Recreation in the backcountry has boomed in recent years with visitors who are seeking solitude and adventure away from our normal fast paced lives. Many of us have favorite areas in wilderness which we like to return to when the opportunity arises. Unfortunately, some of these areas are being loved to death and may never be the same if we don't start to improve our backcountry ethics and skills. Leave No Trace techniques will help insure that a quality experience will be available to us and to future generations. To further limit impacts and help heal the wilderness, management has implemented the regulations for visitor use in the Opal Creek Wilderness.
Regulations are identified by a small Forest Service shield. The regulations are accompanied by Leave No Trace technique recommendations. By knowing and applying the following techniques and regulations, you will be helping to preserve the beauty and solitude of America's Great Outdoors.
PLAN AHEAD AND PREPARE
Unnecessary impact in backcountry areas can be avoided by carefully preparing for your trip. Seek information about the area you plan to visit from Wilderness Managers. Purchase maps for the area and plan your route knowing how many days it will take you to travel and what experience level is required to achieve this goal. Prepare for your journey by selecting only the gear and food that is essential, repackage to lighten your load. Visit in small groups and avoid popular areas during times of high use.
Permits: Entering the Opal Creek Wilderness without a permit is prohibited. Permits are being used to collect visitor use information only. Permits are self-issued at trailheads. There is no fee.
TRAVEL TO AVOID IMPACT
Trails are quickly eroded by cutting switchbacks. Walk and ride single file in the center of the main trail. Avoid making new or multiple trails. Report problems to the Forest Service.
Group Size: Entrance into the Opal Creek Wilderness with a party of more than 12 persons and/or 18 head of stock is prohibited. Large groups multiply impacts to the wilderness and disrupt the solitude of others.
Camping and Group Size: Camping in the Lakes Basin Management Area with a party of more than 6 people and/or 9 head of stock is prohibited. Large groups are especially disruptive in a fragile heavily used environment.
WATER AND SANITATION
Protect the water resource by washing at least 200 feet away from water sources using biodegradable soaps, and keeping food stuffs out of the lakes and streams. Dispose of human waste by burying in catholes 6-8" deep 200 feet away from water, camp, and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole. Toilet paper should be buried or packed out.
Camping: Camping within 100 feet of lakes and 100 feet of posted wetlands unless the site is designated as a campsite is prohibited. Stream and lakeshore vegetation are fragile areas easily impacted by humans. Camping near lakes also restricts access to water for wildlife and reduces wilderness solitude for others.
Restoration Sites: Entering any posted restoration site is prohibited. These sensitive and damaged areas have been replanted to restore natural condition.
Recreation in the backcountry has greatly increased and the natural appearance of many areas has been compromised by overuse of fires and an increasing demand for firewood. Stoves may be the best option for minimum-impact camping. If you choose to build a fire, use an established fire ring if available. If there is no fire ring, use a firepan, fire cloth, or build a mound fire. Collect only down and dead wood and burn it entirely. Clean unburned trash out of the fire ring and spread the ashes.
Campfires: Campfires within 100 feet of lakes and 100 feet of posted wetlands are prohibited, unless the site is designated as a campsite. Campfires consume wood, kill vegetation, sterilizes soil, and scars the land. Decaying wood improves soil for future plant growth and provides insect and bird habitat.
Campfires In Popular Locations: are prohibited within 1/4 mile of the following lakes: Bear (north), Blue, Chimney, Dollar, Eagle Lake, Frazier, Little Frazier, Glacier, Hobo, Ice, Jewett, Laverty, Maxwell, Mirror, Moccasin, Prospect, Steamboat, Sunshine, Swamp, Tombstone, Traverse, and Upper. These areas have little or no dead wood available for campfires and need time to heal.
Cutting of Trees: Cutting or damaging any tree is prohibited. Both live and dead trees are a part of the natural ecosystem. Use dead and down wood for campfires.
PACK IT IN, PACK IT OUT
Pick up and pack out all of your litter. Begin by reducing litter at the source. While preparing for your trip, repackage food into reusable containers or zip-lock bags.
Pack Out Personal Property in Wilderness: Storing, leaving or abandoning of personal property, equipment, or supplies for more than 72 hours is prohibited. Helps protect animals from harmful contents in personal property items, and helps protect the wilderness experience of others (by reducing cached gear and garbage.
PLANNING AHEAD AND TRAINING OF LIVESTOCK
Practice your backcountry stock containment method at home before heading into the wilderness. Fit all equipment ahead of time to be sure it fits properly. Use animals that are fit, calm, and experienced. Minimize gear and food so only the minimum number of animals are taken into the wilderness.
Livestock: Grazing, hitching, or tethering of stock within 200 feet of all lakes is prohibited. These areas are sensitive to the effects of repeated grazing. Bacteria in the water source and damage to fragile vegetation can upset the natural balance of the lake.
The key to stock containment is to remember that more confinement can generally be equated to more impact and restless behavior. Use a portable electric fence, highline, hobbles, pickets, a temporary hitchline or allow your stock to free roam. A well fed, well watered horse that is allowed to roll and rinse off sweat will be more content and less apt to paw or dig.
Livestock and Water: Hitching or tethering of stock within 100 feet of all streams or posted wetlands is prohibited. Wetlands are very fragile and sedimentation flowing into the streams causes impacts to water quality and fisheries.
STOCK IN CAMP
Stock should spend the shortest amount of time possible in camp, only enough to load and unload. If you do tie up to trees while loading and unloading stock select a live tree at least 8" in diameter.
Tying Livestock to Trees: Hitching or tethering of saddle or pack stock to trees at campsites except for loading and unloading is prohibited. Trees can die from bark or root damage caused by stock animals.
In some areas, forage is limited depending on the site and time of year. Be prepared by bringing weed free feed (processed grains, pellets, pack cubes, weed free hay). To prevent the spread of weeds, feed certified feed one day prior to your trip.
Livestock Feed: Possessing, storing or transporting any supplemental livestock feed not free of any and all noxious weed seeds is prohibited. Supplemental feed can be a source of weed seeds that are not a natural part of the wilderness ecosystem.
Motorized and Mechanized Equipment: Possessing or using motorized equipment, mechanized equipment and hang gliders is prohibited. Examples are chainsaws, bicycles, wagons, game carts, or other wheeled vehicles. Wheelchairs are exempt form this regulation. Wheeled transportation devices are incompatible with primitive wilderness characteristics and the legal definition of wilderness.
* For more specific information on Leave No Trace techniques, visit http://www.lnt.org/