In what is becoming more and more of an occurrence on public land, park officials in the state of Maine are closing Tumbledown Mountain to informal camping, saying that overnight partiers have been trashing the popular 3,000-foot peak in western Maine for months, according to a report at MainePublic.com.
Bill Patterson, deputy director of the state Bureau of Parks and Lands, says although there are no designated campsites on the mountain top, there is a long history of dispersed camping there. That accelerated during the pandemic and now, he says, it’s gotten totally out of hand.
“There are clubs or just groups of friends that go up and use and leave it in good condition. But on almost any weekend there’s a noticeable group with loud music, big coolers of beer, large fires. You’ve made a hard climb with your family to enjoy a beautiful view and the imagine finding that setting at the top,” Patterson says.
But that’s not the worst of it. Improperly buried human waste is also a major problem on the mountain. Patterson says the bureau considered installing latrines and creating formal sites, but decided that was not practical for the remote, sensitive terrain. Instead, all camping is barred on the mountain, effective immediately. Patterson says rangers will place notice signs at trailheads and educate hikers along the route. Violators will be asked to leave, he says, while state Forest Service wardens will patrol the area regularly.
This closure is a microcosm of what’s happening around the country and it’s a crying shame. As stewards of our public lands, it’s incumbent to always be a good neighbor and pick up after ourselves after we camp. Otherwise, we will find more and more of our favorite camping sites closed to the public.
The best approach when boondocking is to simply leave your campsite in better condition than when you arrived. If you see garbage, pick it up and haul it out. It’s a shame that we sometimes have to pick up after others, but we’ve reached a tipping point when it comes to public land use. If we don’t, we will all suffer the consequences.