Leave No Trace, Behind: Rocky Mountain National Park's pack-out poop bag program
Pack your poop, people: This week the Fort Collins Coloradoan and LovelandConnection.com are reporting on a new program at Rocky Mountain National Park to distribute free bags for packing out human waste, after park rangers noticed rising coliform bacteria counts in the groundwater near popular camping areas.
The double-bagged disposable travel toilet systems are available from "poop bag dispensers" at the Lumpy Ridge trailhead and Chasm Lake Junction on the trail to Longs Peak, and are being offered to anyone who obtains overnight backcountry permits for the park. To buy a supply of your own, check out WhenNatureCalls.com.
The standard method of doing your business in the wild usually is simple: Dig a cat hole 6 inches deep and at least 200 feet from a trail, campsite or river, cover it up and, if you can, pack out the toilet paper.
That's still the general rule at Rocky Mountain National Park, but there's a problem when a lot of people do that in the same space, said Jim Dougan, the park's wilderness program manager.
"The dominant thing that can be measured when the groundwater's contaminated with human waste is coliform (bacteria) counts rise," he said. "To humans, it becomes a health issue. Children are playing in the water and they put their hands to their face - and you can get contamination in a number of different ways other than just drinking it."
The Coloradoan also reports that the American Alpine Club will be hosting an international "Exit Strategies" conference (people who spend a lot of time thinking about human excrement tend to have a good sense of potty humor) in Golden in July to further address the issue of human waste in the backcountry.
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