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Old 07-02-2011, 10:24 AM   #1
Olas OP
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Dispersed Camping in National Forests (rules)..

What are the rules exactly? I can't find a set of specific rules for camping in national forests, and what I do find seems vague. This is what I could come up with:

• LEAVE WHAT YOU FIND
Plants, animals, and cultural sites and artifacts should all be left for the next person to enjoy.

• MINIMIZE CAMPFIRE IMPACTS

Use a lightweight backpacking stove. In some places campfires are prohibited, but stoves help minimize the impact everywhere.

• RESPECT WILDLIFE

Don’t feed, chase, or harass wildlife and be sure to hang your food well out of reach of bears.

• BE CONSIDERATE OF OTHERS

Think about how your actions affect other people. Loud noises, out of control pets, cell phones, and radios are a few examples of what might bother other hikers.

• PLAN AHEAD AND PREPARE

Find out about the area you will be visiting, including any regulations or restrictions. Be sure to have maps, proper clothing, equipment, food, and water. Keep your group size to 10 or less (this is required in Wilderness and recommended everywhere).

• TRAVEL AND CAMP ON DURABLE SURFACES

Stay on the trail while hiking. Camp at sites that have already been heavily impacted (but be sure it’s a legal site), or 200 feet from trails and water sources. Avoid moderately impacted sites where your visit could create more damage.

• DISPOSE OF WASTE PROPERLY

Carry out what you carry in; bury human waste in a hole 4-8 inches deep, away from water, trails, and campsites.



The above is common sense stuff to me. So my question is: How can you be sure where you're camping is a legal site? A couple of weeks ago I was camped out in the Uncompahgre National Forest and was razzed by a ranger (I even talked to him on the way in about where to camp).

Right after we set up camp, he came up and told us we had to be within 100 yds. of the main road. To me, I was. I could throw a rock and hit the road from my camp site. I really doubt I could throw a rock and clear an entire football field. Anyway, after he ran our ids and told me he wasn't going to give me a ticket (probably because I talked to him on the way in). He left us alone for the night and told us to move it the next day.

The campsite we chose was clearly one that had been heavily used in the past. There was a two track road up to it, a really nice fire pit (didn't have a fire going), etc...and within 100 yds. from the main road (yeah, I know the rock throwing method is not an accurate way to measure distance but how does the ranger measure it?).

Anyway, if there's a thread on this...please point me to it. Or even better, show me the forest service rules and regs on this. Everything I've found, even for specific locations, is VERY vague. I always try to locate rangers and talk to them to make sure I'm legit...and that's what I did last time and was still hassled. Might have been due to the Bluegrass festival going on at the same time but I would like to know for future reference.
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Old 07-02-2011, 10:35 AM   #2
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Ok, I found this:

http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_...rdb5190639.pdf

"Dispersed Camping

The majority of Forest lands on the GMUG are open to camping. There are restrictions on how far you can travel off of designated roads with a motorized vehicle to park while camping at dispersed locations. On all of the GMUG, motorized vehicles may travel no more than 300 feet from the road to a parking spot for the purpose of camping at these dispersed locations. The Forest Service typically provides no developed facilities (such as tables, fire grates, trash receptacles, drinking water, electricity or rest-rooms) for dispersed camping. Such amenities are only provided in Forest Service campgrounds. There are no fees associated with dispersed camping.

The public is encouraged to camp in locations where others have previously camped and utilize existing routes (two-track trails) to those camp areas. Campers are required to leave a clean camp, not to damage vegetation or pollute streams and lakes on the National Forest and implement “leave no trace” practices. Dispersed camping should not occur within 100 feet of streams and lakes or in areas where camping is restricted to designated sites such as the Gothic/Schofield Pass road (#317) and Taylor River canyon corridor (CR 742) on the Gunnison National Forest"
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Old 07-02-2011, 11:33 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Olas View Post
What are the rules exactly? I can't find a set of specific rules for camping in national forests, and what I do find seems vague. This is what I could come up with:

• LEAVE WHAT YOU FIND
Plants, animals, and cultural sites and artifacts should all be left for the next person to enjoy.

• MINIMIZE CAMPFIRE IMPACTS

Use a lightweight backpacking stove. In some places campfires are prohibited, but stoves help minimize the impact everywhere.

• RESPECT WILDLIFE

Don’t feed, chase, or harass wildlife and be sure to hang your food well out of reach of bears.

• BE CONSIDERATE OF OTHERS

Think about how your actions affect other people. Loud noises, out of control pets, cell phones, and radios are a few examples of what might bother other hikers.

• PLAN AHEAD AND PREPARE

Find out about the area you will be visiting, including any regulations or restrictions. Be sure to have maps, proper clothing, equipment, food, and water. Keep your group size to 10 or less (this is required in Wilderness and recommended everywhere).

• TRAVEL AND CAMP ON DURABLE SURFACES

Stay on the trail while hiking. Camp at sites that have already been heavily impacted (but be sure it’s a legal site), or 200 feet from trails and water sources. Avoid moderately impacted sites where your visit could create more damage.

• DISPOSE OF WASTE PROPERLY

Carry out what you carry in; bury human waste in a hole 4-8 inches deep, away from water, trails, and campsites.



The above is common sense stuff to me. So my question is: How can you be sure where you're camping is a legal site? A couple of weeks ago I was camped out in the Uncompahgre National Forest and was razzed by a ranger (I even talked to him on the way in about where to camp).

Right after we set up camp, he came up and told us we had to be within 100 yds. of the main road. To me, I was. I could throw a rock and hit the road from my camp site. I really doubt I could throw a rock and clear an entire football field. Anyway, after he ran our ids and told me he wasn't going to give me a ticket (probably because I talked to him on the way in). He left us alone for the night and told us to move it the next day.

The campsite we chose was clearly one that had been heavily used in the past. There was a two track road up to it, a really nice fire pit (didn't have a fire going), etc...and within 100 yds. from the main road (yeah, I know the rock throwing method is not an accurate way to measure distance but how does the ranger measure it?).

Anyway, if there's a thread on this...please point me to it. Or even better, show me the forest service rules and regs on this. Everything I've found, even for specific locations, is VERY vague. I always try to locate rangers and talk to them to make sure I'm legit...and that's what I did last time and was still hassled. Might have been due to the Bluegrass festival going on at the same time but I would like to know for future reference.
Just curious where you were camped? I know our local ranger Dave is pretty hardcore on that 100 yard rule, especially during festivals and he really keeps an eye on the camping near the top of Lizard Head pass.
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Old 07-02-2011, 11:50 AM   #4
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That was off Alta Lakes Rd. about 3 miles in (rest of the road was snow blocked). Could have been Dave but I didn't catch his name. He was nice and very helpful, I just think he was looking for a reason to run our ids to check for warrants. It kinda bummed me out since it was right before we were going to bed and he had us stand out there freezing while he was doing that. I'm sure that our campground was legit since he didn't give us a ticket (talked to other people the next day who did get a ticket) but still left me with the need to educate myself so that I don't put myself in a situation where I could get a ticket.
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Old 07-02-2011, 11:55 AM   #5
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Good thread Olas.

The key distinction is whether you're with a vehicle or not. If you're vehicle free (i.e. backpacking), you can camp as far from the forest road as you want but must be at least 100 feet from water. One trick is to measure out and mark 100 feet on your bear bag line. That makes it easy to prove the distance, should need to.

Illegal sites are usually marked. If it's not marked with a sign, it's probably OK.
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Old 07-02-2011, 12:10 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Olas View Post

Right after we set up camp, he came up and told us we had to be within 100 yds. of the main road. To me, I was. I could throw a rock and hit the road from my camp site. I really doubt I could throw a rock and clear an entire football field. Anyway, after he ran our ids and told me he wasn't going to give me a ticket (probably because I talked to him on the way in). He left us alone for the night and told us to move it the next day.

The campsite we chose was clearly one that had been heavily used in the past. There was a two track road up to it, a really nice fire pit (didn't have a fire going), etc...and within 100 yds. from the main road (yeah, I know the rock throwing method is not an accurate way to measure distance but how does the ranger measure it?)..
Take a 100 yard tape measure with you...next BS ranger that comes and says your not within distance pull it out and say "hold this end while you measure it out"...they will probably huff and puff but they won't be blowing your tent in.

Kind of a silly rule, I am not a camper had no Idea your stuck to 100 yards of a road...who wants to be even near a road...LOL To me if I was a camper that is not camping.
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modette screwed with this post 07-03-2011 at 09:22 AM
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Old 07-02-2011, 12:12 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Olas View Post
The public is encouraged to camp in locations where others have previously camped and utilize existing routes (two-track trails) to those camp areas. Campers are required to leave a clean camp, not to damage vegetation or pollute streams and lakes on the National Forest and implement “leave no trace” practices. Dispersed camping should not occur within 100 feet of streams and lakes or in areas where camping is restricted to designated sites such as the Gothic/Schofield Pass road (#317) and Taylor River canyon corridor (CR 742) on the Gunnison National Forest"
Except for that two track you just made to get in and out...LOL There is always traces of people...I always loved how vague it is.
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Old 07-02-2011, 12:15 PM   #8
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Good thread Olas.

The key distinction is whether you're with a vehicle or not. If you're vehicle free (i.e. backpacking), you can camp as far from the forest road as you want but must be at least 100 feet from water. One trick is to measure out and mark 100 feet on your bear bag line. That makes it easy to prove the distance, should need to.

Illegal sites are usually marked. If it's not marked with a sign, it's probably OK.

So could you leave your vehicle that the 300 feet and then hike in to camp!!!! Why would you assume one would camp next to your vehicle.
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Old 07-02-2011, 12:18 PM   #9
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...who wants to be even near a road...LOL To me if I was a camper that is not camping.
There are plenty of forest roads which get little or no traffic, especially during the week. The further away from towns and the further back you go, the less likely you will be to see anybody. If you're willing to carry a backpack a few miles, you can even be in complete solitude.

Thankfully, most people are too fat and lazy to carry a pack.

-O
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Old 07-02-2011, 12:26 PM   #10
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So could you leave your vehicle that the 300 feet and then hike in to camp!!!! Why would you assume one would camp next to your vehicle.
I had an interesting conversation with the ranger's office at State Forest (state park) about that. You could leave your car parked and hike back to a site. They said 1,000 feet from the car. If you do that, no permit required for the camping but you still need a day-use permit on your vehicle. If you camp in the designated sites (which provide pit toilets, fire rings, etc), then you pay the camping fee in addition to the day-use permit. That's a state park, by the way, not national forest. I'm not sure if she was just rounding up the 300 yards (900 feet) to 1,000 or if the rules are indeed different.

In any event, the short answer is yes. But if you drove your vehicle 299 feet, parked and camped at 301 feet just to prove a point, I hope the ranger finds something to ticket you with. That's just asinine.

My guess is the ranger uses their discretion and their well developed sense of punishing asshatery.
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Old 07-02-2011, 12:35 PM   #11
Olas OP
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I had an interesting conversation with the ranger's office at State Forest (state park) about that. You could leave your car parked and hike back to a site. They said 1,000 feet from the car. If you do that, no permit required for the camping but you still need a day-use permit on your vehicle. If you camp in the designated sites (which provide pit toilets, fire rings, etc), then you pay the camping fee in addition to the day-use permit. That's a state park, by the way, not national forest. I'm not sure if she was just rounding up the 300 yards (900 feet) to 1,000 or if the rules are indeed different.
Would this be ok at any state park or are the rules different at all of them?

The thing about our camp where we got razzed was that our car was way closer to the road than our tent was.. (definitely within 100 yds.) So when the ranger told me I had to be within 100 yds (300 ft.) from the road I assumed it meant the tent.
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Old 07-02-2011, 01:17 PM   #12
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That 100 feet from water issue must not be enforced much. I can see and have used tons of established primitive sites all over Colorado right at the water's edge. And how many forest service campgrounds are set up right next to the water? A lot of it is a bunch of bull. I think for the most part they want to herd everyone into a more concentrated area for better control and fee colletion. I get their motive, but as far as I'm concerned they can stuff their good intentions. I don't build campfires. I carry all trash out. I use my chemical toilet for all serious business. I go to great effort to not rut up muddy 2-tracks or campsites. I don't go out in the wilds to try and satisfy some bureaucrat's desire to put everyone in a box. It's the standard governmental response to outlaw activity because of the irresponsibility of a few. Sorry for the rant, but the reason most of us go out into the great outdoors is to enjoy it...not be crammed, jammed, and scammed into holding pens with a bunch of other folks. I'm old enough to have constantly seen this slow, choking off outdoor enjoyment on so many levels that it just pisses me off.

Olas, on your ranger encounter, it's not unusual to find they're not always totally knowledgeable on some of these issues. Down in Moab recently, a couple of us were camped in the foothills of the La Sal mountains out past Ken's Lake. The San Juan County SO enforces camping issues in this area, and this area has been posted "No Camping" more and more each year. We were camped in a spot well past the "barrier" signs of which I'm well aware of. A deputy came by on a Friday evening right at dusk telling us this was an unauthorized campsite...a well used and well worn site well outside of the signage. I brought this to his attention, and he said they probably just hadn't posted it yet. I told him I thought that would prohibit any action until proper signage had been implemented. He got a little indignant that I was politely challenging his decision to try and throw us off our site. When he got huffy, I told him that the two of us camping were retired cops with over 60 years between us, and we felf he was overstepping his authority under these circumstances. Well, he pulled his horns in at that point, but I can only wonder what he would have done with someone else. Frankly the guy was a bit of a jerk. He said we could stay that evening, but he'd be back next evening to see if we were gone.

The next day I stopped at the BLM office in Moab and talked to a lady I know there, as this was BLM land before it turns into forest land up the mountain. She verified on the map that this was an appropriate campsite and was even familiar with it specifically. She even gave me a brown BLM placard campsite post to take back out to the site. The deputy never came back that I saw. And me being a retired cop or not, I stopped off at the SJ county SO in Monticello to make a formal complaint on the guy. His boss confided to me that it was unusual for the deputy to even be enforcing camping violations without a direct complaint from either another camper or the BLM or forest service. He checked the log and confirmed there were no complaints or a call to that area. The supervisor understood the potential hardship for someone who had set up a tent or extensive camp to have to pull up stakes on a Friday night in hopes of finding another site...in the dark...especially when they weren't violating any regulations. The supervisor even called me long distance back at my home to report that he had spoken to the deputy and warned him about trying to enforce camping violations in an area without signage or warnings. In fact he jokingly told me that he told the deputy to not be enforcing any campsite violations without a direct complaint or checking in with a supervisor.

I just relate this to point out that sometimes the folks in charge don't always have their ducks in a row either. It's just a shame that you almost have to have a regulation manual to go out into the outdoors anymore. I understand why some of it has occurred, but it's a bit like that baby-and-the-bath-water scenario.
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Old 07-03-2011, 09:00 AM   #13
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That 100 feet from water issue must not be enforced much. I can see and have used tons of established primitive sites all over Colorado right at the water's edge. And how many forest service campgrounds are set up right next to the water? A lot of it is a bunch of bull.
There are very sound ecological reasons for not camping within 100 feet of water; reducing the amount of fecal material that enters the stream system. YOU may be responsible, but what about the next guy? And plenty of people still think it's OK to wash out their dishes in a stream. There's nothing like seeing somebody's dinner in a pristine stream system, or worse, endless suds and foam floating down.

As for FS campgrounds, if they're on a waterway, they always have facilities. I can't recall seeing one that doesn't. At least not in a REALLY long time.

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I think for the most part they want to herd everyone into a more concentrated area for better control and fee colletion. I get their motive, but as far as I'm concerned they can stuff their good intentions. I don't build campfires. I carry all trash out. I use my chemical toilet for all serious business. I go to great effort to not rut up muddy 2-tracks or campsites.
You and me both, but I'm glad we have all those campgrounds. Give the clowns an easy solution and they're less likely or interested in dispersed camping. That means less shit-stained TP in the bushes.
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Old 07-03-2011, 09:43 AM   #14
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.... YOU may be responsible, but what about the next guy? .....
Hit the nail right on the head.
The USFS has to establish rules and regulations based on the lowest common denominator.

Who, unfortunately, are complete ass-hats who'll trash out an area, tear through it with their vehicle, and cut down green trees for firewood.
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Old 07-03-2011, 11:51 AM   #15
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Strange, I was always told anything that was a mile off paved roads (and not private property) was fair game. I've been primitive camping my whole life based on that and never had a problem.
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