Backcountry Etiquette

North Frontenac Parklands are a marvel of natural beauty and home to a wide variety of vegetation and wildlife species. Here are a few “common sense” rules of backcountry etiquette that will help ensure that nature’s fragile balance is maintained for all visitors to enjoy.

Show Respect for Nature and the Wildlife

Let the sounds of nature prevail and avoid making loud noises. Always observe the wildlife from a distance and avoid approaching,  following or feeding the animals. When hiking or biking, stay on the trails and avoid stepping on plants. Learn about wildlife through quiet observation.

Quick movements and loud noises are stressful to animals. Travel quietly and do not pursue, feed or force animals to flee. (One exception is in bear country where it is good to make a little noise so as not to startle the bears) In hot or cold weather, disturbance can affect an animals ability to withstand the rigorous environment. Do not touch, get close to, feed or pick up wild animals. It is stressful to the animal, and it is possible that the animal may harbor rabies or other diseases. Sick or wounded animals can bite, peck or scratch and send you to the hospital. Young animals removed or touched by well-meaning people may cause the animals parents to abandon them. If you find sick animals or animal in trouble, notify park staff.

The Campsite

Before pitching your tent,  look for a location that will result in the minimal damage to plant life and that can be restored to its original condition when you leave. Always check for garbage left behind and make sure you pack out everything you brought with you to the campsite.

Fires

Most campsites are equipped with stone fire rings, which help to minimize the impact of campfires on the immediate environment.  Building a fire anywhere else on the campsite is not permitted. Never leave a fire unattended and always keep a supply of water nearby, just in case. Before leaving the campsite, make sure the fire is fully extinguished.

Pit Privies (Thuderbox) and Cat Holes

If your campsite has a pit privy, by all means use it. A pit privy is designed to contain human waste in as small an area as possible and to prevent the spreading of disease. If a pit privy is not located on or near your campsite, a “cat hole” is an easy solution for safe disposal. Simply dig a hole 15-30 cms deep, at least 30 meters from the water, then when you’re done replace the soil and restore the immediate area to its original condition, as much as possible.

Washing

If you need to use soap, either for bathing of dishwashing, please use only biodegradable soap and avoid draining the soap into the water source. It should be disposed of in an area where there is no vegetation and at least 30 meters from the lake or water source.

Avoiding Bears

Bears have a very keen sense of smell. To avoid attracting bears, please follow these simple guidelines:

  • Eliminate odours, as much as possible, including food and garbage, cosmetics, sunscreen, toothpaste and insect repellent;
  • Separate your tent from the cooking area and food supply, which should be downwind from the tent;
  • Store your food supplies in a sturdy bag 5 meters off the ground, 2 meters from the trunk and 1 meter below the branches. Never store or leave food in your tent;
  • Be sure to pack all your garbage with you when you leave. Never bury or burn your garbage. The bears will find it!

Be Considerate of Others

One of the most important components of outdoor ethics is to maintain courtesy toward other visitors. It helps everyone enjoy their outdoor experience. Many people come to the outdoors to listen to nature. Excessive noise, unleashed pets and damaged surroundings take away from everyone’s experience. So, keep the noise level down while traveling and if you bring a radio, use headphones so you will not disturb others. Also keep in mind that the feeling of solitude, especially in open areas, is enhanced when group size is small, contacts are infrequent and behavior is unobtrusive. To maximize your feeling of privacy, avoid trips on holidays and busy weekends or take a trip during the off season. Keep noise down in camp so not to disturb other campers or those passing by. “Goofing off” or “pranks” are undesirable social behavior and may lead to serious or fatal injuries. Also “events” need to fit the setting – save loud game playing for the city park!