Illegal Fire Rings and Campsites
August 27, 2012
Near Tuolumne Meadows
Volunteers were busy in the high country this week on a wilderness restoration project near Tuolumne Meadows. The small crew was looking for illegal fire rings and campsites. In order to minimize the impact to park ecosystems and to be fair to the experiences of other wilderness users, backcountry campers are required to camp outside of the no camping zone and more than 100 feet away from trail or water. Since wood is scarce at high elevations and important to the other living things that live there, they also cannot build fire rings above 9,600 feet in elevation. When the restoration crew finds sites that violate these requirements, they remove the site so that future campers are not encouraged to use it. By carefully removing the stones and ash of a fire ring, and replacing it with dirt, gravel, duff, and other dead forest material, it is almost impossible to tell that there was ever a campsite there. These volunteers focused on areas close to the trailheads, but larger groups of restoration workers and volunteers work throughout the season in the backcountry of Yosemite to remove similar campsites.