[pct-l] campfires

Eric Lee saintgimp at hotmail.com
Mon May 18 16:14:47 CDT 2015

Judson wrote:
I was under the impression that fires of any kind were illegal in So. Cal.
Are they completely forbidden, or just discouraged, or does it vary from
place to place?

To specifically answer your question, the legality of a campfire varies from
place to place and from season to season in any given place.  In many areas
campfires are not a great idea, even if technically legal at the time, and
are strongly discouraged.  Especially this year.

You'll see a lot of people journaling about having campfires, even in places
where it's prohibited, because a lot of people aren't interested in changing
their behavior.  Campfires in particular are kind of a difficult behavior to
change because a lot of people have very strong associations between outdoor
camping and campfires, like you're not even really "in the wilderness"
unless you build a fire.  Fires are really nice for warmth, and for
companionship, and for cooking, and for all of those reasons many people
aren't willing to give them up.  Add a large dose of, "I'm a thru-hiker, I
live in the woods, I know what I'm doing, ain't no one going to tell me what
I can or can't do in my own living room," and, well, you get a lot of
campfires.  Very occasionally one escapes and causes problems, but usually
they don't, which only increases the sense of complacency.

Education can help a little bit but a lot of the problem comes down to
"will", not "knowledge".

To be clear, I'm not saying that campfires in high-fire-danger areas are ok;
quite the opposite.  I'm just describing why you see what you see.


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