BWCA The future of pooping in the wilderness Boundary Waters Listening Point - General Discussion
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05/13/2022 04:16PM  
It looks like all back country campers in Guadalupe National Park will need to use wag bags and pack waste out after June 21'st and many other parks will be following suit.
backcountry-trahttps://www.nationalparkstraveler.org/2022/04/velers-guadalupe-mountains-national-park-will-need-wag-bags

With the difficulty of finding new sites at many campsites for the latrine and the possibility of bacteria, chemicals and nutrients leaching into the water, I wonder if it will be the future of BWCA and even Quetico. Finding old deposits when digging cat holes in Quetico decreases the feeling of escaping civilization and there are many sites where the amount of dirt over rock is not deep enough or far enough from the water. Plus I feel like digging in these areas is causing more of the dirt to erode off and degrade the site. It would also decrease the maintenance needed in the BWCA. It is pretty obvious the forest service is having a hard time keeping up with the replacement of latrines. Has anyone heard of these changes being considered?
https:/ poop etiquette GUMO new regulations
 
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mschi772
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05/14/2022 07:54AM  
My initial thought is that making this a rule could be disastrous. Without latrines, I imagine many people would ignore the rule to pack waste out and would, instead, resort to catholing or much worse. The USFS already doesn't have nearly a fraction of the number of employees to properly enforce the rules it already has, and this would be the kind of rule that would really need good, thorough enforcement in order to really succeed.

This doesn't mean I would personally oppose this or a number of other stricter rules and regulations, but without better education and enforcement which requires a significant investment/commitment from the USFS, I think it is utterly pointless to make the rules in the hope that just having the rules is enough. We already know it isn't.
 
tumblehome
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05/14/2022 01:14PM  
Thankfully the BWCA is not a park and is not regulated by the NPS.
Tom
 
Banksiana
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05/14/2022 01:51PM  
Not applicable to BWCA as sites are supplied with latrines.There is no reason to dig a cat hole in the BWCA.

As for the Quetico.... I wish people weren't so frightened of being in the woods that they can't hike a couple of hundred yards before burying their landmines. The number of times I've found such debris within close proximity to fire pits, shoreline, tent sites and even on lessor tent sites. It's unfathomable to me.
 
MossBack
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05/14/2022 02:04PM  
Banksiana: "Not applicable to BWCA as sites are supplied with latrines.There is no reason to dig a cat hole in the BWCA.


As for the Quetico.... I wish people weren't so frightened of being in the woods that they can't hike a couple of hundred yards before burying their landmines. The number of times I've found such debris within close proximity to fire pits, shoreline, tent sites and even on lessor tent sites. It's unfathomable to me."

While we are discussing this subject. I would like to hear opinions on the so called "bio-degradable?" wiping material. Coleman BioWipes being just one example.
 
Savage Voyageur
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05/14/2022 03:45PM  
The day I’m required to pack out my waste, will be my last day. Plenty of others spots to vacation at that don’t have these rules.
 
sedges
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05/14/2022 04:15PM  
In arid places, especially Guadalope and Big Bend NP poop doesn't break down at all, it just desiccates, preserved by low humidity for years on the surface. Not a whole lot of loose soil there either. With lighter and lighter backpacking gear more people are getting further and further into the back country of these parks.

In 1972 a friend and I spent all of January in Big Bend NP. We were the only people in the campgrounds and never saw anybody in the backcountry. Now its hard to get reservation for the campground in January.

I think the BWCA is safe for latrine use. Enough moisture and warm temps for adequate composting.
 
Banksiana
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05/14/2022 05:40PM  
MossBack: "
While we are discussing this subject. I would like to hear opinions on the so called "bio-degradable?" wiping material. Coleman BioWipes being just one example."


I was listening to a sewage engineer on the radio or a podcast who stated that "flushable or biodegradable wipes" are basically a lie- that they didn't break down in the course of treatment and were not suitable for sewer or septic (much less sitting in the ground).
 
MossBack
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05/14/2022 09:06PM  
So is the only answer to use an Opsak or a similar item like SmellyProof bag , and then pack them out?
 
Banksiana
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05/15/2022 11:47AM  
Options:
Save and burn. Don't use. Use reusable system (small pack towel, liquid soap, squeeze bottle of water- quite effective [realized on first morning of a Q trip that my TP was in a ziplock on my dining room table])
 
05/15/2022 12:52PM  
The latrines are one of the things I think the forest service has done right. Only a handful of times have I seen these misused. Quetico really doesn’t need them, but it is disgusting when people can’t get the concept of proper disposal and doing it away from camp. Packing out poo? I hope our kids don’t have to resort to that...
 
PineKnot
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05/15/2022 05:28PM  
Savage Voyageur: "The day I’m required to pack out my waste, will be my last day. Plenty of others spots to vacation at that don’t have these rules. "

Exactly my reaction when my daughter hiked overnight in an area of a national park in CA and had to pack their own crap out....I said I would never go there for that very reason....
 
carbon1
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05/16/2022 03:20AM  
The forest service does require it also in some wilderness areas.

The last time I was in the Cloud Peak area in Wyoming I was surprised they had adopted the rule in certain areas.

Thousands of piles of moose and elk crap laying around.

 
MikeinMpls
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05/16/2022 08:39AM  
If adopted, my guess would be that 50%, at most, would follow the rule. Likely less. I think many trippers would scoop up their poop and deposit it in the water...perhaps in the middle of the lake, but in the water nonetheless. Others would burn it, and since fires are to be contained in the fire grate, the fire grate area would become very unsanitary.

Mike
 
thistlekicker
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05/16/2022 09:42AM  
I'm a little surprised how different the cultures of canoe camping and backpacking are when it comes to things like waste disposal and food storage. Things that are accepted without much opposition in the backpacking world are treated like "over my dead body!" among a surprising number of canoe campers.

I get that the BWCA is not a national park but it seems like a lot of the same issues are relevant. Always been a little surprised that pit latrine use is accepted without much questioning and have wondered what targeted water quality monitoring might reveal in certain circumstances.
 
05/17/2022 11:14AM  
MossBack: "Banksiana: "Not applicable to BWCA as sites are supplied with latrines.There is no reason to dig a cat hole in the BWCA.



As for the Quetico.... I wish people weren't so frightened of being in the woods that they can't hike a couple of hundred yards before burying their landmines. The number of times I've found such debris within close proximity to fire pits, shoreline, tent sites and even on lessor tent sites. It's unfathomable to me."

While we are discussing this subject. I would like to hear opinions on the so called "bio-degradable?" wiping material. Coleman BioWipes being just one example."


I use it at home and in the woods toilet paper that says it is good in cesspools. It breaks down very fast when it contacts water.
 
andym
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05/17/2022 12:39PM  
carbon1:
Thousands of piles of moose and elk crap laying around.
"


The crap left behind by grazing animals and that left behind by people are completely different. Also true comparing grazing animals and dogs. The latter is a debate that frequently rages on our area's Nextdoor social media because we have a lot of horses. Riders are not required to pooper-scoop while dog owners are required to do that. Plenty of people dislike having the horse droppings on trails and the beach, including me, but it just doesn't have the same health implications as dog or people crap.

We've never camped where we had to pack out our crap but have had to pack out the TP. Not fun but not a huge problem either.
 
05/17/2022 12:45PM  
thistlekicker: "I'm a little surprised how different the cultures of canoe camping and backpacking are when it comes to things like waste disposal and food storage. Things that are accepted without much opposition in the backpacking world are treated like "over my dead body!" among a surprising number of canoe campers.

I get that the BWCA is not a national park but it seems like a lot of the same issues are relevant. Always been a little surprised that pit latrine use is accepted without much questioning and have wondered what targeted water quality monitoring might reveal in certain circumstances. "


Backpacking has always been a bit of a different animal compared to canoe camping. You can backpack into campsites with bear boxes, picnic tables, and even bathrooms. Or you can backpack into the wilderness, go ultra light weight, and pack out your own poop. Canoe camping is somewhere in between those two.

If I really wanted to go all out and get the best gear, the latest tech, and get out in the actual wilderness, then I would go backpacking in the mountains or the badlands. The BWCA is just not that type of adventure. It's not that intense or extreme. Of course people are going to have different expectations than backpackers.
 
mal11
 
05/17/2022 09:58PM  
the worst place I've even seen are remote locales in the Iceland highlands that are yet accessible by car or tour bus..... idiots leaving rocks on their pile of white toilet paper.
 
cburton103
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05/17/2022 10:35PM  
Call me a wuss, but I used wag bags for the first time ever just a few months ago in Canyonlands National Park while backpacking for four days, and the experience turned me off of camping places that require wag bags. The bag ended up getting a few small holes in it, and the scent of poop followed me everywhere for the last two days. User error, sure. But it was pretty gross.
 
Savage Voyageur
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05/17/2022 11:07PM  
I found this beauty on Ensign last year. this is the future.
 
Argo
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05/18/2022 03:41PM  
 
Zulu
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05/18/2022 04:15PM  
cburton103:the scent of poop followed me everywhere for the last two days. User error, sure. But it was pretty gross."
I had the same problem with the odor permeating through the Wag bag as it was attached to the outside of my pack. I was wondering why people I stopped to talk to on the trail were brief with me and turned away. Then I realized I was up wind from them. I now use an extra layer of protection by putting the Wag bag in a Doritos bag made of Mylar. This slows the smell down a bit and masks it somewhat with Doritos dust.

I’m not going to share the story about a guy I knew who missed the opening of the Wag bag and hit the outside with a particularly runny deposit. Not to mention it happened at Trail Camp on Mt. Whitney where it’s wide open like a moonscape and everyone can see you for 1/4 mile.

 
Portage99
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05/19/2022 09:02AM  
Banksiana: "MossBack: "
While we are discussing this subject. I would like to hear opinions on the so called "bio-degradable?" wiping material. Coleman BioWipes being just one example."



I was listening to a sewage engineer on the radio or a podcast who stated that "flushable or biodegradable wipes" are basically a lie- that they didn't break down in the course of treatment and were not suitable for sewer or septic (much less sitting in the ground)."


I have heard this also. I would not take them into the wilderness unless you planned to pack them out.
 
Chieflonewatie
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05/19/2022 09:51AM  
If I had to pack that shit out I would never go again.

 
missmolly
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05/20/2022 10:43AM  
Chieflonewatie: "If I had to pack that shit out I would never go again.


"


Whenever I paddle, I always pack some poop out. I keep it in my colon.
 
05/20/2022 11:16AM  
Boy, listening to all this talk and digesting it got me all pooped out.
 
flopnfolds
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05/20/2022 11:17AM  
Relevant for this conversation.

I do wonder the level of e-coli in the BWCA watershed. We all hope that the latrines are able to breakdown the poop and prevent the spread of any pathogens into the water. But is the breakdown actually happening or is it wish-cycling? It would be a good capstone project for some biology students! https://www.outsideonline.com/adventure-travel/destinations/north-america/sustainable-summer-adventures-colorado/
 
05/20/2022 11:23AM  
flopnfolds: "Relevant for this conversation.


I do wonder about the level of e-coli in the BWCA watershed. We all hope that the latrines can breakdown the poop and prevent the spread of any pathogens into the water. But is the breakdown happening or is it wish-cycling? It would be a good capstone project for some biology students! https://www.outsideonline.com/adventure-travel/destinations/north-america/sustainable-summer-adventures-colorado/ "


I think other concerns about protecting the BWCA exist. Saying that it is a concern when people don't dispose of the waste properly away from the shore. I have seen what I call vandalism of the BWCA where some weirdo decided to put toilet paper and poop around the edges of where you would stick the tent.

That is pure criminal and things like that cause changes in rules that need not be.
 
Zulu
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05/20/2022 11:48AM  
Did anyone ever fall for that prank where someone placed a paper Wag bag on your doorstep, lit it on fire then rang your doorbell? A persons instinct was to step on it to put it out thus getting poop on their shoe but most people just kicked it away!
The new Wag bags are nonflammable now.
 
05/23/2022 11:29AM  
tumblehome: "Thankfully the BWCA is not a park and is not regulated by the NPS.
Tom"


True. But the US Forest Service is increasingly requiring human waste to be packed out from some heavily-used wilderness areas (or parts of them) in alpine areas, such as the Cloud Peak Wilderness in Wyoming. In cold areas above timberline, deserts, or near heavily used sites the waste does not break down fast enough to keep up with the amount being deposited.

Few wilderness areas have latrines. In the BWCAW I doubt waste will be required to be packed out, because there are latrines, they are periodically replaced, and waste does break down.

Sites in the most heavily used parts of Quetico probably should have latrines...
 
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