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Leaving no trace

September 24, 2012
By GARRETT NEESE - DMG writer (gneese@mininggazette.com) , The Daily Mining Gazette

OSKAR?BAY - It's one of the enduring precepts of camping: Leave the site as you found it.

Over two days at the Marsin Nature Center, a group learned tools to help them better teach the concept to others.

Leave No Trace is concerned with outdoors ethics, said master educator Norm Petersen: "How to behave outside, how to interact with the environment and other people."

Article Photos

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette
Evan McDonald cooks a prepackaged dinner during a Leave No Trace class at the Marsin Nature Center near Oskar Bay Saturday. The class included lessons on traveling and camping on durable surfaces, waste disposal and minimizing campfire impacts.

The Leave No Trace class covered concepts such as campsite selection, waste disposal and minimizing campfire impacts over Saturday and Sunday.

Petersen said he's better able to get his messages to stick when he uses the class as props.

"It gets people up and moving and thinking about it," he said.

He put those principles into play with a discussion on the most durable camping surfaces. Petersen passed out samples of different substances - concrete, water, dry grass, flowers - and had the group line up in a semicircle, with the most durable of the group on the right.

Most of the lineup didn't budge from the initial sorting out. Some tweaks came in group discussion, and later when Petersen gave his order.

Water stayed as most durable throughout; however, Petersen bumped snow up to second, ahead of concrete and asphalt.

"Are we damaging the ground below it?" Petersen asked. "Not with an adequate snow cover."

Petersen then repeated the process, except this time factoring in suitability for camping. Paved surfaces took a hit.

After that, the class cooked dinners using portable burners (less disruptive than campfires). To further minimize waste, they used meal pouches into which water could be poured.

Greg Fox, another of the instructors, gave another small tip to people sitting by him: not tearing off the top of the bag completely, thereby avoiding another piece of trash.

A planned overnight camping session was canceled because of the poor weather conditions.

"We've got a lot of experienced campers here, so there's no point in getting cold and wet," Petersen said.

Rick Chischois is a sixth-grade English and science teacher at Chassell Township Schools. He signed up for the class as preparation for possibly taking part in a nature skills class the school is launching.

"For us, it's definitely good, helps us teach the youth, get them started young," he said.

Peter Hoch, a Boy Scout from Berkeley, Mich., said he's learned a lot of hands-on methods to communicate.

"I really found that I'm a better teacher because of this course," he said.

 
 

 

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