Camping, hiking and backpacking are great American activities, and many will likely be doing one or maybe all of these this July 4th weekend.
As reported in this week's Independent
, a number of factors are contributing to heavy use of our national forests and other public lands
. In general, and regardless of the reasons, our public lands and outdoor recreation are enjoying a great amount of popularity these days. While I have no doubt that the vast majority of users respect the environment and the people who work hard to keep our forests and open spaces clean and sustainable, there are still problems. Some are due to plain old maliciousness, some due to apathy, and some due to a lack of knowledge.
Whether you've been camping before or not, now seems to be a good time to go over some tips on responsible camping. If you’re new to camping and not sure what the “do’s and don’ts” are, don’t feel bad. We’ve all been there.
Simply speaking, being a responsible user of our lands means to treat them as you treat your own home. Actually, take it a step further and treat the outdoors better than your home. Remember, you’re a guest, not the owner of the land.
I could go on, but instead I’ll leave you with a couple of really good links:
Here is what the U. S. Forest Service has to say about responsible recreation
. And from Tread Lightly, of which I am a Charter Member, here are the "Top 10 Ways to Minimize Impact When Camping in the Outdoors"
. Finally, I'd suggest checking out the good people at Leave No Trace
, the Center for Outdoor Ethics before you reach your campsite.
Go out and visit our public lands this weekend. Enjoy the holiday, and the outdoors, but most of all, be safe and responsible.
Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for over 24 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: firstname.lastname@example.org.