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[at-l] SNP New Backcountry Camping Regulations...



Found this article in the Latest "The Register" newsletter from the ATC -

Shenandoah National Park Implements New Backcountry Camping Regulations

After several years of intensive park and public scrutiny and input,
Shenandoah
National Park has adopted new "user-friendly" backcountry regulations
officials
hope will be more effective. They have asked that backcountry campers help
preserve
the park's natural conditions by obeying the new regulations and using Leave
No
Trace practices.

Rather than being prohibited, as in the past, from using existing
backcountry
campsites, particularly those located out of sight of trails, campers are
now encour-
aged to use them. If an established campsite can't be located, camping in a
"pristine"
area is permitted, and Leave No Trace camping techniques are strongly
encouraged.

Campers are required to camp at least 20 yards from park trails and fire
roads. Most
other existing camping regulations will remain. Campsites now must be at
least 10
yards from streams or natural water sources; 100 yards from cabins,
shelters, huts, and
other facilities, unless they are at park-constructed, designated campsites
(at the A.T.
huts); and at least 50 yards from another camping party or "no camping" post
or sign.
Lastly, because park managers are concerned about campsite damage to
historical
cultural sites, campers are required to camp at least 50 yards from standing
building
ruins, such as old chimneys and house foundations.

In the past, distances were often expressed in terms of feet-camping 100
feet from
a trail, for instance. Now the park uses yards. Because a yard roughly
equals one long
stride, this measurement makes distances more practical for the average
hiker to
compute.

The regulations were developed with assistance from the School of Natural
Resources at Virginia Tech. They are based on proven scientific
backcountry-campsite
impact-management strategies and are designed to minimize damage to natural
conditions while simultaneously enhancing visitor freedom and satisfaction
in camp-
site selection and use. Regulations will be less strict along those park
trails that are
underutilized and more strict on popular backpacking trails, such as the
A.T.
Shenandoah National Park is a national leader in the Leave No Trace program
of
outdoor ethics and skills and has integrated LNT into its public-education
offerings
to help promote the most sensitive and practical backcountry use.

Backcountry camping permits still will be required for all backpackers. They
are
available by mail and at various park permit-issuing stations-but only
during
regular business hours, to discourage hikers from arriving late in the day.
It can be
difficult and dangerous to locate a legal campsite after dark. A.T. hikers
may continue
to self-register for permits on the A.T. near Chester Gap at the north and
Rockfish Gap
at the southern end of the park.

As part of the park's backcountry and wilderness management plan, the
backcountry
camping permit system is being upgraded and computerized to improve
information
collection and analysis. The National Park Service will use it, as well as
routine
monitoring and management, to mitigate new impacts as they arise. Those data
can
prove critical by highlighting problem areas where management can enhance
the
park's ability to limit the number of already impacted, usable sites and
avoid
proliferation of inappropriate sites in sensitive locations. New
park-constructed,
designated campsites are being installed at the heavily visited Appalachian
Trail
shelters, known as "huts" in the park, to accommodate the peak loads that
travel along
the A.T.

The park's new backcountry camping regulations are available on the Potomac
Appalachian Trail Club Web site at www.patc.net/snp_page.html and will soon
be
available on ATC's Web site www.appalachiantrail.org as well. Questions may
be
directed to the park's backcountry office at (540) 999-3189.


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