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Small fires in the wilderness

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  • Larry Beck
    I realize fires of any kind are forbidden this year due to fire danger but I have heard that many purists believe fires should be restricted all of the time.
    Message 1 of 17 , Sep 8, 2013
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      I realize fires of any kind are forbidden this year due to fire danger but I have heard that many purists believe fires should be restricted all of the time. If anyone has an opinion on this, I'd be interested in hearing why? (or why not?)
       
      I have made fires in the past... fires I jokingly like to call "little Indian fires". A little Indian fire is a fire created in a small hole using branches of 1/2 inch in diameter of less. I usually collect enough fuel to keep the fire going for about 1/2 hour or so. It's amazing how much warmth and cheer a 6 inch diameter fire will generate. When it burns out, I pour about 3 gallons of water on it, mix it up, and then bury it. This would normally be built in an existing fire ring of course.
       
      Fire is a normal, healthy process in the wilderness as we all know. Most forest fires are caused by natural phenomenon in fact. (Sadly, not the Rim fire though)
       
      Opinions?
    • cjoslyn99
      I don t think it s the risk of fire spreading but consuming the wood, etc. esp. at higher elevations where you re taking away a limited resource. Regrowth at
      Message 2 of 17 , Sep 8, 2013
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        I don't think it's the risk of fire spreading but consuming the wood, etc. esp. at higher elevations where you're taking away a limited resource.  Regrowth at higher elevations is extremely slow and the soil is low in nutrients. Removing this wood from the system further slows growth  http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/wildregs.htm



        --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, <johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com> wrote:

        I realize fires of any kind are forbidden this year due to fire danger but I have heard that many purists believe fires should be restricted all of the time. If anyone has an opinion on this, I'd be interested in hearing why? (or why not?)
         
        I have made fires in the past... fires I jokingly like to call "little Indian fires". A little Indian fire is a fire created in a small hole using branches of 1/2 inch in diameter of less. I usually collect enough fuel to keep the fire going for about 1/2 hour or so. It's amazing how much warmth and cheer a 6 inch diameter fire will generate. When it burns out, I pour about 3 gallons of water on it, mix it up, and then bury it. This would normally be built in an existing fire ring of course.
         
        Fire is a normal, healthy process in the wilderness as we all know. Most forest fires are caused by natural phenomenon in fact. (Sadly, not the Rim fire though)
         
        Opinions?
      • Mike Mosack
        Hi Larry, Just curious - are you limiting the question to just the JMT or wilderness in general? I ask because I feel there could be a difference in population
        Message 3 of 17 , Sep 8, 2013
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          Hi Larry,
          Just curious - are you limiting the question to just the JMT or wilderness in general? I ask because I feel there could be a difference in population visiting, available resources, services, etc. and some might really be off the grid or near a high-traveled trail.
          I am one that prefers to take a stove whenever possible and I usually do not build a campfire of any size. I’m not opposed to them, I just like stoves. I’ve certainly have had campfires and love them for the warmth, genuine good feelings felt, cooking, camaraderie at the end of a day, etc. Admittedly, I’ve not had one on the JMT/Yosemite area. If we exclude areas where laws prohibit them and natural environments where they are dangerous or resources scarce, then I think they are a valid and nice option for some.
           
          I too, except for the bonfire in the desert, am like you in that if I build a campfire, I keep them small and use small diameter sticks when I can. I’ve been to areas however, where the available downed wood has been collected and the only fuel available (other than grasses) are the remnants of barkless, branchless, tree trunks. I wouldn’t want to start a fire in those (whole) for fear that I might miss getting it completely out and leave a smoldering ember somewhere in the log. 
           
          As you say, fire is a natural healthy process in the wilderness, but in the case of these small (Indian) campfires, I think they really do not have any impact in the overall health of the wilderness.
          Mike
           
          Sent: Sunday, September 08, 2013 5:48 PM
          Subject: [John Muir Trail] Small fires in the wilderness
           

          I realize fires of any kind are forbidden this year due to fire danger but I have heard that many purists believe fires should be restricted all of the time. If anyone has an opinion on this, I'd be interested in hearing why? (or why not?)
        • kennethjessett@sbcglobal.net
          The weather has changed, the days when one could light fires in wilderness areas with impunity have gone. I remember as a boy scout we would use brush or
          Message 4 of 17 , Sep 9, 2013
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            The weather has changed, the days when one could light fires in wilderness areas with impunity have gone. I remember as a boy scout we would use brush or whatever came to hand to start a camp fire, but we had strict guidelines on how and where to do it and were well supervised in the doing of it. And it rained a lot.

            The Rim fire was caused by a camp fire which 'got away' from the hunter, causing untold damage and many deaths among the animals that made the forest their home.

            The air is dryer and hotter these days and the ground tinder dry, there are other means available to us now-a-days to cook meals, and burning up the forest shouldn't be one of them.

            The days of playing at being an outdoors man or wilderness survivor using only the natural materials available have gone. It's like walking across a newly built freeway because there used to be a field there, not a wise thing to do.

            We should try to be good protectors of our natural resources, to enjoy without endangering so that others can do likewise.

            Ken.
          • Mark Liechty
            ... There will be a lot of politics around the cause of this fire. The theory that it was a Hunter is one but they have not found this mystery villain. For
            Message 5 of 17 , Sep 9, 2013
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              On Sep 9, 2013, at 6:37 AM, "kennethjessett@..." <kenjessett@...> wrote:

              The Rim fire was caused by a camp fire which 'got away' from the hunter, causing untold damage and many deaths among the animals that made the forest their home.
              ########


              There will be a lot of politics around the cause of this fire.   The theory that it was a Hunter is one but they have not found this mystery villain.  For all we know this entire mess was caused by the anti-gun lobby. (I don't buy that either)

              As best we can tell there is no active firearm hunting season in that area at this time.  That would make the person who did this a POACHER.  A Criminal who should be taken to the streets and beaten to death.

              Calling the Poacher a hunter is the same as calling anyone who has ever had intercourse a RAPIST.  The act is the same,  one is Legal the other a crime.  If you are not OK with calling your father, yourself or your friends rapists then please do not lump hunters in with Poachers.

              Words matter in this political environment and we all have some responsibility to try to stop the madness.



            • rwilly001
              Funny how this wasn t a political discussion until you -- in your indignation about things getting politicized -- turned it into one. The rest of us are
              Message 6 of 17 , Sep 9, 2013
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                Funny how this wasn't a political discussion until you -- in your indignation about things getting politicized -- turned it into one. The rest of us are looking for news, but we all know where that comes from . . .



                --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, <johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com> wrote:

                On Sep 9, 2013, at 6:37 AM, "kennethjessett@..." <kenjessett@...> wrote:

                The Rim fire was caused by a camp fire which 'got away' from the hunter, causing untold damage and many deaths among the animals that made the forest their home.
                ########


                There will be a lot of politics around the cause of this fire.   The theory that it was a Hunter is one but they have not found this mystery villain.  For all we know this entire mess was caused by the anti-gun lobby. (I don't buy that either)

                As best we can tell there is no active firearm hunting season in that area at this time.  That would make the person who did this a POACHER.  A Criminal who should be taken to the streets and beaten to death.

                Calling the Poacher a hunter is the same as calling anyone who has ever had intercourse a RAPIST.  The act is the same,  one is Legal the other a crime.  If you are not OK with calling your father, yourself or your friends rapists then please do not lump hunters in with Poachers.

                Words matter in this political environment and we all have some responsibility to try to stop the madness.



              • Dittli-Goethals
                Woah big fella. That post didn t read like anti-gun or anti-hunter to me, in fact it didn t say anything about guns. It was stating facts as reported by the
                Message 7 of 17 , Sep 9, 2013
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                  Woah big fella. That post didn't read like anti-gun or anti-hunter to me, in fact it didn't say anything about guns. It was stating "facts" as reported by the media. From my understanding archery season was open, and that is still hunting! It could have just as well been started by a xc hiker. No politics, just a sad start to a big fire!

                  JD


                  On Mon, Sep 9, 2013 at 9:32 AM, <rwilly001@...> wrote:
                   

                  Funny how this wasn't a political discussion until you -- in your indignation about things getting politicized -- turned it into one. The rest of us are looking for news, but we all know where that comes from . . .



                  --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, <johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com> wrote:

                  On Sep 9, 2013, at 6:37 AM, "kennethjessett@..." <kenjessett@...> wrote:

                  The Rim fire was caused by a camp fire which 'got away' from the hunter, causing untold damage and many deaths among the animals that made the forest their home.
                  ########


                  There will be a lot of politics around the cause of this fire.   The theory that it was a Hunter is one but they have not found this mystery villain.  For all we know this entire mess was caused by the anti-gun lobby. (I don't buy that either)

                  As best we can tell there is no active firearm hunting season in that area at this time.  That would make the person who did this a POACHER.  A Criminal who should be taken to the streets and beaten to death.

                  Calling the Poacher a hunter is the same as calling anyone who has ever had intercourse a RAPIST.  The act is the same,  one is Legal the other a crime.  If you are not OK with calling your father, yourself or your friends rapists then please do not lump hunters in with Poachers.

                  Words matter in this political environment and we all have some responsibility to try to stop the madness.






                  --
                  John Dittli/Leslie Goethals
                  John Dittli Photography
                  www.johndittli.com
                  760-934-3505 

                  Walk the Sky: Following the John Muir Trail
                  2010  IPPY Gold Medal Award Winner
                • casey
                  I believe if you check your calender you will find it was opening weekend of deer season for bow hunting. Also squirrel season was open. As I understand the
                  Message 8 of 17 , Sep 9, 2013
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                    I believe if you check your calender you will find it was opening weekend of deer season for bow hunting. Also squirrel season was open.

                    As I understand the local press releases, the hunter was identified and interviewed by authorities about two days after the fire began. The investigation is still open. It was the fire chief of Twain Harte that made the statement that it was an illegal marijuana grow without any evidence and while the investigation was still ongoing.

                    Why the person has not been identified and charged or at least cited for an illegal campfire no one quite understands.
                  • shawn peterson
                    Ill informed and wild analogies. Bow season opened in many parts of the sierra s and hunters were all over the JMT area near MTR etc the week of August 19th.
                    Message 9 of 17 , Sep 9, 2013
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                      Ill informed and wild analogies.

                      Bow season opened in many parts of the sierra's and hunters' were all over the JMT area near MTR etc the week of August 19th.  Thus hunters were active in the fire area too....if words matter so much to you try to use appropriate language and non inflammatory statements to get your point across.  Furthermore, if dragging someone in the streets and beating them to death equates justice, then lets start cutting off the fingers of the backpackers that used alcohol stoves in regulated areas too this year....



                      From: "rwilly001@..." <rwilly001@...>
                      To: johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com
                      Sent: Monday, September 9, 2013 9:32 AM
                      Subject: RE: Re: [John Muir Trail] Re: Small fires in the wilderness

                       
                      Funny how this wasn't a political discussion until you -- in your indignation about things getting politicized -- turned it into one. The rest of us are looking for news, but we all know where that comes from . . .


                      --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, <johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com> wrote:

                      On Sep 9, 2013, at 6:37 AM, "kennethjessett@..." <kenjessett@...> wrote:
                      The Rim fire was caused by a camp fire which 'got away' from the hunter, causing untold damage and many deaths among the animals that made the forest their home.
                      ########

                      There will be a lot of politics around the cause of this fire.   The theory that it was a Hunter is one but they have not found this mystery villain.  For all we know this entire mess was caused by the anti-gun lobby. (I don't buy that either)

                      As best we can tell there is no active firearm hunting season in that area at this time.  That would make the person who did this a POACHER.  A Criminal who should be taken to the streets and beaten to death.

                      Calling the Poacher a hunter is the same as calling anyone who has ever had intercourse a RAPIST.  The act is the same,  one is Legal the other a crime.  If you are not OK with calling your father, yourself or your friends rapists then please do not lump hunters in with Poachers.

                      Words matter in this political environment and we all have some responsibility to try to stop the madness.





                    • John
                      In regards to why the identified person has not been charged or at least cited yet, here s something to ponder: As stated in a previous email and I m sure
                      Message 10 of 17 , Sep 9, 2013
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                        In regards to why the identified person has not been charged or at least cited yet, here's something to ponder:

                        As stated in a previous email and I'm sure multiple press releases, this is still an open and on-going investigation.  If the person who started the fire was prematurely cited for the illegal fire and he/she immediately pled guilty to that lesser charge (infraction or misdemeanor perhaps), case law might prohibit the prosecuting agency from pursuing greater (felony)  charges in the future should more criminal culpability be discovered during the follow-up investigation.   

                        This is most commonly referred to as "double jeopardy", where absent special circumstances, one cannot stand trial for the same "crime" twice.  If he/she were to plead guilty in the original citation, it would most likely close and lock the prosecutor's door.

                        Be patient...

                        Thank you and I'll step down from my soapbox now so as not to fuel this tangent discussion any further than it needs to go ;)

                        John M.

                         
                        On Sep 9, 2013, at 11:23 AM, casey wrote:

                         



                        I believe if you check your calender you will find it was opening weekend of deer season for bow hunting. Also squirrel season was open.

                        As I understand the local press releases, the hunter was identified and interviewed by authorities about two days after the fire began. The investigation is still open. It was the fire chief of Twain Harte that made the statement that it was an illegal marijuana grow without any evidence and while the investigation was still ongoing.

                        Why the person has not been identified and charged or at least cited for an illegal campfire no one quite understands.


                      • gkahn21
                        I don t think you can frame this conversation in the context of small campfires. You can either allow campfires or ban them. A regulation to allow only small
                        Message 11 of 17 , Sep 9, 2013
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                          I don't think you can frame this conversation in the context of small campfires. You can either allow campfires or ban them. A regulation to allow only 'small' campfires would be impossible to enforce as everyone's definition of 'small' would vary widely. In the larger sense, while what 'you' may do is very low impact, you are not the only one out there. In other words, you can’t only include the lowest impact users, you have to include high impacts users as well.


                          Second, while fire is a natural process in wilderness, campfires are not. Campfires are localized typically in a small oval made up of rocks with many repeated fires in them. This is far different than natural fires. Some of the impacts of campfires are: "Fire site proliferation; overbuilt fire sites and associated seating arrangements; fuel wood depletion; sterilized soils; charred rocks and tree roots; ash and charcoal buildup; semimelted plastic, glass and metal trash; chemical contamination of soils; unburned food, which attracts wildlife; tree damage and felling; and vegetation trampling associated with firewood collection" Source: Reid, S. E., & Marion, J. L. (2005). A comparison of campfire impacts and policies in seven protected areas. Environmental Management, 36(1), 48-58. (with the quoted text referencing many other papers)


                          As for a discussion as to should they be allowed, I would concentrate on necessity and impacts. Since the advent of portable gas stoves in the 1960’s, the vast majority of backpackers now do not use a campfire for cooking their food and mainly have campfires for ambiance and experiential purposes. Obviously the desire to have campfires is still strong, but for different reasons than in the past. As for impacts, campfires have many direct and indirect impacts, as noted above.


                          People love having fires in the backcountry but they create many impacts. Obviously we allow activities in wilderness that create impacts, like backpacking on the JMT that we love so we can’t just ban everything that isn’t necessary, but that has to be balanced out by the impacts they create.



                          --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, <johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com> wrote:

                          Hi Larry,
                          Just curious - are you limiting the question to just the JMT or wilderness in general? I ask because I feel there could be a difference in population visiting, available resources, services, etc. and some might really be off the grid or near a high-traveled trail.
                          I am one that prefers to take a stove whenever possible and I usually do not build a campfire of any size. I’m not opposed to them, I just like stoves. I’ve certainly have had campfires and love them for the warmth, genuine good feelings felt, cooking, camaraderie at the end of a day, etc. Admittedly, I’ve not had one on the JMT/Yosemite area. If we exclude areas where laws prohibit them and natural environments where they are dangerous or resources scarce, then I think they are a valid and nice option for some.
                           
                          I too, except for the bonfire in the desert, am like you in that if I build a campfire, I keep them small and use small diameter sticks when I can. I’ve been to areas however, where the available downed wood has been collected and the only fuel available (other than grasses) are the remnants of barkless, branchless, tree trunks. I wouldn’t want to start a fire in those (whole) for fear that I might miss getting it completely out and leave a smoldering ember somewhere in the log. 
                           
                          As you say, fire is a natural healthy process in the wilderness, but in the case of these small (Indian) campfires, I think they really do not have any impact in the overall health of the wilderness.
                          Mike
                           
                          Sent: Sunday, September 08, 2013 5:48 PM
                          Subject: [John Muir Trail] Small fires in the wilderness
                           

                          I realize fires of any kind are forbidden this year due to fire danger but I have heard that many purists believe fires should be restricted all of the time. If anyone has an opinion on this, I'd be interested in hearing why? (or why not?)
                        • Larry Beck
                          Finally, someone who stuck to the topic! Well said gkahn21! Larry ________________________________ From: gkahn21 To:
                          Message 12 of 17 , Sep 9, 2013
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                            Finally, someone who stuck to the topic! Well said gkahn21!
                             
                            Larry
                            From: gkahn21 <no_reply@yahoogroups.com>
                            To: johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com
                            Sent: Monday, September 9, 2013 2:50 PM
                            Subject: [John Muir Trail] RE: Re: Small fires in the wilderness
                             
                            I don't think you can frame this conversation in the context of small campfires. You can either allow campfires or ban them. A regulation to allow only 'small' campfires would be impossible to enforce as everyone's definition of 'small' would vary widely. In the larger sense, while what 'you' may do is very low impact, you are not the only one out there. In other words, you can’t only include the lowest impact users, you have to include high impacts users as well.

                            Second, while fire is a natural process in wilderness, campfires are not. Campfires are localized typically in a small oval made up of rocks with many repeated fires in them. This is far different than natural fires. Some of the impacts of campfires are: "Fire site proliferation; overbuilt fire sites and associated seating arrangements; fuel wood depletion; sterilized soils; charred rocks and tree roots; ash and charcoal buildup; semimelted plastic, glass and metal trash; chemical contamination of soils; unburned food, which attracts wildlife; tree damage and felling; and vegetation trampling associated with firewood collection" Source: Reid, S. E., & Marion, J. L. (2005). A comparison of campfire impacts and policies in seven protected areas. Environmental Management, 36(1), 48-58. (with the quoted text referencing many other papers)

                            As for a discussion as to should they be allowed, I would concentrate on necessity and impacts. Since the advent of portable gas stoves in the 1960’s, the vast majority of backpackers now do not use a campfire for cooking their food and mainly have campfires for ambiance and experiential purposes. Obviously the desire to have campfires is still strong, but for different reasons than in the past. As for impacts, campfires have many direct and indirect impacts, as noted above.

                            People love having fires in the backcountry but they create many impacts. Obviously we allow activities in wilderness that create impacts, like backpacking on the JMT that we love so we can’t just ban everything that isn’t necessary, but that has to be balanced out by the impacts they create.
                            --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, <johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
                            Hi Larry,
                            Just curious - are you limiting the question to just the JMT or wilderness in general? I ask because I feel there could be a difference in population visiting, available resources, services, etc. and some might really be off the grid or near a high-traveled trail.
                            I am one that prefers to take a stove whenever possible and I usually do not build a campfire of any size. Iâm not opposed to them, I just like stoves. Iâve certainly have had campfires and love them for the warmth, genuine good feelings felt, cooking, camaraderie at the end of a day, etc. Admittedly, Iâve not had one on the JMT/Yosemite area. If we exclude areas where laws prohibit them and natural environments where they are dangerous or resources scarce, then I think they are a valid and nice option for some.
                             
                            I too, except for the bonfire in the desert, am like you in that if I build a campfire, I keep them small and use small diameter sticks when I can. Iâve been to areas however, where the available downed wood has been collected and the only fuel available (other than grasses) are the remnants of barkless, branchless, tree trunks. I wouldnât want to start a fire in those (whole) for fear that I might miss getting it completely out and leave a smoldering ember somewhere in the log. 
                             
                            As you say, fire is a natural healthy process in the wilderness, but in the case of these small (Indian) campfires, I think they really do not have any impact in the overall health of the wilderness.
                            Mike
                             
                            Sent: Sunday, September 08, 2013 5:48 PM
                            Subject: [John Muir Trail] Small fires in the wilderness
                             
                            I realize fires of any kind are forbidden this year due to fire danger but I have heard that many purists believe fires should be restricted all of the time. If anyone has an opinion on this, I'd be interested in hearing why? (or why not?)
                          • Mike Mosack
                            I believe his intent was to describe what he calls an Indian Campfire and not the more common style campfires associated with repeated sites being used almost
                            Message 13 of 17 , Sep 9, 2013
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                              I believe his intent was to describe what he calls an Indian Campfire and not the more common style campfires associated with repeated sites being used almost constantly in public/popular campsites. A small fire in a well positioned and remote hole – while it does have an impact – is vastly minimal to that of a standard campfire ring used over and over and is routinely burning for hours at a time and is well described by gkahn21 below. A small fire for a short time in an isolated area is, to me, not on the same level. I agree with virtually everything else described however.
                              Mike
                               
                              Sent: Monday, September 09, 2013 9:41 PM
                              Subject: Re: [John Muir Trail] RE: Re: Small fires in the wilderness
                               
                               

                              Finally, someone who stuck to the topic! Well said gkahn21!
                               
                              Larry
                              From: gkahn21 <no_reply@yahoogroups.com>
                              To: johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com
                              Sent: Monday, September 9, 2013 2:50 PM
                              Subject: [John Muir Trail] RE: Re: Small fires in the wilderness
                               
                              I don't think you can frame this conversation in the context of small campfires. You can either allow campfires or ban them. A regulation to allow only 'small' campfires would be impossible to enforce as everyone's definition of 'small' would vary widely. In the larger sense, while what 'you' may do is very low impact, you are not the only one out there. In other words, you can’t only include the lowest impact users, you have to include high impacts users as well.
                               
                              Second, while fire is a natural process in wilderness, campfires are not. Campfires are localized typically in a small oval made up of rocks with many repeated fires in them. This is far different than natural fires. Some of the impacts of campfires are: "Fire site proliferation; overbuilt fire sites and associated seating arrangements; fuel wood depletion; sterilized soils; charred rocks and tree roots; ash and charcoal buildup; semimelted plastic, glass and metal trash; chemical contamination of soils; unburned food, which attracts wildlife; tree damage and felling; and vegetation trampling associated with firewood collection" Source: Reid, S. E., & Marion, J. L. (2005). A comparison of campfire impacts and policies in seven protected areas. Environmental Management, 36(1), 48-58. (with the quoted text referencing many other papers)

                              As for a discussion as to should they be allowed, I would concentrate on necessity and impacts. Since the advent of portable gas stoves in the 1960’s, the vast majority of backpackers now do not use a campfire for cooking their food and mainly have campfires for ambiance and experiential purposes. Obviously the desire to have campfires is still strong, but for different reasons than in the past. As for impacts, campfires have many direct and indirect impacts, as noted above.

                              People love having fires in the backcountry but they create many impacts. Obviously we allow activities in wilderness that create impacts, like backpacking on the JMT that we love so we can’t just ban everything that isn’t necessary, but that has to be balanced out by the impacts they create.
                              --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, <johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
                            • Larry Beck
                              That s exactly the correct description of a Little Indian Campfire. I also think it s important to not leave any trace though so the next person coming along
                              Message 14 of 17 , Sep 11, 2013
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                                That's exactly the correct description of a Little Indian Campfire. I also think it's important to not leave any trace though so the next person coming along will not think of it as a regular campfire spot. Of course the ranger's do say to confine fires to existing fire rings though.
                                 
                                Given those parameters, I can't see how a little fire of this type would have any significant impact. Does collecting the small, dead wood have a negative impact though?
                                 
                                From: Mike Mosack <mosack@...>
                                To: johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com
                                Sent: Monday, September 9, 2013 11:38 PM
                                Subject: Re: [John Muir Trail] RE: Re: Small fires in the wilderness
                                 
                                I believe his intent was to describe what he calls an Indian Campfire and not the more common style campfires associated with repeated sites being used almost constantly in public/popular campsites. A small fire in a well positioned and remote hole – while it does have an impact – is vastly minimal to that of a standard campfire ring used over and over and is routinely burning for hours at a time and is well described by gkahn21 below. A small fire for a short time in an isolated area is, to me, not on the same level. I agree with virtually everything else described however.
                                Mike
                                 
                                Sent: Monday, September 09, 2013 9:41 PM
                                Subject: Re: [John Muir Trail] RE: Re: Small fires in the wilderness
                                 
                                 
                                Finally, someone who stuck to the topic! Well said gkahn21!
                                 
                                Larry
                                From: gkahn21 <no_reply@yahoogroups.com>
                                To: johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com
                                Sent: Monday, September 9, 2013 2:50 PM
                                Subject: [John Muir Trail] RE: Re: Small fires in the wilderness
                                 
                                I don't think you can frame this conversation in the context of small campfires. You can either allow campfires or ban them. A regulation to allow only 'small' campfires would be impossible to enforce as everyone's definition of 'small' would vary widely. In the larger sense, while what 'you' may do is very low impact, you are not the only one out there. In other words, you can’t only include the lowest impact users, you have to include high impacts users as well.
                                 
                                Second, while fire is a natural process in wilderness, campfires are not. Campfires are localized typically in a small oval made up of rocks with many repeated fires in them. This is far different than natural fires. Some of the impacts of campfires are: "Fire site proliferation; overbuilt fire sites and associated seating arrangements; fuel wood depletion; sterilized soils; charred rocks and tree roots; ash and charcoal buildup; semimelted plastic, glass and metal trash; chemical contamination of soils; unburned food, which attracts wildlife; tree damage and felling; and vegetation trampling associated with firewood collection" Source: Reid, S. E., & Marion, J. L. (2005). A comparison of campfire impacts and policies in seven protected areas. Environmental Management, 36(1), 48-58. (with the quoted text referencing many other papers)

                                As for a discussion as to should they be allowed, I would concentrate on necessity and impacts. Since the advent of portable gas stoves in the 1960’s, the vast majority of backpackers now do not use a campfire for cooking their food and mainly have campfires for ambiance and experiential purposes. Obviously the desire to have campfires is still strong, but for different reasons than in the past. As for impacts, campfires have many direct and indirect impacts, as noted above.

                                People love having fires in the backcountry but they create many impacts. Obviously we allow activities in wilderness that create impacts, like backpacking on the JMT that we love so we can’t just ban everything that isn’t necessary, but that has to be balanced out by the impacts they create.
                                --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, <johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
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