Re: SCOUTS-L Digest - 14 Nov 1995 to 15 Nov 1995
Jim Smith UT (jsmith@SAREK.OSMRE.GOV)
Thu, 16 Nov 1995 07:56:05 -0700
> OK, I can understand all the concern by enviromentalists about fire rings and
> killing the soil and all that but "dispose of the ashes"? I seem to remember
> a few years ago when one of the National Parks was burning that there was a
> lot of discussion regarding letting the fires burn because a) the fores
> burned off the old scrub and allowed new growth and b) the ash added
> nutrients to the soil.
These are valid points. The biggest problems with building new fire rings are
the baking of the ground so nothing grows for centuries, the compaction of
the ground around the firepit with its resulting loss of vegetation, the
concentration of human activity in a previously undisturbed area (animals
disturbed, trees damaged or destroyed, etc. all the things we're trying to
teach Scouts NOT to do but that happen anyway), and the permanent soot and
discoloration of the rocks. Benefits from nutrients in the ashes from one
campfire would be insignificant. By the time enough ashes from enough
campfires were scattered to have any real benefit, they would be very
visible unless care were taken every time to assure there was really nothing
but fine ash, that is no charcoal, partially burnt wood etc. and the ashes
were very evenly scattered.
As an additional thought, when you camp you probably think "forest". Consider
desert, wild river, seashore, in other words non-forest environments and
what the best method would be in each case. Teach a Scout one "Leave No
Trace" concept that will apply in all environments.
Judgement is the key of course, one of the qualities that we as adults have
and are trying to pass on to the Scouts. In a developed campsite disposal
should be a trivial matter with disposal containers supplied and firepits
requiring regular cleaning. In true wilderness that receives light use a
small amount of ashes (no charcoal, etc.) scattered over a large area would
have minimal impact and leave little if any trace. Most campsites I have used
with Scouts fall in between, with moderate to heavy use (even in "wilderness
areas") but no one to clean up except the Scouts (you can almost
bet there have been OTHER users that haven't cleaned up after themselves!)
and no trash disposal service or containers.
> Now if the ash adds nutrients to the soil, shouldn't we spread the ash around
> over the forest floor rather then carry it home in a plactic garbage bag
> where it will sit in some landfill for 2000 years or so. Can somebody
> clarify this, it sounds like environmental extremism to me. But, I may be
> wrong!!! It's happened before.
An additional possible benefit, wildfire prevention: I have arrived home
with a bucket of "cold" ashes that had warmed up considerably. Of course they
were concentrated in a bucket rather than scattered, but under the wrong
conditions one overlooked coal in scattered "cold" ashes could create a BIG
PS. You probably have seen the following message
> Date: Wed, 15 Nov 1995 13:07:26 -0600
> From: golden cliff <c60clg1@CORN.CSO.NIU.EDU>
> Subject: Re: Exploding Rocks
> On Wed, 15 Nov 1995, Jim Miller Sr. wrote:
> > Now if the ash adds nutrients to the soil, shouldn't we spread the ash aroun
> > over the forest floor rather then carry it home in a plactic garbage bag
> > where it will sit in some landfill for 2000 years or so. Can somebody
> > clarify this, it sounds like environmental extremism to me. But, I may be
> > wrong!!! It's happened before.
> > YIS
> > JJMSr
> Philmont practices spreading the ashes from the fire over the forest
> floor. But first a Scout searches through the thoroughly extinguished
> campfire with his bare hands to make sure it is totally out.
> The only danger of spreading the ashes it to make sure they are cold.
> YIS, Cliff Golden DeKalb, Illinois
> Scoutmaster Troop 33 email@example.com
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City