River Ethics

Contents

Campsites
Camp and tent sites should be located in designated areas when available, or in sites with little or no vegetation to reduce impact to the resource. Campsite selection is an important aspect of minimum impact river use. Campsites are on a first come first serve basis. If your group is small and the river is busy try to leave larger sites for larger groups, or offer to share a large site with another party. Set up your kitchen in an area where it reduces trampling of ground cover. Check your camp for trash thoroughly before leaving. A detailed listing of BLM managed campsites along the Lower Deschutes is available on the Prineville District BLM website.
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Pack It In? Pack It Out.
Pick up and pack out all of your trash. Set a good example – pick up litter left by others. Repackaging food into reusable containers, and getting rid of excess packaging before the trip lessens the volume packed in, packed out and inadvertently left behind. A tarp can be used as a kitchen floor to catch food scraps that might otherwise be left behind. It is always a good idea to have trash bags handy during the day for empty beverage cans and litter. Cigarette butts do not belong on the ground or in the river. If you smoke put your cigarette butts in your pocket or trash bag and pack them out.
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Wastewater Disposal
Strain all dish/waste water through a screen to remove food particles. Scatter wastewater over a wide area, away from campsites, and at least 200 feet from streams, springs, or rivers. Soap should be used sparingly; even biodegradable varieties take a long time to break down. Remember: swimming reduces the need to bathe.
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Human Waste Disposal
Visitors on overnight river trips are required to use a portable toilet system where permanent toilet facilities are not available. Packing out human waste greatly reduces sanitation and environmental problems. Improper disposal of human waste spreads disease, contaminates water, and is an unpleasant find for the next party. Portable toilet dump facilities are located at Maupin and Heritage Landing. Contact Prineville BLM for a list of additional facilities. A handout on portable toilet policy for the Deschutes River is available for download (289 KB Adobe PDF document).
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Fire
The only way to avoid impacts from fire is not to have them. No fires are permitted in the Deschutes River canyon from June 1st to October 15th (peak fire season). Fires are permitted from October 16th to May 31st, but they must be contained in a metal fire pan. A fire pan is a metal tray with rigid sides at least two inches high. Oil drain pans and old barbecue grills make effective and inexpensive fire pans. Do not cut branches from live or dead vegetation. Firewood should be brought from home or charcoal should be used. Once cooled, ashes and coals should be carried out.
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Courtesy to Others
Boaters must respect others on the river. Be aware of anglers. Do not float over their lines or disturb their fishing holes. Also be aware of your noise level while floating by other groups/camps. Lewd conduct and obscene language are out of place on the river. Please respect private property throughout the canyon. The Deschutes Club maintains a significant amount of private land between miles 61.9 and 72.9. Be sure to camp and fish only on public lands. By following good river etiquette and safety tips, your trip will be safer and more enjoyable. What you do will affect the environment of the river and can reduce the need for future management and regulation.
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Cultural Artifacts
Allow other visitors a sense of discovery by leaving rocks, plants, archaeological artifacts, and other objects of interest as you find them. On public land, cultural artifacts are protected by the Archaeological Resources Protection Act (1979), which states it is illegal to remove or disturb these remnants of the past. Please notify rangers or other federal land management authorities if you discover any illegal activities. Remember, if every visitor thought, “I’ll just take a few,” there would be a significant loss. Thank you for preserving all of our heritage!
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