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Ronan's report


Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Maybe it's just the rainy weather that has me feeling grouchy, but I feel like I've got a good reason to rant today.

This past weekend I had the chance to fish one of my favorite pieces of steelhead water here in Oregon with a great crew. The river isn't a secret, can have excellent fishing, and is also well known for whitewater rafting and backpacking/hiking, so it sees more than its fair share of recreational use. There are multiple sections of this river that have no road access, and recreationists must either float long sections of river between road access points(requiring multiple days), hike into areas and camp, or just fish or access the river for a single day. Boat access is controlled by a permit system, and floaters must adhere to strict "Pack It In, Pack It Out" regulations for both trash and human waste. Like the big wall climbers in Yosemite, floaters are required to carry a device that is sometimes affectionately referred to as a "poop tube". Foot access campers and day use recreationists are not required to carry these devices and are not explicitly held to the "Pack It In, Pack It Out" regulations for human waste.

Got it?

If you do, you might already see where this is going.

Back to this thing that's got me grumpy. This past weekend my three fishing partners and I spread out and fished a lot of different water. The weather was a bit odd, and we found some interesting fish, but the most universal comment that was made back in camp was something like "I can't believe how much shit and toilet paper is lying around out there this year." Pardon the foul language, but I feel justified to use it in this case. It was true. It was shit! In nearly every popular area, "surface dwellers" soiled an otherwise pleasant and beautiful place. In a few spots it looked like people had nominated small groves of trees as their own personal toilet. With the exception of the few laughs that we got out of naming one particularly shitty grove of trees after one of our fishing buddies, this discovery was completely unpleasant. There was no evidence that anyone was even trying to bury the waste! One of our group who had just returned from fishing a very popular run was fuming. "Some guy took a shit right on the trail! The rocky one leading down to that spot I like!"

I'm not really sure what to say about this. I don't like pointing fingers, but here it seems like it needs to happen. I understand that emergencies do happen when you are out fishing, but the evidence leads me to believe that this epidemic didn't just happen because everyone ate a bad batch of shrimp before heading down the river to camp. I know that the boat campers are using their "poop tubes" and portable toilets. So, the finger is pointing at the hike-in campers and the day use recreationists. And, I'm not proud to say it, but the fact that the shit is happening along some of the most popular fishing spots makes me think that it's anglers who are mainly to blame.

So, where is the line? Where are the ethics? I don’t know the answer, but I know that it's not ok to do what these people are doing. Find a stick! At least bury it if you have an emergency. Maybe the "poop tube" rule needs to be extended to all campers, since they are most likely to have to "go" during their time away from civilization.

And furthermore, does being away from civilization give you the right to be uncivilized? I love this river, and I treat it as I do my home. Better than I do my home, really. How would you feel if someone decided to just leave a pile of shit and some used TP on your front lawn or sidewalk? We don't even let dogs do that!

I pick up just about every piece of trash that I see on the river and can haul out without hiring a helicopter, but I won't pick up human waste in the interest of my own personal safety. So, since I'm not going to clean up the shit, and I don't fish most of the rivers out there anyway, I think everyone is just going to go ahead and clean up their own act, raise their standards, smarten up, and clean up after themselves. Pardon me for saying it, but no matter who you are, other people don't want to deal with your shit!

Take Care and Fish On,
Matt


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