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I went backpacking via Cascade Pass in the North Cascades National Park over the weekend.


Pictures of this spectacular area:






There are a bunch of things I don't like about how the Park service is administering our parks. I'll mention one here: a clear prejudice against campfires.


At Cascade Pass, archaeologists found evidence of human campfires before and after the Mt Mazama eruption that formed Crater Lake, Oregon 4,000 odd years ago. Boy, would those guys have been in a LOT of TROUBLE had the National Park Service been around then!


No camping at all around Cascade Pass. I had to descend about two miles and 500 feet to get to one of the Park Services classic modern campsites --- a half mile off the trail, a hundred feet below the main trail, a quarter mile to any water and, of course, no fires despite being in the woods and trees.


Now. Those using the park 4,000 year ago had their campfires at the pass. I'm guessing human beings have been sitting around camp fires BSing with each other for 100,000 years or more. I'd guess that staring into a campfire probably has a genetic component to human beings, to say nothing of a cultural one.


But no campfires in the modern National Park! It got dark at 8PM --- and got cold rather quickly too. A fire would have provided light an heat and invited comradely and friendship between people. It gives people something to do once it gets dark.


But noooooooo!


Environmentalists appear to have clamped a stranglehold on what people can do in national parks these days. And either you enjoy life as the Sierra Club likes to live it or DON'T GO!


As usual with liberals, there is no diversity allowed if it might contradict some element of their social or political agenda.

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If memory serves, NPS tried to close access to some parks in NC.


But it's not just the NPS, states too have limits on fires in parks and with fire bans.


It's been so bad, that when I asked why only one patrol could build a fire, light it, and boil watert to tie a noodle into a square knot at a camporee, the rationale I was given was no one can build fires anymore between campgrounds and parks banning them, and fire bans due to weather conditions.

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The BSA has embraced Leave No Trace as a core part of its program. As leaders in the BSA, we should also be promoting that outdoor ethic. In order to promote it, we need to understand it.


The reason regulations are put in place is because too many people have not taken it upon themselves to regulate their own activities. Take a look at the few pics on http://boyscouttrail.com/a/ and maybe you'll see why those people tasked with managing public lands sometimes take steps that you don't like.


We have other options for gathering after dark - tea candles, flashlights, or just star gazing for a few examples. And, an open campfire does not provide heat to those gathered around it.


Scout On


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Must respectfully disagree with you on campfires not providing heat. My life was probably saved when I got hypothermia on a HA trip in the Canadian wilderness as the fire was used to warm me up and dry clothes as well.


Besides, LNT does not, stressing NOT, prohibit fires. Check out this link for LNT's policy on fires.



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Call me an environmentalist then..


Let see....reading from the website....


Two hundred backcountry Campsites......Holy smokes....


they run out of backcountry permits on most summer weekends.....The park service suggests midweek trips.



In my trips into heavily used areas such as the above....if you permit fires then everything gets burned around the campsites, It was the oddest thing on the AT around the shelters there wasn't any downed trees, logs or branches. then you have people burning their trash which attracts bears......


then the entire LNT thing.....you have people going out looking for firewood in an ever increasing radius around the campsite.......


I don't have a problem with no fires in a wilderness area..... especially one as heavily used as this one....


We had a burn ban most of the summer in our area, we sat around citronella candles and BS'd......







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LNT recommends stoves.

It would be a shame if scouts camped and never had a campfire to build, sit around, warm themselves, and cook on.

Scouts need to learn how to do these things in a safe and responsible manner. I'd rather teach them how to have campfires in a responsible way than ban them. My guys would never even consider having a fire without a shovel and bucket of water or leaving it unattended. They understand the importance of fire safety because they've been taught this since they joined the troop.

That being said all rules and laws must be followed.

I've seen plenty of trash filled fire pits, smoldering unattended fires, and trees stripped of branches around campfire rings. Hopefully it not Scouts who are doing this.

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Yah, I'm a fan of education like Eagle732. I think if we do our job teachin' the lads how and when to have a fire, and how to travel and camp so as not to make a mess, then the need for land managers to impose restrictions goes down a great deal. That's da goal of the LNT program as close as I can tell.


Unfortunately, LNT isn't gettin' out there to the general public, and even gets a fair bit of resistance within da BSA. So increasingly we're seein' land managers move toward restrictions as the only alternative. 4,000 years ago there were maybe a few hundred thousand humans in North America. Now there are tens of millions that visit our much smaller reserves of parks and wilderness lands. If yeh only have a few neighbors quite a ways away yeh don't mind if they take dumps here and there. Try it around an apartment in complex in the city, and suddenly yeh have a need for education and restriction! :)


I confess I share SeattlePioneer's frustration with da restrictions, and have been a scofflaw occasionally when on my own (but not with kids), albeit a well-practiced LNT scofflaw. I've occasionally gone through da process of gettin' a rules waiver from the local managers when with kids, but that takes a lot of developin' of relationships and such, and sadly the general reputation of da BSA in terms of LNT works against us.


At the same time, I've been to areas where thousands of square yards have become blackened, denuded wastelands because of over-camping and too much fire-building. Some of those were once beautiful areas that I remember fondly from my youth. So I'm also sympathetic to da challenge the land-managers face.


I'd still like to see us solve it with education, eh? With self-policing and citizenship. But I do grudgingly support da restrictions when they're necessary.




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Sadly I've seen scouts and leaders, one of whom SHOULD know better as he has taught LNT and other environmental/conservation courses for over 40 years, leave fires unattended. he says it's OK since it's in a fire ring, no combustables within 5 or 10 feet, etc etc.




The folks who resist LNT are usually the ones who have, for lack of a better word, "extremists" instructors who really do not know how to work with folks. My first intro into LNT outside of Scouting had one of those and I was very anti LNT for a while because of that course. Sad thing was, I couldn't get up and leave like I wanted to as the course was part of my training program for a job I held.


More later

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As a Fire Lieutenant with wild-land fire experience I will say BSA are exceptions to the rule as far as fire safety. But as others mention, most individuals have not the training nor the caution and care of proper fire use. I fought fire at the California Wild lands a few years ago. Scariest thing I have ever seen. When we flew in, fire was the total horizon as far as you could see. Flicking a cigaret or leaving some hot coals is all it takes. The simple fact you adhered to the rule makes you more responsible than most. Is no campfires disappointing? Absolutely.


Yours In Cheerful Service.


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I've seen plenty of examples where intense use has created long-term impacts to those areas. So if I'm going into an area that gets intense use, I know to expect restrictions and I follow them. If I want to 'get away from it all', I go to an area that doesn't get heavy use and then I go off trail on my own. There are places where we can still do this. But even then, especially if it's really dry, it may be dangerous or illegal to build a campfire. I'm good with a stove, or maybe not even that.

If it's cold, add another layer. I don't go into the wilderness for the cuisine or the comfort. That's what hotels are for.

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I was hiking a 50 miler on the A trail when I saw my first backpacking stove, in '72 or '73.

Went out and bought one as soon as I got home, been using them ever since. That said I am saddened (used to be shocked) by how many scouts I meet nowdays who simply can not light a fire. Even in hot dry weather and a big box of kitchen matches. I suspect some of them couldn't do it with a quart of lighter fluid! The ability to make a fire any where,any time used to be one of the hallmarks of a woodsman, and there are cases where it has been the difference between life and death. Even if we don't need a fire for every meal, can we not at the least TEACH our scouts how and insist upon some level of skill?


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Had a similar conversation to your last post tonite. Camporee chief wanted to get back to basics with the camporee, and firebuilding will be one of the events, barring a fire ban (and I have a feeling we may have some wiggle room with the event and still do it legally IF one of the SMs can pull some strings :) )


he was talking about how scouts can't seem to do it, and I told him of the camporee where only one patrol, it was from troop too, were the only ones who could build a fire, light it, boil water to cook spagetti, and tie a square knot with it.


The look on his face was one of shock.

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