View topic - Campsite improvements. What's acceptable?

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PostPosted: October 10th, 2018, 5:51 pm 
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My wife and I paddled the Dumoine River this past August. We had a great trip down the river and figured we were spending out last night of the trip at the Three Sister camp site. Next morning the weather was beautiful. We decided that we just weren't ready for the trip to end that day so we decided to stay on the campsite for a second night.

When we arrived on the campsite there was a fire pit with three small tree trunks wrapping around the first pit. With a bit of extra time on my hands while my wife decided to do some writing, I pulled out my bush saw and spent a couple of hours cutting through a large tree that had fallen in the camp site. I made a 6' or 2 m long raised bench by the existing fire pit. Bench is a generous description. It's a long log, stripped of it's bark, resting on two short logs that have cuts which prevent the long log from rolling off. It's something comfortable and stable to sit on by the fire. It's something that I didn't think looked out of place or obtrusive.

At every other campsite we stopped at along the river minus the Margret Spry Campsite maintained by the Rod & Gun club as photographed in MartinG's trip report
http://www.myccr.com/phpbbforum/viewtop ... 16&t=47074
there was nothing at the campsites except fire pits created by previous campers. Sometimes there was a log that had been dragged close to the fire pit. As I had just about finished my last cut the thought fallen tree it occurred to me that maybe there was no benches (raised logs) at the campsites because some folks like their campsites to be left natural. Or maybe folks had been too tired from paddling white water all day and didn't have the energy or inclination to build something. I later found out as we paddled the last miles/kilometers out that at the campsites where motorboats can come up from the Ottawa river, things were not left as natural, 20 ft tree trunks for benches, a metal table brought in. Definitely not as nice looking IMO. Now there had obviously been a big effort by a group who's name now escapes me, to bring in colorfully painted thunder boxes to a number of the campsites along the river, again, as documented in MartinG's trip report. And a big Thank You to all those involved in that effort.

So camping's prime directive is that you should leave a campsite as you found it or cleaner if someone has littered. We also know people leave their fire pits and sometimes brush stack by it. Some parks such as Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park in Ontario have metal fire pit boxes and metal picnic tables at all their back country campsites. When someone cuts trees along a portage or arranges some stones to make crossing an area easier is that an acceptable alteration? At the Grand Chute on the Dumoine there was stacks of lumber in August for replacing or adding boardwalk on the portage trail around those falls. Some campsites I've stayed at people have constructed tables lashed with rope between trees to make life simpler. I've used the table and left it. I was on a campsite in Algonquin once and someone at a island campsite near me had a chainsaw going for an hour. I don't think it was just for firewood.

As you might guess by my long rambling post, my conscious is wrestling with my action. My question, what campsite alterations are acceptable? What does camping etiquette say?... or am I just making a mountain out of a mole hill?

Dave


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PostPosted: October 10th, 2018, 8:23 pm 
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At first I didn't like to see 'counters' that may have been made to clean fish on but come in handy preparing food. Now, as I get older, I like them more.

I had no idea, though, that there were so many broken fridges out there until I started camping! :D

O know it's a different subject, but it's the garbage---broken chairs, empty cans etc---that bother me a lot more than 'improvements", esp if they are made from logs or other naturally occurring materials.

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PostPosted: October 10th, 2018, 8:29 pm 
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It is certainly an interesting discussion and I won't pretend to have the answers. But I've made improvements and seen those made by others that were not done so well.

Back in 2012 when hiking the Kenomee Canyon loop in Nova Scotia with a friend, we build stone chairs at the campsite on Murphy Brook. You can see them in this picture - 3 of them. I just learned last week from a facebook group that the chairs are still there - so people like them!

https://imgur.com/Yt5cOrO

A lot of the sites in North Frontenac Parklands have tables and shelves built - some done extremely well and others done so poorly that honestly we'd be better off without. I definitely find it handy to have a well made table or shelf but I can also see where others may not like this.

Perhaps one rule of thumb might be that if there are several campsites near each other and one is already pimped up, maybe don't do alterations to others for the sake of people who might prefer it that way.


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PostPosted: October 11th, 2018, 1:23 am 
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I'm a fan of "less is more".

I love it when I get there and there's nothing there.
That's the way I try and leave it for the next visitor too.

If you want tables and chairs then bring them in and out for your own trip.
Otherwise, let me decide whether or not to have them in my camp.


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PostPosted: October 11th, 2018, 7:22 am 
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In Ontario provincial parks and conservation reserves, the park plan or the management direction statement may describe what the actual policy is... or emailing the superintendent for additional info might help. On crown land campsites, probably anything goes wrt improvements although the district manager might have something to say if things get excessive.

Wilderness-class parks may be less likely to tolerate campsite alterations... IIRC Killarney park policy is to discourage improvements by removing them, although that info is old and a new park super may have changed policy. A natural environment park like Algonquin is more likely to tolerate improvements, while a nature reserve park won't allow any alteration at all, and that includes camping and campsites.

The reality on the ground might be different... a nature reserve park near me, Egan Chutes, prohibits camping, but if you visit the place there are campsites, and often campers using them.

https://i2.wp.com/www.adventurereport.c ... -signs.jpg

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PostPosted: October 11th, 2018, 7:39 am 
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frozentripper wrote:
A natural environment park like Algonquin is more likely to tolerate improvements,


A few years back, I came upon a work crew leaving a campsite on Bonnechere Lake in a yellow float plane, having just finished furnishing the site with a newly hewn chainsaw table and 4 chair set.


... but what bothers me more than anything is finding nails in trees.


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PostPosted: October 11th, 2018, 2:20 pm 
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No campsite improvements.

Wilderness/nature is perfect as is.

Less is more. That’s why I’m there.

In well used areas simple outdoor toilets such as green thrones or thunderboxs are a good idea.

I believe outdoor toilets and picnic tables in near backcountry sites helps front country campers transition to backcountry camping.

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PostPosted: October 11th, 2018, 2:50 pm 
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Paddle Power wrote:
I believe outdoor toilets and picnic tables in near backcountry sites helps front country campers transition to backcountry camping.


Until the yahoos burn the picnic tables for firewood.

My favorite site on Crotch Lake North Frontenac Parklands used to have a picnic table. I really don't know what happened to it but I've always assumed yahoos burned it for firewood.


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PostPosted: October 12th, 2018, 7:03 am 
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OSU... with Algonquin getting almost a million visitors a year, and campsites overused, management probably doesn't have much choice except to try and keep high-use campsites up with tables and chairs. I don't mind high-use improved campsites very much except that they don't have the qualities that the more primitive ones often do.

Algonquin generates more than enough money in user fees to pay for campsite maintenance and cleanup, but it's the other parks that get fewer visitors + fees and non-operating parks that don't generate any revenue at all that are likely to get abused with nothing being done as time goes on. Keeping parks "clean" was one of Doug Ford's campaign promises, so if there are shortcomings, it might be worth writing to the minister or park superintendent to complain.

2018 is the year that the new Algonquin park management plan is due with change needed for compliance with the new Parks Act and still no posting on the Environmental Bill of Rights registry. New ministry for parks too.

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PostPosted: October 12th, 2018, 1:30 pm 
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frozentripper wrote:
...Keeping parks "clean" was one of Doug Ford's campaign promises...


In Dougie's case, that may mean clear-cutting! :o


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PostPosted: October 12th, 2018, 5:32 pm 
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Algonquintripper wrote:
frozentripper wrote:
...Keeping parks "clean" was one of Doug Ford's campaign promises...


In Dougie's case, that may mean clear-cutting! :o


Where's the LIKE button when it's really needed??!!

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PostPosted: October 12th, 2018, 8:25 pm 
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The only improvements I value are the two that do as much for site and environmental protection than any creature comfort, they being 1) a stone fire ring and 2) a thunderbox. The former helps to ensure a responsible location and size for fire under acceptable conditions. The latter helps to ensure a responsible location for fecal containment and treatment. We've all been on sites where one or both have been poorly used or poorly sited, but ideally they can provide years of low impact camping with a small measure of improved comfort. Like I say, the eco protection is easily as important as the comfort.
Nothing else is necessary. If I wanted bushcrafter bling I'd frontcountry camp with picnic tables and landscaping, safe swimming areas and laundromats, overflow parking and plugins. Those are all excellent for that kind of recreation, but I'd prefer not to colour outside the lines. Let's not turn backcountry campsites into cottage yards and hillbilly motels.
Rant over.


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PostPosted: October 13th, 2018, 7:42 am 
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Unless the bench is made from a substantial sized log, chances are someone will decide to use it as fire wood sometime in the near future.

The large inventory of abandoned fire grates found along popular rivers like the Petawawa and Dumoine bother me more than anything else.


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PostPosted: October 16th, 2018, 6:52 am 
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Crown land campsite on Bark lake, SE of Algonquin... somebody built a table from 2x4s. Not my favorite campsite, but nice to stop in on a day paddle, have lunch or dinner and then be on your way. There are often motorboats puttering around so not the most remote kind of place.

Image

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PostPosted: October 16th, 2018, 9:52 am 
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I appreciate the input people. Good information about the different types of parks and how superintendents have their own ideas about how the park's campsites should be. I didn't know that stuff.

When we arrived at the campsite there was a fire pit with an iron grill someone had left and there were a number of logs arranged around the fire pit for sitting on. There was nails in the trees too. All the things that irritate a bunch of this thread's contributors. Doug is probably right in saying that someone will try to burn it but I suspect the smaller trunks will be used before they get to the one I put there. It will be interesting to see if it eventually removed by someone.

A log to sit at beside a fire pit has never seemed out of place to me because I've seen them at campsite so many times. A convenience, that if there, I will use. That said I do bring a stool or small chair when I trip now.

Ok, I get it. Less is more.


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File comment: View of the log bench added at the Three Sisters campsite on the Dumoine. The view is looking south.
Screen Shot 2018-10-16 at 10.19.24 AM.png
Screen Shot 2018-10-16 at 10.19.24 AM.png [ 1.08 MiB | Viewed 238 times ]
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