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PostPosted: February 25th, 2020, 11:42 am 
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I find that while I appreciate spotting the start of a portage from across a lake, seeing orange flagging tape strewn about the woods also takes a little bit of the adventure and fun out of being outdoors. To put it more bluntly, I think it's an eyesore and environmentally unfriendly. I'm keenly aware of how long plastic flagging tape lasts and view it a bit like littering, so a while ago I made the switch to biodegradable tape. It's wood pulp based and lasts a fraction of the time as its plastic counterpart. I suppose I'm on a crusade to get people to make the switch with me. What are your thoughts on the subject?


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PostPosted: February 25th, 2020, 12:27 pm 
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Location: Southern Ontario
I don't have any issue with it as long as it is used to mark what would normally be a proper trail that for some reason is no longer easy to spot or navigate. The normal marking plaques of the MNR are meant to last a long time (decades), so the tape lasting a long time should not really be an issue if used for this purpose,it does not harm the tree in any way. With that being said, I do see your point if people are marking it all over the place with no real intent or purpose other than to find their way back from bushwhacking and leaving it up. Whenever I have used it for this purpose I always cut it off on my way back and pack it out. I also cut anyone else's off too if it is not on an established trail.
I have not seen the biodegradable tape, but will for sure keep an eye out for it as I think we should all do whatever possible to keep out back country pristine and beautiful and this tape is a step in that direction for sure.

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PostPosted: February 25th, 2020, 2:56 pm 
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Location: Geraldton, Ontario Can
As someone who routinely cuts ports and flags them with regular flagging tape, I can say I'm a big fan. In the north, ports often disappear after five or six years. When we re-open them, many times we are saved by finding a fleck of faded flagging tape, sometimes still precariously hanging from a branch, sometimes actually on the ground. When flagging, only small pieces are needed, and I can tell you, from many years of experience, with a few years they become very difficult to find.

As a side note, would you prefer blazes in trees? This was the traditional way of marking trails, and we still do that too.

Ports don't magically appear in the middle of nowhere. If you are walking on one, it is probably because someone flagged it and/or blazed it and then cut it, often with a chainsaw.

The only problem I have with flagging tape is if someone is flagging a port, but are going in the wrong direction, and then don't take their tapes back down after they find the actual port. That can be a pain in the buttocks.


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PostPosted: February 25th, 2020, 4:17 pm 
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Joined: September 11th, 2019, 5:54 pm
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Orange flagging tape in Ontario is used by Government employees only. It is illegal to remove it. Any other colour is available to non-Gov. canoers. On Wabakimi Project trips we used yellow and blue flagging tape. We took it down after clearing and during measuring the portages. On the Attwood River this summer we found pink flagging tape. It was used by moose and bear hunters to mark the portages. With the long stretches of moving water we found these tapes to be helpful.


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PostPosted: February 25th, 2020, 4:27 pm 
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Location: Geraldton, Ontario Can
I'm not sure where you got the info on orange flagging tape, but I can buy a big bundle of it at the local hardware store. In fact, it is very difficult to find other colours up here. Not sure where you got the info about it being illegal to remove too. Everyone up here uses it, and I have never heard of it being illegal.


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PostPosted: February 25th, 2020, 4:38 pm 
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Hiking in the Adirondacks, on a portage trail or not, If I see unauthorized colored flagging tape (not placed there by Forest rangers for a specific/official reason), I often go home with pockets bulging with the dang unsightful stuff.


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PostPosted: February 25th, 2020, 5:31 pm 
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I do prefer tree blazes myself and will shave a tree when needed. I've also seen people kick up moss and hang it in a tree, but this can be tough to spot sometimes and imagine if everyone did this! Mostly, I object to leaving a trail a plastic behind me. I try to collect my flags on the double carry, but sometimes miss one or two. This allows me to reuse tape, though not infinitely. I guess I'm just on my high horse trying to spread the word of the biodegradable stuff.


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PostPosted: February 25th, 2020, 5:46 pm 
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Let's just say it is the only colour used by MNR types and should not be removed.;)


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PostPosted: February 25th, 2020, 5:58 pm 
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Location: Geraldton, Ontario Can
I can honestly say I've never seen an MNR type flagging a canoe route up here, lol. MNR hasn't maintained canoe routes for many decades, last serious attempts I know of was junior rangers in the 70's.

As always, it's a matter of perspective. If you are travelling in a park where maintenance crews keep ports open, why would you flag anything? If you are on Crown Land where the port is seldom used, once you get the right route, leave the tape up for the next guy. I have yet to meet a canoeist up here who cursed flagging tape, when a lot of times it might be the only thing putting them on the right track. I know if someone had flagged out a port for me before we cut it, I would actually be grateful.


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PostPosted: February 26th, 2020, 8:47 am 
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Joined: December 9th, 2012, 9:57 am
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I've only ever seen orange tape and can buy it in several places.


Last edited by Odyssey on February 26th, 2020, 8:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: February 26th, 2020, 8:51 am 
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Location: Kanata
I hate seeing garbage, plastic or other crap left behind by canoeists or hunters/fishermen. The exception to this is portages in rarely used areas. I have no problem with someone leaving behind a bit of flagging tape to show where a portage starts/finishes.
We paddled the North French River last summer. To get into the river one has to portage about 1km through a very old clear cut - ie not very clear with lots of 6-8 foot high trees packed close together. That was my first time portaging through an area like that. Flagging tape saved our bacon, especially in the fading light. We flagged the crap out of that portage so we could find our way back through it. It would be incredibly easy to get lost in a 'forest' like that. Hopefully if someone else uses the portage they will find our pink flagging tape helpful. I agree that in a managed and more frequently used area flagging tape should be removed, but I see use for it in under used areas.

rab


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PostPosted: February 26th, 2020, 10:57 am 
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Location: Eganville, ON
My personal opinion is no to the flagging tape. I much prefer the more natural look of an axe blaze. Especially in remote areas it seems awful to be bringing plastics in and leaving them strewn about an otherwise pristine forest. Admittedly not all colors stand out well for me, so I can find an axe blaze just as easily.


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PostPosted: February 26th, 2020, 11:28 am 
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Location: Marathon/Superior
Agree with Rob's point that there's really no perfect solution with the alternative being blazing.

I rarely flag though. Usually just try to do an especially good job of clearing the landing so that it's obvious to anyone with a map where the port begins. But if it's still going to be difficult to see, I blaze a tree. From there, if a trail can't be followed without blazes and flags, it's the trail that needs work. An obvious flag at the ends can be fine too, though personally I prefer not to see it, but I don't think the entire trail needs to be flagged.

Finding the take out is the main thing, and if there's uncertainly after that, it's time to scout and get out your saw.

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PostPosted: February 26th, 2020, 1:03 pm 
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Meh, a lot worse behaviours to complain about in the backcountry....


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PostPosted: February 26th, 2020, 8:58 pm 
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Joined: April 16th, 2003, 1:50 pm
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Location: Toronto
I've only nibbled at the edges of the larger wilderness in northern Ontario, but on a few occasions I've been quite fascinated to see the barely-a-trail portage marked solely by the meanest little strip of faded flagging tape imaginable. On the other hand here in the GTA in the middle of 5 million people, there's various agencies that use it and I clean it all out again wherever and whenever I see it haha.


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