Divide & Conquer2018-07-16T10:46:04+00:00

Project Description

DIVIDE & CONQUER

OBJECTIVE: The Foundation would like to work with the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service in exploring solutions to excess human waste at several dense campsites along the JMT, including the possible use of “dry” toilets that separate liquid from solid allowing partial composting, elimination of odor and ease of packing out.

DIVIDE & CONQUER

OBJECTIVE: The Foundation would like to work with the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service in exploring solutions to excess human waste at several dense campsites along the JMT, including the possible use of “dry” toilets that separate liquid from solid allowing partial composting, elimination of odor and ease of packing out.

There are several places along the John Muir Trail where hikers have camped next to one another in large numbers, leaving excess human waste in and around the area such that it can be seen and smelled. At such altitudes and temperature extremes, this human waste does not readily decompose, remaining in place from season to season, with the continued presence of salmonella, e coli, norovirus and other pathogens. Unless removed or controlled, it may risk water quality in adjoining lakes and streams. With increasing numbers of people on the John Muir Trail congregating and camping in central trail junctions this problem is growing.

The Foundation would like to work with the NPS and US Forest Service to explore solutions. At the most critical and densely camped locations, it may be appropriate to send crews up to locate and pack out whatever they can find and reasonably excavate. It might also be appropriate to consider a pilot program at the most congested sites to install and test new technologies for “dry” toilets. With this technology, the liquid is separated from the solid, allowing decomposition of the liquid and partial composting of the solid. The result is an odor-free reasonably light-weight substance to pack out and dispose of properly.

This is not something that is dramatic or interesting. It is the hard work of keeping the wilderness clean and free of human pathogens. It will be costly and time-consuming to deal with. Yet, anyone hiking this magnificent trail will be very thankful for this effort!

There are several places along the John Muir Trail where hikers have camped next to one another in large numbers, leaving excess human waste in and around the area such that it can be seen and smelled. At such altitudes and temperature extremes, this human waste does not readily decompose, remaining in place from season to season, with the continued presence of salmonella, e coli, norovirus and other pathogens. Unless removed or controlled, it may risk water quality in adjoining lakes and streams. With increasing numbers of people on the John Muir Trail congregating and camping in central trail junctions this problem is growing.

The Foundation would like to work with the NPS and US Forest Service to explore solutions. At the most critical and densely camped locations, it may be appropriate to send crews up to locate and pack out whatever they can find and reasonably excavate. It might also be appropriate to consider a pilot program at the most congested sites to install and test new technologies for “dry” toilets. With this technology, the liquid is separated from the solid, allowing decomposition of the liquid and partial composting of the solid. The result is an odor-free reasonably light-weight substance to pack out and dispose of properly.

This is not something that is dramatic or interesting. It is the hard work of keeping the wilderness clean and free of human pathogens. It will be costly and time-consuming to deal with. Yet, anyone hiking this magnificent trail will be very thankful for this effort!