSA units who go into nature does not leave indications that a BSA unit was here last week, month, year.


IS that asking to much?

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I agree with Beavah on this. But I think JoeBob was musing about the thoughts boys might have with regard to certain specific issues that we've all heard about before. Canoeing across the Okefenokee, my companion chose to 'hold it' for many very uncomfortable days rather than to squat in front of everyone over a portable device. Those are the rules that we agree to, part of the terms that allow us into the swamp. Agree to it or don't go...it's a choice.

I view LNT more in terms of opportunity. Following the LNT ethic means that I can go off trail into backcountry areas to enjoy that solitude and then leave with no trace of my visit. It means that others like me can do this as well and as long as no trace is left, we can all enjoy that same experience. It is the opportunity that none of us may have if we all don't follow LNT.

In this sense, to me LNT is a selfish act that protects all of us as well as the wilderness. What's not to like about that?


SeattlePioneer, fess up now...are you the one who introduced lake trout into Yellowstone Lake? They ARE bigger fish than the native cutthroat trout. Do you think this was a good thing that someone did?

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Some of what LNT covers is common sense - or so it seems to those of us who were raised in the Boy Scouts. But not everyone was raised in the Scouts. I've mentioned my college before - a small, environmentally focused school with an excellent Conservation Law division and Outdoor Recreation/Education division. One would think that the Outdoor Recreation program and the Con-Law program would be full of former Boy Scouts - but it isn't. In the mid-80's, when I started, of the 25 males in the Outdoor Rec program, 2 - that's right, just 2, were Boy Scouts. Of the 45 males in the Con Law program, only 6 were Boy Scouts. So where did the other 62 males in these programs get their love of the outdoors? LNT was designed for people like them - people who didn't have something like the Boy Scouts in their lives. And there are a lot more folks out there without something like the Scouts getting into the woods. It makes sense that the Boy Scouts would adopt LNT principles, since that is pretty much the standard.


LNT also covers a lot of things that are laws, rules and regulations without trying to beat us over the head with them. For instance, letting people know they shouldn't keep blue jay feathers is not just because it diminishes other people's opportunity to find and enjoy them - it's also a matter of law. Feathers, eggs, and nests - even shed, hatched, or abandoned, are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act - you can't legally possess these items. Antique Bottles? Protected under a federal antiquities law. And as others have mentioned, there are state and local regulations that LNT covers without beating us over the head with.


But perhaps the issue is more basic than that. Perhaps the issue is that the BSA seems to present LNT as if it should be taught as a single unit. Maybe folks think we need to teach LNT in some kind of classroom setting. Just like the old days, the best way to teach the LNT ethics is to lead by example. I've told the story before but it fits here - at a state park, after I had packed up my gear and before I left my campsite, I walked around my campsite, and in the neighboring vacant sites, picking up trash. The Scout Troop that had camped across from me had also packed up and some Scouts who had taken the trash to the dumpster asked me what I was doing. I explained that I was taught in Boy Scouts that Boy Scouts always leave their campsites better than they found them. This set the Scouts racing to their Scoutmaster who told him what I told them - and that got the SPL to set up a trash patrol of their site. Lead by example. Leave No Trace. It's a pretty simple concept - we just have to do it.

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After reading this mess of attacks, no wonder scouting is in trouble.


Anyone who does not agree that we need to protect our wilderness areas has never been to one. The name of the program or idea is irrelevant. I don't buy all of the LNT nonsense, colored tents and closes, Please????? We need to do our best to manage usage and protect the little public land that is left.



So drop the egos and attitude and get on board with the idea that WE need to do this.



Scouting has a horrible reputation with land managers. We tear up campgrounds and shelters and are noisy after quite hours. I am going to bet that it is only 1 in 100 Troops that cause the problem. It only takes one poor unit to get us all labeled as poor stewarts of the outdoors.


Last camporee saw a couple of troops Dig firepits in a public park after being told to use above ground fire pits only. Guess what, scouting can no longer use any of the parks for camping. There defense was they didn't own firepits and were not going to purchase any.... So their arrogance cost us access to inexpensive camping.


Scoutfish.......if your worried about ATV's crashing into your tent.....are you camping in an approved campground?????. Bears and coyote's could care less what the color of your tent is.....they are more worried what it smells like.

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Hello Packsaddle,






Around Washington State, sportsfishing groups for decades had backpacked trout into remote backcountry lakes to be released. That was with the agreement of state management agencies.


Ten years or so ago, these agencies decided that such fish were non native in those lakes, which didn't naturally support any game fish populations. So they used state employees to pack chemicals in to those lakes to kill all the fish.



Frankly, I think that stinks.



Perhaps if there are native species you don't want non native species competing with them. But I don't see a reasonable objection to stocking lakes with no fish populations except for extremist environmental ideology.

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Okay, if everyone is on the same page that the world seems to gain its strength out of the survival of the fittest, wouldn't it make sense that if an invasive species thrives over native plants, isn't that species tomorrow's native species?


A few years back the upper Mississippi River was "infested" with zebra mussels. This was an environmental disaster! The mussels got into everything, they cleaned up the water, drew out the pollutants, and plants that hadn't seen the light of day for decades began to grow and prosper. The Big Muddy isn't the Big Muddy anymore! Instead of silt deposits clogging the water ways, it is now new growth vegetation. A plant called duck weed is clogging up motor boats right and left and the duck population is growing.


The point being, no one knows what to do. Is it a good thing or a bad thing these events are happening? Some say good others say bad.


Everyone is in a tizzy with the Emerald Ash Bore and not moving wood around. It's killing off all the Ash trees, you know, the ash trees that were planted 30 years ago to replace the elm trees that were killed off by the Dutch Elm Disease. If Elms can't survive, they're gone. If Ash can't survive, they're gone. They will be replaced by a different invasive species that will thrive in the new opened environment.


After all, as a person of European decent, I'm an invasive species that has in fact become native to North America. No one seemed to get all hyped up about that, now did they. Of course the new invasive species, i.e. Hispanics, is a whole different story. Well, not really, but a lot of folks don't want to admit it. :)


Your mileage may vary




99.5% of all the species that have been native to this planet at one time or another have become extinct. Mankind has been able to stay in the .5%, but that too may someday come to pass as well.

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I think your post proves the point that Nature finds a way to reclaim an area after humans have screwed it up. Right or wrong, better or worse depends on the long term effect for future generations not just immediate results. My point is if we abandon all conservation efforts in our natural areas we are asking for trouble.

Jacque Cousteau once said "If we continue to poison our oceans they and all that lives in them will die, and if our oceans die all life on earth will cease to exsist." That was over 40 years ago and I still think of it everytime I hear anyone say that conservation protection is just a fad or is unnecessary.

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Perhaps the issue is that the BSA seems to present LNT as if it should be taught as a single unit.


Yah, perhaps this is part of da problem, eh?


One of the things about BSA training and trainers is that we tend to be very declarative, eh? Do this, do that, don't do that. We write and talk like da G2SS a lot of times, and our training curriculum is pretty specific.


LNT, by contrast, ain't designed that way, since it's written to be given to all sorts of different people in all sorts of different settings. It's meant to be delivered in a more low-key way, da way Calico describes.


Can I ask... For those of yeh who have negative experiences with LNT trainers, were they BSA trainers or did yeh take an actual LNT course from a "civilian" LNT trainer or master educator? Perhaps in doin' our own delivery we're changin' da tone of the stuff, because we're used to more declarative, rules-based training.




Funny how da clothing ethic seems to get everyone in a snit. Another aspect of LNT clothing ethic hasn't been mentioned here, eh? That's the in-town ethic. LNT also teaches not to go into towns dressed like smelly nylon hippies. Just like we have scouts put on uniforms to travel, da LNT ethic is not to disrupt da experience of others with distracting clothing when yeh get back to town (spandex in church, etc.)... Just a courtesy thing, eh?


No different for wearin' loud flouresents or setting up glow-in-the-dark circus tents in da backcountry. Just a courtesy thing. And I reckon if you're worried about SAR finding yeh, rather than investing in a jacket yeh should invest in a map and compass and learn how to use 'em.


Just a courtesy thing, eh?


Now me, I mostly wear whatever jacket I got a good deal on ;). But when I have a choice, I avoid da fluorescent pink, since I know what I'm doin' and don't get lost. Just like I don't carry an air horn or a flare gun, even though those would be helpful if I got lost, too. Besides, I look pretty silly in pink ;)



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It's rather crass, but, anyone who has trained a dog will know that he will not soil his own kennel unless it's an extreme situation. Like someone didn't let him out for 24 hours. Duh.


Well, what do dogs know that we don't?


Your mileage may vary,



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I'm not on the same page as those who think that survival of the fittest means whichever species dominates wins. In classical terms, survival of the fittest means that the fittest individuals of a species will survive and thrive and reproduce. In classical terms, it means this finch will thrive on this island because it's beak is just right for probing into narrow cracks while that finch with the broader beak will thrive on that island whose biggest food source for finches is those big seeds that need to be cracked open.


It is not about zebra mussels being introduced (accidently in this case) being able to out-survive native mussels or being able to thrive in an ecosystem it doesn't belong in. Typically, when a species is introduced where it doesn't belong, it triumphs because, unlike the natives, it has no limiting factors in its new location - limiting factors such as natural predators, or bacteria/viruses, or natural competition, or built-up resistance.


Emerald Ash Borers thrive in our native Ash trees because the trees have not developed natural defenses against them, unlike the trees where EAB comes from. EAB is not about survival of the fittest - it's about battling a pest with no native limiting factors that has the potential to wipe out several billion (with a b) trees east of the Mississippi. Wisconsin and Michigan aren't restricting firewood movement because of the relatively small numbers of ash trees that were planted in cities and towns. They're restriciting firewood movement because of the incredibly large numbers of ash trees in those state's forests - and the devastating economic impact the loss of those trees could have.


Zebra mussels may mean the Mississippi River and Lake Michigan are "cleaner", but it also means they are changing the eco-system and threatening natives. When non-native Purple Loosestrife takes over a cattail marsh, some see a gain of "all those pretty purple flowers", while others see a huge loss of species diversity - no more muskrat, fewer birds, only one kind of flower. I wish I could take you to a prairie remnant I help maintain and do an insect sweep of the prairie and the neighboring "European" meadow. For every insect species we'll find on the meadow, we'll find 10 in the prairie.


And yes, as Seattle points out, there has been a shift of thinking in our wildlife agencies. As we've become more knowledgable, we're no longer doing the same things we did for decades, and are, in fact, trying to reverse it in some cases. 50 years ago, no one really gave much thought to how doing one thing, or not doing another thing, affected the whole of the eco-system. But we've since learned otherwise. When you introduce a non-native species (even if it's native to one pond, it might not be native to another), that pond is changed. One of the factors of the extinction of the Michigan Grayling was the introduction of non-native (to Michigan)Rainbow Trout and Brown Trout (other factors included destruction of habitat). In Maine, there is a species of endangered trout native to a couple of small, mountain lakes. Inland Fish & Wildlife has been working to save these endangered trout by capturing them, then killing off the non-native trout that have been carried up the mountains and introduced. Is that a bad thing? I don't think so. Illinois no longer releases Ring-necked Pheasants, a non-native, but they do release Wild Turkey, a native. I think most sportsmen approve.

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Re: trouts in mountain lakes


You are making the assumption that the only important aquatic life is fish. In the case of the lakes you're talking about, I'm sure that there are species of invertebrates that are being endangered by the trout.

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"Besides, I look pretty silly in pink"

I'd like to be the judge of that, got any photos? ;)


SeattlePioneer, I can respond to specifics if you can share those. Otherwise I only have my own knowledge of the problem of invasive species.

Since this is within my area of expertise, I'll respond to the examples given by Stosh. Zebra mussels have cost industry $millions so far, no good controls in sight. Their worst impacts so far are in the Great Lakes region but they are spreading elsewhere. Clarification of the rivers did not remove the nutrients so the deeper penetration of light has indeed opened them to nuisance growth of plants. Indeed, their ability to selectively feed has enabled toxic algal blooms resulting in fish kills and impaired waters. I do agree...they are likely here forever. I would not say it is a good thing.

The invasive insects or fungi killing our forests are not replacing those trees. When the chestnut blight wiped out the American chestnut, in terms of nutrient cycling an existing forest tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) filled the role of the chestnut. But tulip poplar does not produce the mast crop of chestnuts that deer, turkeys, and other wildlife had utilized prior to the blight. While the ecosystem does get along in spite of it all, it is permanently different. I could not argue that the chestnut blight improved the ecosystem. Could you?

More importantly, it is different in ways that we did not expect, could not predict, and may not understand how to manage.

The wooly adelgid is wiping out the hemlocks in our forests. JoeBob, how do you feel about all that dead timber along the banks of the Chattooga and throughout the rest of the region? Anyone think that's a good thing? There is no tree replacing their ecological role so far...we really have no idea what will happen in response. We do know there suddenly are huge numbers of dead trees, little different from having been sprayed with species-specific herbicide. Everyone OK with that?


Duckweed (assuming reference to 'common duckweed' - Lemna minor) is native. Perhaps Stosh can be more specific - common names can mean many things.


I could give you better examples for your argument but I tend to agree with the assessment that these things DO become part of nature (naturalized). The trouble is the speed with which we have introduced these exotic species.

If there were ever aspects of life that most people would agree are desirable, I think they would include understanding our world and control of our lives.

These invasives are inherently agents of loss of control. To shrug them off by stating the geologically correct fact that most species that have ever lived are extinct is to say, in essence, that extinction is just fine. Lack of understanding is just fine. Lack of control is just fine.

I can accept the reality of these introductions. I don't accept, on the basis of no evidence, that they are benign or that we gain some modicum of understanding or control as a result of their introduction. We don't. In fact, I predict that one day there will be a migratory waterfowl who takes a wrong turn and lands on a Southern lake infested with one or several of the dozens of invasive snails. And a schistosome or some other parasite may take hold as a new invasive that will cost us big$$$ in treatment, management, and perhaps...lives. But I suppose that will be OK because, after all, it is still part of nature.


The natural resource agencies are charged by the public to manage what? Natural resources. When a private citizen decided it would be great to introduce lake trout into Yellowstone and thereby hasten the potential extinction of the native cutthroats, and for sure huge cost to the taxpayer in trying to control the situation, that private citizen did nothing less than what someone did putting fish into remote lakes. In both cases they have usurped the responsibility of a state agency or perhaps violated a state law that gives that decision for natural resource management to a state agency. In the case of Yellowstone, it most certainly was a violation of federal law. Is anyone in this thread saying it is acceptable or even desirable to violate state laws? Is anyone saying that the decisions to manage wilderness should be left to whatever haphazard actions are committed by those individuals who can take those actions? I hope not.

It violates the LNT ethic...but I think it violates much more than that.(This message has been edited by packsaddle)

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I'm in a difficult situation here. Like many LNT supporters on this thread, I think it's important to make the effort to preserve the land. But I find myself profoundly disturbed by LNT as I've seen it presented (not here mind you, in real life, so to spead).


Proud Eagle said:


Those aren't your normal conditions. Nor should we act like the same degree of care is needed in all places and cases.


Yet LNT is meant to be more or less universal, so if it doesn't prepare you for the widest range of possibilities, it isn't doing its job


This is, I think, a big problem and a catastrophe in the making. People have a fine sense of the absurd, and if you tell them that crapping in the woods is going to destroy the wilderness, a majority will, eventually, have the same reaction as desertrat: "When the bears start practicing LNT, I'll go along too". Teenagers are particularly adept at seeing the absurdities in adult rules, eh?


Meanwhile, you create the backlash movement. Rules that have a valid core but are taken to absurd extremes cause people to just see them as abusrd and not recognize the valid core. Over time, perfectly reasonable ideas like "pack out your trash" become associated with idiotic ones like "speak in hushed tones on the trail" and suddenly we've trained a generation to think it's dumb to pack out your trash.


Or, as Kudu mentioned when he quoted Last Child in the Woods, we raise a generation that thinks they're not welcome, or comfortable, outdoors.


LNT has a fine set of core principals, but desertrat is right when he says it's the "bureaucratization of simple precepts."


And speaking of bureaucrats, Beavah is right that there's an element of avoiding heavy handed regulation by land managers (aka bureaucrats), but I'm increasingly skeptical of the claims said land managers are making. They seem to be crying wolf a lot. Yes, wolves do exist, and some habitats are fragile, but the job of Land Manager is highly attractive to the type of personality who likes to make rules, and claiming "erosion" as a justification for limiting access is awfully conveninet...


Reading GernBalnsten's crib notes on how the salt in urine create problems led me back to deserrat's comment about bears. Where to the bears pee? Or the deer? I've seen deer pee, they don't fan it, or go on boulders. The humans who go into the wilderness are a very, very small part of the overall biomass using the area. Yet we feel compelled to badger our fellow man about his impact because we know darn well the bears aren't going to listen.


That's where the folks Eagle92 and JoeBob are talking about - the extremists - come in. They're the biggest threat. As Eagle92 pointed out, they end up doing a lot of the talking about LNT, and I think they're naturally drawn to it and try to take over to make LNT what they want it to be (which is, I think, an excuse to ban the hoi polloi from the Sacred Wilderness). They give LNT a bad name, which gives conservation a bad name.


I think the biggest job the rest of us have is making sure the nutbars don't capture the agenda.



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