How many times have you searched for a boondocking only to find the public land closed to camping? It seems to be happening more and more.
Read on to find out why homeowners are asking officials to close camping in a nearby boondocking area.
We will also discuss boondocking etiquette and why it’s so important.
Let’s dig in!
Johnson Lane Public Land May Be Closed to Campers
Residents near Carson Valley in Nevada are fed up with campers in the area. They’ve filed complaints about squatters staying on adjacent public land for four to six weeks at a time, ignoring the 14-day stay limit.
You see, after two weeks, boondockers are supposed to move at least 25 miles away. Stay limits are in place to keep people from living on public lands and damaging the environment. Additional complaints include campers using fireworks and ATVs close to private homes.
The big problem is that the public land in question is right where the BLM ends and the neighborhood begins. People are camping right there, right at the border next to houses.
BLM officials are considering closing the in the Johnson Lane area closest to homes. Once the area is closed, officials can order boondockers to leave the site. The public land will remain open for day use.
The hard part is catching boondockers that have exceeded stay limits. Campers in the area are not required to have permits, so no one really knows when people get there, when they leave, or how long they’ve been camping.
Last spring, officials closed public land in Lyon and Washoe Counties because people stayed longer than 14 days. Campers in the area also left behind abandoned vehicles and hazardous waste.
Lyon County human services reached out to the individuals to assist them, recognizing that campers have been unable to afford housing, health care, and other essential services.
What Is Boondocking?
Boondocking is camping in an RV or van without hookups. It’s also known as wild camping, dispersed camping, and dry camping.
You’re typically staying on public land for free without access to water, electricity, sewer, or dump station when boondocking. Although you’re not in an RV park or campground, there are still designated camping areas and regulations.
Most people decide to boondock to keep camping costs down and experience a remote and quiet experience. Boondockers want to be off-grid and enjoy nature. The solitude and beauty found while boondocking are hard to beat.
Why Is Boondocking Etiquette Important?
Respecting the land, fellow RVers, and any nearby communities is essential. Having access to our public lands should not be taken for granted. People ignoring basic boondocking etiquette has led to many closures. If we want to continue recreating on public land and prevent it from being closed, we must know and follow boondocking etiquette.
How to Prevent Public Lands from Being Closed for Camping
Follow the Stay Limit
Even when camping for free on public lands, you can only stay for so long. Some places allow boondockers to stay up to 14 days, but others only allow overnight camping for less than a week. Once your time is up, you must move a specified distance depending on your location. This is usually at least 25 miles away.
To ensure you don’t stay too long, research any area you want to camp. The stay limits will be available online. Review them regularly, even if you’ve been to the boondocking site before. They may have revised their stay limits or closed the area to overnight camping.
Be a Good Neighbor
Just because no park officers or camp hosts patrol the camping area doesn’t mean it’s a free-for-all.
Boondockers should still follow quiet hours. Generally speaking, this means there shouldn’t be noise between 10 pm and 8 am. So turn off the generators and keep the noise down. Whether you’re outside or inside, no one should be able to hear you, your pets, or your RV.
During regular daylight hours, you should still be mindful of noise. No one wants to know what you’re doing outside or inside your RV. Keep parties tame enough not to disturb others and the fireworks at home. If you must, maybe just bring the sparklers and discard them properly.
Make sure to keep your distance from other RVers. You can wave or chat with them, but don’t park right next to them. And when you’re driving by, keep your speed low so that you don’t kick up excess dirt.
Work Wisely with Fire
We all love a good campfire, but we have to be smart about it. Your first step is to make sure you can even have a fire. Some places have a burn ban and will only allow you to use a propane or natural gas grill or fire pit.
If you can have a fire, make sure you buy local firewood to avoid bringing in invasive pests. If permitted, you can collect the dead wood in the area. Never cut down live plants or trees.
Once you start your fire, make sure to keep it chill. Boondocking is not the time to build an epic bonfire. Besides the sparks possibly igniting a brush or forest fire, you don’t want your home smelling like smoke, and neither do your neighbors.
Lastly, don’t burn your trash. Unless it’s plain paper, most waste can release toxic fumes. Even plastic-coated paper food packaging and many cardboard boxes can be harmful when burned.
Dispose of Waste Properly
We just talked a little about not burning your trash, but let’s dig into it more and talk about other RVer waste.
Boondocking means camping without trash receptacles. Although you can set up a trash can in your RV, you eventually need to throw it out. Make sure you pack it up and any litter around your campsite and take it with you. Have a plan for having enough space to store your garbage until you can dispose of it at home or in a dumpster.
While dry camping, you won’t have access to a sewer connection or probably even a dump station. So keep your valves shut and take all your grey and black waste with you when you leave. You’ll need to find the nearest dump station to empty your tanks properly.
Pro Tip: If you have a tow vehicle or toad, a portable waste tank allows you to run your waste to the nearest dump station without packing up your rig.
Leave No Trace
Of course, you want to take all your trash with you when you prepare to leave, but your camping location should look like you were never there.
Stick to the established roads, campsites, and trails. No matter where you boondock, you need to be the caretaker of the area while you’re there. Campers shouldn’t damage plants and trees in the area. And clean up after your pets just like you would anywhere else.
Anytime we boondock, we impact the natural world around us. We want to keep it undamaged and pristine so the area can remain open for future camping.
Steer Clear of Wildlife
Seeing wildlife in its native environment is one of the most extraordinary things about boondocking. Looking out your window and seeing a herd of bison is amazing. But that’s how you want to experience wildlife – from a distance.
It’s dangerous for you and the animal if you get too close or feed them. We should all respect even the cute and “harmless” wildlife like squirrels and deer. They are not pets to be touched or fed. To ensure wild animals don’t get any food or scraps, make sure you properly store and dispose of food.
Respecting Our Public Lands
If you take care of our public lands, likely, you won’t do anything to upset any sticks-and-bricks neighbors or the natural balance. Plus, we have a better chance of these lands staying open for everyone to explore.
Do you think the Jordan Lane homeowners are justified in asking for that section of public land to be closed? Let us know in the comments.
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