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Topic: The rules don't apply to me ...< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 03 2013, 12:42 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Last weekend ldyblade and I went on an overnighter on the Hoh River in ONP.  The trail was slightly muddy in some places and so footprints were evident.  We were on the trail less than a mile when we noticed a big canine footprint in the soft pliable trail prtions.  It was not too big to suggest a wolf but still big.  We discussed the possibilities and came to the conclusion it was either a coyote or a big dog.  The further we went and the more tracks we saw, we realized it must be a dog, which are not allowed on ONP trails.  About two miles in we saw a woman and a big dog coming our way down the trail as they ran.  The dog was on leash.  As they passed going back to to the trail head, we only gave the woman a dirty look.

This is just one example of people who violate the rules like this.  We have also witnessed two guys on mtn bikes on the Elwha River Trail in ONP, campfires during burn bans, cutting trees, etc.  So the question I have is, what should we do as backpackers when we see violations like this?  I ask because most people have always told me they dont say anything because it's "not my job".  But with budget cuts and inflation, the staffing for backcountry and frontcountry rangers is slim and getting slimmer, do we as backpackers have an obligation in any way to remind others of the rules and regulations?  I'm not talking about physycal confrontations, getting into shouting matches, or that sort of thing; just a friendly "Hey, maybe you aren't aware but ..." kinda reminder of the rules.

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 03 2013, 12:50 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Me I'd directly complain to the rangers, give them the "public input" to better visitor education (anyone entering the park with a dog should get a pamplet on the regulations regarding where they can and cannot go) signage and enforcement.

That one woman isn't the problem it's the overall laxity (such as there is) in educating people and then enforcing the regulations on those that choose to ignore the education.

She may have been one of those who deliberately sees rules as for "others" but then again she might have just been unaware. Dealing with either of those in the macro sense is the park service's job. Giving them feedback incentivizes them to do it on the squeeky wheel principle. Perhaps shifitng the balance between cultural demonstrations toward resource protection when the entertainment componenet seems to be what the visiting public demands.

I look at the FB comments on the recent Merced River Plan with awe in that regard: the major and repeated complaints are about the ice skating rink proposed removal! To read many of those the sole reason people visit Yosemite is to ice skate and float on a raft.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 03 2013, 1:00 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'm just not the type for confrontation and usually just let a ranger know whats going on.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 03 2013, 1:05 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

No, I don't believe that we are under any obligation to remind others of the rules and regulations. That's my short answer. And just giving somebody "dirty looks" might be the worst response possible.

I have spoken to people about staying out of protected areas, etc., but not out of any obligation. Most of the time, they just didn't notice the sign or know what the pile of sticks on the trail meant. Last July, I saw a women letting her dog play in a lake that was clearly marked with signs (I think they were every ten feet apart or so) indicating that the water was toxic and would kill dogs. I almost didn't say anything, but then couldn't help myself. She broke down crying, and had just missed them somehow (she was hot and tired).

Overall, I don't feel obligated, but if something seems important enough, I will politely mention the rule or reg, assuming it was a simple mistake. I make about 800 mistakes per day, so I'm pretty aware that others most likely do the same.

Also, I should mention that I don't remember ever having seen a ranger where I hike in New England. Except maybe the summit of Mt Washington, but those rangers seem to be there to help the visitors.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 03 2013, 1:06 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Non confrontationaly educate them as to the rules; don't engage in an argument just inform.

If the person is not receptive drop a dime on them.

Pretty much what we do out here in the spring when guys tear up the IMBA single track after the spring thaw.  

Is it posted or is there website you can refer them to? We have a website that we refer folks to for trail conditions. I also carry some of our maps of the trail system that have the county guidelines about riding in the mud as well as the proper etiquite on the trail when dealing with horses, hikers and other cyclists.


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 03 2013, 1:12 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

If I see one infraction and no harm done whatsoever -- I would just give it a shrug.  If I start seeing 'a bunch' -- then I would let the authority know.

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 03 2013, 1:26 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I have a hard time biting my tongue over stuff that irks me like that.  Yeah, not real good at being zen and shrugging things off.

I usually play dumb "Oh, when did they start allowing dogs in here?  We left ours at home because we didn't think they were allowed"

I've also pulled up next to people in traffic and politely told them I thought their turn signal was broken :)


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 03 2013, 1:37 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Firedancer @ Apr. 03 2013, 1:26 pm)
QUOTE
I have a hard time biting my tongue over stuff that irks me like that.  Yeah, not real good at being zen and shrugging things off.

I usually play dumb "Oh, when did they start allowing dogs in here?  We left ours at home because we didn't think they were allowed"

I've also pulled up next to people in traffic and politely told them I thought their turn signal was broken :)

:D

I like that approach if you're going to choose to say something.


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 03 2013, 1:43 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

EastieTrekker probably has the right approach, but I'm usually so diplomatic.  I usually make a pointed comment such as,  "I guess you're special and the rules don't apply to you."  Can't help myself.

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 03 2013, 2:06 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(EastieTrekker @ Apr. 03 2013, 10:37 am)
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(Firedancer @ Apr. 03 2013, 1:26 pm)
QUOTE
I have a hard time biting my tongue over stuff that irks me like that.  Yeah, not real good at being zen and shrugging things off.

I usually play dumb "Oh, when did they start allowing dogs in here?  We left ours at home because we didn't think they were allowed"

I've also pulled up next to people in traffic and politely told them I thought their turn signal was broken :)

:D

I like that approach if you're going to choose to say something.

As I mentioned in my original post, I try to make it as non accusatory blaming as possible.  At a high mountain meadow I saw four campers building a fire during a burn ban.  As politely as possible simple started chatting with them and then inserted, "You might not be aware, but there is a burn ban statewide now because of extreme fire danger."  They told me to go f^@# myself.  I then simply said I hope their fire doesn't fet out of control and left them to their firebuild.  about a half hour later a ranger came through.  She not only made them put the fire out, but made them packup and return to the trailhead.  They hiked out in the dark with the ranger following them.

On several occassions I have informed people of such things in a similar manner.  Some were genuinely shocked they were in violation of the rules and some were like those mentioned in the previous paragraph, and there were reactions between.

I used the word obligation in the sense of a civic duty sorta way.  In no way do I think we are to be demi-police.  I guess the dirty look or look of disapproval is simply because I was pretty sure the woman was aware of the rule, due to the unigue circumstances of the Hoh River trail.

Rumi


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 03 2013, 2:17 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I think it really matters what they're actually doing, and what real, measurable harm or impact may come from it.

What harm comes from a dog on a leash, or a well trained dog off leash? Then there's the old debate about what's higher impact, steel-shod 1200 pound horses, or single-track mountain bikes. Every day there are fewer and fewer places to walk your dog, ride your horse, or ride your mountain bike.

I personally feel that there are far too many rules and regulations, and that if one treads lightly and respectfully then others should shut their pie holes. New rules are added every day, and few, if any, are ever retired.

Live and let live. If a horseman, mountain biker or dog walker wants to take a chance with the LEOs and go "out of bounds", it sounds like a personal problem. Know what I mean?


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 03 2013, 2:17 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Someone violating the dog rule I would shrug it off. Someone burning in drought conditions I would say something. Two entirely different consequences. If i caught someone dumping coffe grounds in the back country I might shoot them.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 03 2013, 2:24 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(hikerjer @ Apr. 03 2013, 1:43 pm)
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EastieTrekker probably has the right approach, but I'm usually so diplomatic.  I usually make a pointed comment such as,  "I guess you're special and the rules don't apply to you."  Can't help myself.

I'm merely riding Firedancer's coattails  :p

And to be honest while I like her approach the best, in reality if I do speak up (which isn't all that often) I'm a bit more like you.


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 03 2013, 2:34 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'd let it go. Confrontations in the wild are not a good idea. I'm sure almost all violators know what they're doing and don't need me to point it out. I'd prolly tell a ranger if I saw one or call the ranger station when I got back.

However, a solo woman with a dog on a leash can be forgiven more so than a solo guy with a dog off a leash.


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 03 2013, 3:13 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

We all should protect a public resource but it depends whether I'm going in or out.  Going in I'm not likely to have good enough cell phone reception.  Going out, I'll call the rangers if it is something big; fire during a burn ban season around here can be catastrophic, for instance.  If big enough I'll reverse directions (not sense going in if potentially trapped by a forest fire).  There's some things you put up with overnight around trailheads in rural areas, however.  Drunks shooting guns about 1/2 mile up the trail for one (nice enough old dudes when we passed them in the AM though).

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 03 2013, 3:20 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I don't get confrontational (usually) but I have said "You know, dogs aren't allowed on trails in RMNP."
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 03 2013, 3:25 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(desert dweller @ Apr. 03 2013, 11:34 am)
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I'd let it go. Confrontations in the wild are not a good idea. I'm sure almost all violators know what they're doing and don't need me to point it out. I'd prolly tell a ranger if I saw one or call the ranger station when I got back.

In my way of thinking a confrontation with the rules can be done in a non-confrontational manner.  And I agree most of these people are aware.  Part of the purpose of a friendly reminder is simply to confront them with the fact others notice.  If we all pretend not to notice then it leaves them comfortable to continue pretending they aren't violating any rules.  Yea, it ain't much but it could be enough to change their behavior.

Rumi


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 03 2013, 3:57 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I was hoping this was an instructional thread...  :D

I once went off trail once on Hurricane Ridge, to take a photo, and was thoroughly scolded by a woman that hadn't noticed that I had been careful to step mostly rock to rock to get to where I was.

I once followed a black Trans Am into a gas station in Sheridan, Wyoming to lecture some idiot about throwing cigarettes out as he drove through the Bighorn Mts, which were one of the few parts of the Central Rockies that weren't on fire at the time.

I hiked the Sierra High Route with a dog that was almost never on leash, my other hiking partners were a ranger and his dog.

I'm not killing wolves.

I occasionally think about relocating some bears. The cats seem to be finding their way into this habitat on their own.

Conscience is more complicated than what some people think.

Discussion welcome.  :)


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 03 2013, 4:10 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Depends on the person/situation/who I'm with.  If I'm alone, I'll rarely if ever say anything - because you just don't know who you are dealing with.  If the person seems sketchy or maybe they've been drinking, or there's a weapon around - then I wouldn't even if I did have someone to back me up.  Even us rangers know when to pick our battles ;)  But if the situation seems okay I'd say something like, "Hey nice looking dog.  But did you know this is a trail that doesn't allow them?  But I do know of some trails that do, let me show you on the map..."  Or, if you can ever get their license plate and call it in, that's always a good course to take.

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 03 2013, 7:06 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Marmotstew @ Apr. 03 2013, 2:17 pm)
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Someone violating the dog rule I would shrug it off. Someone burning in drought conditions I would say something. Two entirely different consequences. If i caught someone dumping coffe grounds in the back country I might shoot them.

I won't tell you about that time with the orange peel, then....

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 03 2013, 7:11 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I sure wish I had had cell service that time I heard a group of people rolling large boulders in a lake near where I was camped. They really deserved some penalty, in my view.

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 03 2013, 9:16 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I suppose the best advice is to access the situation and decide whether it's really worth it.  Some times it is and some times it isn't.  I would imagine all of us could have been called to account at some time or another, myself included.  I didn't like it but I was guilty.

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 03 2013, 9:49 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(hikerjer @ Apr. 03 2013, 6:16 pm)
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I suppose the best advice is to access the situation and decide whether it's really worth it.  Some times it is and some times it isn't.  I would imagine all of us could have been called to account at some time or another, myself included.  I didn't like it but I was guilty.

+1

I suppose the biggest gripe I had was telling my boys we could not have a fire in that place/time when others were doing the same.  I also had to explain why dogs weren't on leash when they had read the sign at the trailhead that all dogs were to be leashed.

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(tarol @ Apr. 03 2013, 4:10 pm)
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Depends on the person/situation/who I'm with.  If I'm alone, I'll rarely if ever say anything - because you just don't know who you are dealing with.  If the person seems sketchy or maybe they've been drinking, or there's a weapon around - then I wouldn't even if I did have someone to back me up.  Even us rangers know when to pick our battles ;)  But if the situation seems okay I'd say something like, "Hey nice looking dog.  But did you know this is a trail that doesn't allow them?  But I do know of some trails that do, let me show you on the map..."  Or, if you can ever get their license plate and call it in, that's always a good course to take.

As a lone backpacker I generally follow your train of thought on 'advising' those who are erring out in the middle of nowhere.  I do have the additional technique of 'blame the ranger' in the form of friendly advice such as 'That's a nice dog but you should be careful about walking it on this trail. If a ranger sees you they might issue you a citation.'  That way I can be friendly, the message gets across, and someone else can be the bad guy.  :D
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 04 2013, 2:33 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I rarely meet anyone because I choose routes and camping locations off the beaten path. When I do meet people, they seem mostly conscientious enough. Occasionally they are not and I later find the trash they left behind at a camping location. So it is too late to say anything anyhow.

In general, I agree with Hikerjer just above and ask myself if it is really worth a confrontation. Fires are a good  example of something worth a confrontation. There is so much territory here that is like a tinderbox waiting for a spark or match that fires are just too dangerous to ignore. And there are better or worse ways to initiate a confrontation.

Something that has irked me the last few years has been ATVs in a roadless area. It seems to be one or a few individuals whose favorite brew is Bud Lite. And occasionally I find fresh wheel tracks and new cans along the path they take. I would be willing to go to some extra trouble to get a license plate and description if I ever got close enough to identify them.

Combine the illegal ATVs with illegal fires and you have a situation I reported to the Forest Service last year. They are undoubtedly locals who drove their ATVs into a roadless area, dug a firepit, stockpiled wood, left their trash and returned later. I cleaned up after them and destroyed what I could of their campsite. Then I gave their exact location to the Forest Service. It erased the remnents they left behind, but I suspect the culprits got away. I don't know. But I'd be willing to go out of my way and do a little detective work to get them in trouble. They took big risks.

Otherwise I pretty much mind my own business and work on educating people before they do the wrong thing. It's one of those "ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" approaches.


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 04 2013, 2:54 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I take pictures and send them to the appropriate person.

If I say something I try to be polite as possible.

Its entirely possible they don't know they are trespassing.  I did last year, mtn biked on a closed trail.   They had just closed it that season and I had been riding for 12 seasons prior.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 04 2013, 8:16 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

This same sort of thread has risen before and the range of responses and reasons are what one usually reads.  Most people won't confront those breaking rules in the wilderness but a few like you and this person will.  Such confrontations take personal skills most people simply do not have and actually are similar to ones used in professional work places when one person might confront a peer  with constructive criticism.  

Each situation is different and the wise person that wants to make an input needs to consider what to do wisely.  Average persons are simply much too emotional in most all communications both positive and negative such that acting like a diplomat is foreign behavior and they learned long ago not to confront others if at all possible.  However those are the same people that often have difficulty in marriage relationships because when they do confront their significant other on issues it comes out too emotionally and otherwise they hide their real feeling.

I would expect your excellent personal skills and intelligence I sense on this board with your inputs should allow you at least sometimes to confront those breaking rules in ways that are productive.  If the only people confronting rule breakers are backcountry rangers then our wilderness areas are in trouble because there are far too many out there with poor attitudes and behaviors, some ignorant while others are quite aware what they are doing and are likely unethtical cheaters and liars in others areas of their lives too.   It is always easier to confront another individual if you are with a group.  Conversely an individual confronting a group of aggressive looking individuals ought to reconsider.  

I've confronted numbers of both individuals and groups particularly those making illegal campfires or building illegal firepits at above regulation elevations and those who camp very close to lakes.  They are almost always quite embarrassed though a few have reacted angrily expecting an in kind reaction.  By not reacting and immediately leaving calmly without pressure one can be sure they will spend time thinking about what they are doing and their own reaction.  When people who thought they only have to worry about backcountry rangers are confronted by a peer, they are likely to forever  think twice from that point on about their actions because there are a whole lot more of us.


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 04 2013, 11:19 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Normally, I just take note of the offenders and relay the message to the patrol Ranger to make an official "Contact".

There was time though, and I've told this story many times, where I contacted an illegal group site of ~ 35 Boy Scouts that were camped at Island Lk, in the heart of the Wind Rivers.

The previous night they'd built a HUGE Bonfire, despite the area being under a permanent no- wood fire ban since it's at/above timberline, ( I hate to even imagine where the wood came from for their fire), but the coup de grâce was the next day when all 35+ were running around screaming at the top of their lungs after taking a morning dip in the ice cold waters of the lake.

I contacted the Scoutmasters and announced myself as Ranger ------- of the Pinedale District of the BT-NF, off duty on my personal time off, but that they were in violation of multiple ordinances and I would report them as soon as got back to "my" office..

They never dissembled their camp , or split up into separate groups but Mother Nature took control.

Being "Boy Scouts" all of their tents had treats, food bags etc , not properly stored.

By the next evening after I talked to them, all of their tents had been ripped open, all of their food was gone to the plethora of marmots, and the entire group was begging for food from every other camper around Island Lk to get them back to Elkhart Pk.


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 04 2013, 11:22 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(swimswithtrout @ Apr. 04 2013, 11:19 pm)
QUOTE
By the next evening after I talked to them, all of their tents had been ripped open, all of their food was gone to the plethora of marmots, and the entire group was begging for food from every other camper around Island Lk to get them back to Elkhart Pk.

Karma.

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 05 2013, 12:04 am Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

I do some volunteer work in the Smokies and when I am "in uniform" it is VERY obvious the people who are breaking the rules know full well what they are doing - especially when you get more than a mile or so from the trailhead. Normally they will do everything they can do to avoid talking to me. The average person cannot tell the difference between the volunteer uniform and the law enforcement uniform so they just avoid everyone in uniform.  Close to the trailhead it is common to come across people with dogs who honestly didn't know they were not allowed. Most often they will apologize and go back to their car.  Once I had a guy tell me "my taxes paid for this and I'll bring my dog if I damn well please". I just walked off since there was nothing good coming of that conversation.

Here the 2 most common rule breakers are #1 people camping without permits and #2 dogs on trails. The people camping without permits were not a big deal (except for shelters) and since I am not enforcement I never asked to see a permit but when I went over to them to introduce myself and give my little talk about hanging food (etc) you could tell who had a permit and who didn't. The people without a permit would look like they were hiding something. I'll be doing my first trip since the new fee this weekend so it will be interesting to see how many folks do not have a permit. I don't expect a big change in % with a permit though.

When I am not in uniform I notice a different attitude from the dog people. They are more hostile when I mention the rule about dogs in National Parks. I'd say at least 90% know they are not allowed and just don't care. Again, this  doesn't apply to the folks who are close to the trailheads. It's the backpackers with dogs I am talking about. Though when I am not in uniform I don't think anyone has went back to their car like they do when I am in uniform.

I normally take a few minutes to say hi, how are you enjoying your day, etc then work in something like "you know, it can be very dangerous for your dog to be on the trail. There are all kinds of nasty viruses in the coyote droppings that your dog is capable of infection and does not have any immunity against. These viruses can be any anywhere on the trail. They are also susceptible to the same protozoa in the water as we are but we normally treat our water and the dog drinks from the source.  Small dogs make a good meal for a bear (I am exaggerating a little here). For these reasons the Park Service has banned dogs from the Smokies. I am not and enforcement ranger but if you come across one you will most likely be finned.
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