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Half Dome, Yosemite National Park

The Moon is Waning Gibbous (62% of Full)


Re: WHY are there so many Illegal fire rings and campfires ?

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WHY are there so many Illegal fire rings and campfires ?
August 14, 2012 10:40AM
Any of we older enthusiasts that have extensively backpacked in both timberline and alpine areas of Yosemite and the High Sierra are well aware that one of the continuing most widespread illegal behaviors of apparently many backcountry users is illegally building fire rings and making camp fires. In most areas illegal means building fire rings and making fires above policy elevations that in Yosemite is 9600 feet and generally in the rest of the High Sierra either 10000 or 10400 feet. Doing so below those elevations is usually acceptable though during dangerous dry hot periods policy may not permit so or discourage the practice.

If one visits any web boards like this rarely will one find anyone that actually admits to it. Instead most experienced backpackers readily state that they either infrequenty make fires even where such is permited or never do so. So WHO are these people making fires? WHY are they ignoring policy? WHAT are they thinking to rationalize their behavior?

For years I've been tearing down illegal fire rings, scattering rocks and coals. Oh I don't dismantle every one I see because there are so many I don't have the time. But on every backpack I do several and tend to pick on the ones at illegal campsites too close to lake edges. That is of course maybe the second most ignored policy by backpackers, using camp spots too close to lakes. And of course the same visitors that make illegal campfires are also the ones likely to camp too close to lakes. Shows a general behavior pattern of course. Ignoring policy is of course rife in our society and starts with people ignoring traffic regulations like speeding because they are unpractically too low. That same attitude in weak minds festers its way to all manner of law breaking.

I'm also a person that will readily talk to groups in the backcountry that I see with illegal campfires or using illegal camp spots. That of course takes tact where one ought not at all display any emotion or attitude else a response is likely to be aggressive. My strategy is usually to first slyly take a digital camera image of what is going on from a distance. Then I'll walk up and casually ask if a group has a wilderness permit and then if they are aware of the fire elevation policy. Most of the time people are rather surprised someone actually will bring up the issue and are obviously rather embarassed. I leave it up to people to either continue to do whatever or not on their own without further pressure. Of course most will quickly put out any fire and that likely has an additional benefit of them being much less likely to make illegal fires in the future since they are now aware they don't only have to worry about wilderness rangers that are so scarce in current times but also that they may be embarassed by their peers.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 08/14/2012 10:44AM by DavidSenesac.
avatar Re: WHY are there so many Illegal fire rings and campfires ?
August 14, 2012 11:18AM
We simply live in a society now that a very large portion of the population truly believes that rules are for suckers and that any rules or regulations don't apply to them!

How many times have we've seen people feed wildlife right next to signs that say "Do not feed the wildlife"!?!

avatar Re: WHY are there so many Illegal fire rings and campfires ?
August 14, 2012 11:40AM
I called it "entitlement". I have raised my children to work hard and earn what they want or need. Many parents want to hand their children
everything so they don't "have to go thrugh what I did". But isn't that the point? To work hard and struggle and reap the rewards of the hard work?
Parent want to be friends with their kids. I want mine to be respectful first, to know they are loved, but also that parents jobs are often difficult and cause pain.

Both of my sons have returned to Mom and I, thanking us for being fair, honest and demanding. They feel well prepared to be fathers, husbands, employees.

I love my children, and now that they are adults, I really like them too.
Re: WHY are there so many Illegal fire rings and campfires ?
August 14, 2012 11:46AM
When we were in the valley a few weeks ago we went to El Cap Meadow to take full moon pictures. I found a fire ring with the wood and tinder all set to light right in front of one of those big oaks that are in the meadow. My son and I scattered everything so no one would see it and think, "Hey, someone set this up and we should light a fire."
Re: WHY are there so many Illegal fire rings and campfires ?
August 20, 2012 09:49PM

Above is one of the illegal fire rings bon fire wood piles I found at Anne Lake's outlet at 10,3000 feet on the recent 9-day trip we did into the Silver Divide. Obviously that group planned to sit around all night into the wee hours burning burning and then next morning rise at 10am. Nothing I haven't seen in the past. More on my dismantling of some of these fire rings on that feature on Day 1 and Day 5 pages.



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 08/20/2012 09:53PM by DavidSenesac.
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