Tuesday, April 5, 2011

On Fire

Building a minimum impact fire

At Leave No Trace we advocate for safe, responsible and minimum impact campfires. First, it’s important to know the rules and regulations of the area you are planning to visit. After learning if campfires are permitted, consider the following:

• Does building a fire make good sense at your picnic or campsite?
• What are the pertinent regulations and campfire management techniques for the area?
• Judge the wind, weather, location, and wood availability. Is it safe and responsible to build a campfire?
• Where there are no fire rings or grates, bring a fire pan or set aside time to build a mound fire.
• Have a trowel or small shovel and a container for saturating the ashes with water.

One method for a low impact campfire is called a mound fire. Challenge yourself to try this technique. You can even practice in your own backyard:

• Mound fires are built using sand, gravel, or on soil with a low organic content. Try to disturb as little vegetation as possible when collecting this material.
• Fill a bag (a sleeping bag stuff sack works well) with the soil and bring it to the appropriate campfire site (a clear flat surface away from vegetation or low hanging branches with access from all sides). This may require a few trips.
• Build a mound of dirt that is 6-8 inches thick and 18-24 inches in diameter on top of a tarp or ground cloth. This helps facilitate cleanup. The cloth can be rolled up under the edge of the mound to prevent embers from singeing it. A thick enough mound insulates the ground and the tarp or ground cloth from the heat of the fire.
• Use small dead twigs from the ground to build your fire on top of the mound.
• Be sure to return the soil to its source when the fire is completely out.

No comments: