Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Rules...Who Needs Stinking Rules!!

Rules for boondocking on federal lands are found in the Code of Federal Regulations, also fondly known as the CFR's.  CFR's 36 Part 200 TO END.   Way back in the 1990's you could buy a paper copy from the Government Printing Office for a mere $48.00.

The good news is they are also on-line at the following link:  36 CFR Electronic Copy.  In the 1996 version the Forest Service rules were ONLY 404 pages!  I did not want to look at the 2010 version.

So there you are.  If you want to argue with the rangers, read the entire copy.  It's highly unlikely they have! Now the good news is each National Forest and Park also gets to write their own regulations based on the 36 CFR.  Those should be available at the Supervisor's Office, but I cannot remember if they are posted on-line. It most likely depends on how each local manager uses their website.

The CFR"s and local additions provide a long list of DON'Ts. 

So what rules did this guy break?  Well, it was not dog off-leash.  That is perfectly legal on most National Forests' boondock locations, unless the dog is not under voice control.  Dogs do have to be    on a six foot leash in campgrounds.  Just read the 400+ pages.  There has to be something in there somewhere.

You will not get cited, if you simply follow these two simple rules.  One:  Please take care of the public land you own.  It means do not damage the land.  Two:  The way you know rule one is followed is  there is no trace of you being there.  Here is a web site to help you with rule two.  It did start with Wilderness areas, but it can be applied anywhere.  Leave no trace, what a wonderful concept!  Leave No Trace.

Ok, here are some things to watch out for.  First, do not cut green vegetation.  If you cut firewood for a campsite do it outside the camping area and bring it in to your campsite.  Yes, you can gather wood for a campfire without a permit.  Do not re-engineer your campsite by moving large rocks.  They might have been placed there for a reason.  Do not dump the black tank in the woods or into the campground toilet!!

Fire.  Fire is always a special concern in the West.  During dry conditions do not start a fire, particularly if it is windy.  Remember that boondock sites or dispersed campsites are always closed to campfires before developed campgrounds.  So if you see a fire in a campground, it does not mean it is ok for you to have a fire.  Check with the local ranger station or BLM office.

If your campfire escapes and starts a wildfire, you will probably be billed for fire suppression costs.  If air tankers and helicopters start flying you might as well file for bankruptcy that day.  Campfires, I only enjoy them in the pouring rain since being on fire assignments and seeing the daily costs of the fire suppression activities.

You readers are the folks land agencies love to see enjoying public lands.  Don't worry about breaking rules or regulations.  Just follow the simple rule of Leave No Trace.

The public lands of the United States are a national treasure that belong to all of us.  Take care of them and be sure to take the time to enjoy them.  There are few places on Earth like the American public lands.


Dugg said...

My RV's holding tanks are very can-tank-erous: they adamantly refuse to fill up before the typical 14-day camping limit is reached.

And it's hard to truly Leave No Trace when you drag a 16,000lb house with you wherever you go.

But I always manage to fill a small garbage bag with someone else's garbage, as soon as I arrive at a new campsite.

I always point it out whenever I'm visited by the USFS. So far, I have yet to be cited for violating 36 CFR 200 to end.

Dugggg (anonymous poster from yesterday)

Vladimir Steblina said...

Dugg, Your comment is wrong about "hard to leave no trace when you drag a 16,000 lb house".

Go outside and look at the contact between the ground and your tires. That is your footprint. Look at a tent camper. Compare that to the footprint of your "house".

You have a holding tank for your black waste. The tent camper plants "toilet paper flowers" around their dispersed camping sites.

Most RV campers leave much, much less trace on public land than do the backpackers.

You probably will never be cited for violating 36 CFR to end. Most RV'ers are just not that type.

Dugg said...

Thanks Vladimir for the encouraging words. You're certainly right about those "flowers", I've picked a lot of 'em over the years!

Anonymous said...

My heart almost stopped when I saw the fat book of rules.

But I breathed a great sigh of relief when you boiled it down to a simple "Leave no trace."

I don't boondock much, but I do love remote forest campgrounds.

The last federal campsite I camped in (in Alabama) the previous tenants had left used diapers, meat wrappers, foil, bottles and cans, and an old half-burned fishing rod in the firepit. DH and I gagged as we hauled away 4 trash bags of maggot-ridden garbage from the site before it was fit to camp in.

I love being around people who love and respect our beautiful public lands. They are a special breed of caretakers.

I really enjoy your blog and your perspective on enjoying our public lands.

Thanks! :)