Monday, June 2, 2008

Naturist's Should Be Stewards of Our Public Lands

From the Desk of BangedUpShins
(Troublesome Creek Campgrounds in this case)

We take the beauty of our natural public lands for granted much of the time . . . expecting it always to be pristine, clean and ecologically-sound. We go into the wilderness looking for the natural and a soul-cleansing. We often go to get away from the noise, grime and litter of civilization. But more often than not we come upon piles of trash, illegal dumping and the detritus of lazy humans who couldn't care in the least . . . who rarely go into the forests and consider dumping a load of garbage off the side of a remote forest service road a minor thing . . . they'll never see it again.

Likewise, easily-accessible campgrounds and trails have become the partying sites for weekend beer-busts by non-thinking people who see nothing wrong with leaving their trash behind. After all, who's watching? Our mountains and forests are becoming dumping grounds.

The mess at Trout Creek is a minor example. Here, there is a rutted, dirt spur road just off the Index-Galena Road that leads to the creek on the east side of the bridge. There is some wonderful lush, rain-forest style hiking just beyond. Completely hidden from the road, the large clearing here has become a favored nighttime party site, seeing gatherings of groups with cases of beer arriving in off-road 4-wheelers, boomboxes and building monumental bonfires. While I don't begrudge people having a good time . . . I do resent them leaving their mess behind to ruin the experience for others. I barely made a dent in this mess, dragging 10 large trash sacks of garbage and a few tires and batteries back down to the entrance on the Index-Galena Road for later pickup by the Forest Service.

I do this on and off at a number of sites, always carrying a box of trash bags and sometimes a few tools (rake, shovel, gloves, etc.) in the trunk of my car for just such circumstances. It's not hard work . . . it's not rocket science but it certainly leaves the place looking better when I'm done. I often do it nude as I'm constantly exploring for new campsites during the off-times.

I met a ranger once as I was hauling a fourth or fifth large sack of garbage out to a likely pickup point. The ranger had just happened to drive by the rustic campsite entrance (on the Rapid River) and spotted the previous sacks. He pulled in to investigate and found me waddling backward dragging a heavy trash bag in tow (nah, I wasn't naked for other, more practical reasons). Nevertheless, the ranger was happy. Trashing a site and illegal dumping is a huge problem for the Forest Service and is often the cited reason campsites get closed down. Now, whenever I do some major cleanup of a site, I notify the nearest Ranger Station afterward. They are grateful and somewhat surprised that someone cares. The sacks are always picked up by the next time I happen to be in the area.

A number of years ago I explored an unlikely looking trail off the Beckler River Road and came across a 'hunter's' campsite in a tiny clearing. Nothing much to excite me (too boggy and bug-laden in high summer for naked people), but a campsite just the same. Shotgun casings, blown-up trees, beer bottles and the rotting cardboard cases they came in. It could have used a good litter patrol but I wasn't in the mood at the time.

On the way out I happened to notice a sign stapled to a tree. The sign reads (in part):

Trash Recently Removed From
This Area by
Friends of the Trail
Please Keep It Clean

Friends of the Trail ( is a low-traffic site however, they seem to have been making an impact by doing cleanup work at various public lands sites. I agree with their goals and it got me to thinking that we, as naturists . . . should also be naturalists and be stewards for our public lands. Everyone knows of the gratitude SOLV extends to nudists who organize or participate in Down By The River events (clothed or unclothed), Adopt a Highway programs, and the semi-annual Rooster Rock State Park cleanups. We engender a lot of good will towards the responsibility and good-citizenship of the nudist community at large . . . giving us wider acceptance and welcome.

A cleaned up and raked campsite
preserving a place to enjoy nature

But good stewardship can also operate at the smaller, personal level as well. Why not, as a club or a group of friends, plan an impromptu cleanup and let the responsible government agency (Forest Service, etc.) know that such and such a club . . . nudists, took it upon themselves to clean up the mess left by others. I think that agency would be predisposed to look upon nudists in a more favorable light. One side benefit is that a lot of sites where litter is a problem (because they are secluded from roads) are also sites where a cleanup party could be done nude. Think about it. Looking for events to plan . . . here's one that does us all good! And we could even post our own little notes (with the grace of the powers-that-be) stating who cleaned up the area and how to learn more about environmentally-conscious nudism.

I visit to experience the Barred Owls (a relative of the Spotted Owl),
not in garbage dumps but in their natural environment

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