Learning to minimize impact on nature

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Thursday, August 14 2008

            Bill Houk stood outside the Natural Resources Building today, committed to spreading the values of Leave No Trace.

A master educator with LNT, Houk firmly believes in promoting the seven principles of the camping program – plan ahead and prepare, camp on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly, leave what you find, minimize campfire impact, respect wildlife, and be considerate of other visitors. The danger of not following these principles is that wasteful and inconsiderate behavior can cause permanent and devastating damage to properties and trails, ruining them for future generations.

            Houk showed off some of his handy devices that can aid any camper or hiker in minimizing their natural impact. First, the eloquently named Poop Tube, a white plastic air-tight cylinder, the purpose of which is “hauling human waste out of the back country.” The Poop Tube can accommodate a person for 2 to 5 days, “depending on how much you eat, of course.”

            Next is the Bear Cache. Although we don’t have bears in Indiana, this device is a handy development in bear country since bears in their infinite wisdom have figured out the hang-a-bag-from-a-tree system by slicing the rope and snagging the bag of food when it falls. The Bear Cache is a dark, air-tight canister that can hold anything with an odor that might attract bears to your campsite. The canister is big enough that a bear can’t fit its mouth around it, and, Houk said, “Unless he’s carrying a screwdriver, he can’t get in.”

            Finally, Houk recommends a water filter and bucket combo to ensure clean water for the entire span of your trip. The bucket may sound unnecessary but is actually very considerate of surrounding wildlife who need water access. Also, making a quick exit from the water source stops you from inadvertently causing erosion to the riverbank.

            While some of these suggestions may seem a little excessive and maybe even sort of gross, leaving no trace is an important part of symbiotically living with wildlife, and is truly necessary for the avid hikers and campers of Indiana.

– Katy

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