Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Dear Education Department: Disposing of Waste Properly.

Dear Education Department,

I’m trying to figure out the best way to dispose of human waste on the lands I manage. Do you know of any good resources, research, methods or strategies that could be implemented in my area? I’d like a comprehensive overview of the best practices being used nationwide (and around the world) but I’m not sure that exist.

Any ideas?


District Ranger


Dear District Ranger,

If you’re looking for a one-stop shop for answering your questions around the subject of human waste disposal in the outdoors, you shouldn’t miss the upcoming conference, “Exit StrategiesManaging Human Waste in the Wild.”

Presented by The American Alpine Club at the American Mountaineering Center Golden, Colorado July 30-31 and August 1, 2010 - this conference is being sponsored in part by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics.

We invite top land managers, scientists, entrepreneurs, and wilderness participants from around the globe to discuss and formulate strategies for managing human waste in remote areas. The Exit Strategies conference will include general/plenary sessions, poster presentations, field-proven techniques and opportunities for focused problem solving. To create a productive setting in which participants can spark important conversations, explore innovative ideas, and develop effective solutions, the conference will be limited to 100 attendees.

Interested? Here’s some more information to help you get there:

Registration limited to first 90 to sign up. Fee $150 for both days and evening include:

  • Two lunches and one dinner
  • Flash Drive of visual documentation of all presentations, papers and addresses of all participants.
  • Special student fee of $25 for the first ten to sign up, support provided by "Leave No Trace"
  • Vendor fee $300, limited to 12 vendors
  • August 1st (8:00-4:00 PM Optional field trip hike to Gem Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. The Park Service will discuss their human waste pack out system for Lumpy Ridge and the Solar Drying toilet at Gem Lake. Moderate hike at 2.2 miles each way. Bus capacity of 50 will depart from the American Mountaineering Center. Register separately for this hike, cost: $35 including lunch.

Conference Benefits:

  • Knowledge: Share global expertise and assemble a working online database of the best practices for managing human waste in remote and alpine environments.
  • Case Studies: Publicize various case-studies that illustrate the complexities of, and potential solutions for, managing human waste in wilderness settings.
  • Connection: To provide links across the globe between the various entities critical to human waste management in wilderness settings.
  • Action: Generate actionable ideas and practical toolkits for managing human waste that can be disseminated to the broader public.

What people are saying:

"Human waste and how we deal with it in the outdoors is a significant issue and perhaps one of the most significant issues we grapple with at Leave No Trace. Improper disposal of human waste can drastically impact water sources, it can spread disease and it can be a substantial aesthetic and social impact. With more and more people enjoying the outdoors, whether they're on a day hike, an overnight camping trip or a month long expedition, we have to collectively work together to find realistic, effective and palatable solutions to this growing problem. This conference is a major step in the right direction towards solving the human waste dilemma." Ben Lawhon, Education Director, Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, Boulder, CO.

"As the world seems to be getting smaller,with more and more people setting out to explore remote natural areas, it is timely that we are bringing managers together to share common experiences & solutions for dealing with increasing challenge of ......'what do you do with the human waste?' As the leader for Wilderness Stewardship in the US National Parks, I look forward to creating a new standard for our visitors. No longer will it be the sole responsibility of the land managers to solve the human waste problem. Today's solution will be a combination of new technology, visitor responsibility, and manager's assistance." Garry Oye, Chief of Wilderness Stewardship, National Park Service, Washington, D.C.

"Bringing together experts from around the world to this conference will not only benefit the National Parks but will be a benefit to many agencies. Again, our program applauds and supports your efforts in putting this conference together." CAPT John Leffel, REHS, MPH, Public Health Consultant, US Public Health Service

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