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Thread: LF hikers, do you remove plastic tree ribbons?

  1. #21
    Land-Scapegrace Heroique's Avatar
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    Re: LF hikers, do you remove plastic tree ribbons?

    Quote Originally Posted by domaz View Post
    Heroique, I wonder if some of these flags are left by well-meaning hikers trying to mark trails that were snow covered at the time.
    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Opheim View Post
    When it snows in the northwest hills and mountains you often can't find the trail. These could be a very needed winter marking system. Markings like these are used for cross country trail skiing…
    Yes, I suspect this is what one often sees, ribbons placed by well-meaning snowshoe hikers, cross country skiers, or snow mobilers to mark snow-covered trails – and whose ribbons, considerately left behind for other winter users who might follow, remain for the spring and summer hikers to “enjoy” once the snow is gone.

    Perhaps many of these winter users clean-up their work come spring, but I strongly suspect most do not.

    And the well-meaning summer hikers, especially when hiking off trail, are of course guilty of the same behavior.

    The overall consequence? Accumulating strands of multi-colored plastic for everyone to enjoy. (BTW, lime green ribbons seem to be an emerging fashion.)

  2. #22
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Re: LF hikers, do you remove plastic tree ribbons?

    Quote Originally Posted by Heroique View Post
    Attachment 216408

    Here's a typical trailside ribbon ... with no clear purpose.

    When I see a ribbon like this, my patience runs thin like Greg's.

    And my inclination is to remove it.
    The ribbon is nothing (and easily removed) but look at that rut in the earth. That might take a decade to recover.

  3. #23
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: LF hikers, do you remove plastic tree ribbons?

    Quote Originally Posted by ic-racer View Post
    The ribbon is nothing (and easily removed) but look at that rut in the earth. That might take a decade to recover.
    Poorly designed and constructed -- a water-gatherer to be sure!
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  4. #24

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    Re: LF hikers, do you remove plastic tree ribbons?

    In the Sierra you can find old license plates from the 1940s and 50's about 15' up tree trunks (because of the snow pack) marking snowshoe trails. What reflective coating left on the plates marks the route and stands out in your flash light beam after dark.
    A real life saver for SAR parties.
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.
    I'm not OCD. I'm CDO which is alphabetically correct.

  5. #25

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    Re: LF hikers, do you remove plastic tree ribbons?

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg View Post
    Personally I have no patience for people putting ribbons on trees. Only exceptions I accept are for forestry use, surveyors, and the temporary marking of a proposed hiking route, and I'm sure that there are also other valid reasons for putting ribbons on trees. Rock climbers are purest, I have never seen a rock climber mark the start of a route with anything. Personally I ignore them because in most cases I don't know why they were put there in the first place. Many years ago I came across a "trail" of them at the bottom of a mountain. Later on I found out that they marked the route that rescuers used to find and then carry out an injured hiker. Of course now GPS replaces ribbons like those.

    You must not get out very much in the climbing world. ....

  6. #26

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    Re: LF hikers, do you remove plastic tree ribbons?

    Well, in days past I regularly carried a roll of flagging tape (that's what we called it, not "ribbon") with me to mark my trail into the woods so I could easily find my way out after dark. I flagged tree branches in a "line-of-sight" pattern so that one flag was always visible from the position of another. That way, I could wander aimlessly with my camera looking for photos and not have to worry about where I was, what was the way out or getting lost. Getting back out after sunset was then simply a matter of finding a flag in my flashlight beam, walking over to it and then finding the next.

    Of course, I collected my flags on the way out.

    I don't know who's doing all the flagging that you're talking about, Heroique, but unless I was certain that the flags left behind were superfluous and not there for a good reason, I would leave them. I might remove one for a shot and then re-attach it afterward, but I don't think I'd want to un-mark a trail or conceal the boundary of a study area or un-mark a hazard tree, etc.

    Most of those flags are there for good reasons, so unless I knew for certain that the flag had outlived its purpose (or was there for a purpose I wanted to protest - intentionally throwing a wrench into the works), I'd leave it be.

    Best,

    Doremus

  7. #27
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: LF hikers, do you remove plastic tree ribbons?

    Logical!

    Quote Originally Posted by Doremus Scudder View Post
    Well, in days past I regularly carried a roll of flagging tape (that's what we called it, not "ribbon") with me to mark my trail into the woods so I could easily find my way out after dark. I flagged tree branches in a "line-of-sight" pattern so that one flag was always visible from the position of another. That way, I could wander aimlessly with my camera looking for photos and not have to worry about where I was, what was the way out or getting lost. Getting back out after sunset was then simply a matter of finding a flag in my flashlight beam, walking over to it and then finding the next.

    Of course, I collected my flags on the way out.

    I don't know who's doing all the flagging that you're talking about, Heroique, but unless I was certain that the flags left behind were superfluous and not there for a good reason, I would leave them. I might remove one for a shot and then re-attach it afterward, but I don't think I'd want to un-mark a trail or conceal the boundary of a study area or un-mark a hazard tree, etc.

    Most of those flags are there for good reasons, so unless I knew for certain that the flag had outlived its purpose (or was there for a purpose I wanted to protest - intentionally throwing a wrench into the works), I'd leave it be.

    Best,

    Doremus
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  8. #28
    Land-Scapegrace Heroique's Avatar
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    Re: LF hikers, do you remove plastic tree ribbons?

    Quote Originally Posted by Doremus Scudder View Post
    ...unless I was certain that the flags left behind were superfluous and not there for a good reason, I would leave them...
    There are many uses of ribbon that can expand one’s enjoyment of the forest while making it safer to do so. But after ribbons serve their purpose, if the people who use ribbons don’t remove them (or arrange for others to do so), the ribbons will naturally accumulate in the forest everywhere over the years, robbing others of their own enjoyment – and polluting the landscape too. This is what I’m seeing in my PNW region.

    What helps keep abandoned ribbons where they are, of course, is not knowing their purpose:

    As Doremus correctly suggests, no one wants to remove a ribbon that will, say, help an off-trail hiker get back to the trail that evening: better to leave it alone if you’re unsure. But it may have been tied to that branch during someone’s day hike two years ago. So the conscientious hiker who might have removed it – and left the forest better than he found it – keeps the old ribbon in place. The problem isn’t addressed; to be sure, it keeps getting worse.

    If only tree ribbons were like a deflated mylar balloon caught on a branch – everyone could immediately recognize it as a threat to the forest and remove it without hesitation. Clear problem, clear solution.

  9. #29
    Alan Klein's Avatar
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    Re: LF hikers, do you remove plastic tree ribbons?

    What if someone put up a ribbon to help them find their way back to civilization? Now you've done it and remove it and they're probably still wondering around lost and getting real hungry.

  10. #30
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: LF hikers, do you remove plastic tree ribbons?

    Reminds me of professional dog walkers using public parks. They put the poop in plastic bags for sake of picking it back up on the way back, but never do. It would be better just to leave it unbagged; it would decay faster. Left around plastic is civilization as far as I'm concerned; a civilization of slobs.

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