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Conflicting messages about camping near waterbodies in wilderness: A review of the scientific basis and need for flexibility

Posted date: August 30, 2018
Publication Year: 
2018
Authors: Marion, Jeffrey; Wimpey, Jeremy; Lawhon, Ben
Publication Series: 
Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Source: International Journal of Wilderness. 24(2). 12 p.

Abstract

Land managers have commonly sought to discourage or prohibit camping near surface waters (e.g., lakes, rivers, streams, and springs), imposing regulations that prohibit camping within a specified distance from water. As Griffin presents, these camping setbacks from water within Forest Service Wilderness areas currently range from 50 to 1,320 ft, with 100 ft as the most common prohibition, followed by 200 ft, which is the distance recommended by the national Leave No Trace and Tread Lightly programs. An earlier survey by Washburne and Cole (1983) reported the following percentages of agency units that employed camping setback from water regulations: Forest Service (37%), National Park Service (22%), Fish & Wildlife Service (7%), and Bureau of Land Management (18%). Distances ranged from 20 to 2,640, with 100 ft as the most common distance. In 1992, Marion, Roggenbuck, and Manning (1993) surveyed National Park Service units with substantial backcountry and wilderness with similar findings: 41 units (44%) employed camping setback from water regulations, with a range of 5 to 2,640 ft and 100 ft as the most common value (22 units, 23%).

Citation

Marion, Jeffrey; Wimpey, Jeremy; Lawhon, Ben. 2018. Conflicting messages about camping near waterbodies in wilderness: A review of the scientific basis and need for flexibility. International Journal of Wilderness. 24(2). 12 p.