The campgrounds of Montana have been visited by more people than ever this past summer. The allure of our state's scenery has brought curious folk into the rural landscapes, often where they've never been before. And some of them don't know how to treat our public places.

The Bureau of Reclamation is one of the federal agencies that look after our public facilities and a recent report is discouraging. East of Helena is the Canyon Ferry Reservoir and the associated public campgrounds. That includes the Fish Hawk Campground on West Shore Drive. In a report issued by Reclamation last week, they reported trash left throughout the area (photo above), trees cut down and campers staying over the 14-day limit. Even outside the campground, people were camping in non-designated area, which damages the natural surroundings that we treasure.

There are some simple rules that exist on all our public lands. Those include "pack it in, pack it out" when it comes to trash. When you're out in the wilds, camp "light on the land." In other words, disturb the natural surroundings as little at possible. And we all know about checking for Invasive Aquatic Species on our boats and fishing gear. Campers are constantly urged to make sure their campfire is completely out before they leave their campsite. Yet, again this year on the Bitterroot National Forest, abandoned campfires were the largest type of human-caused fires in the valley.

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Brittany Jones reported the damage was so bad at the Fish Hawk Campground near Helena this year that Reclamation considering new limits. They may only allow day-use at that campground, with no overnight camping. Apparently no final decision has yet been made. And Canyon Ferry is not the only place that has seen some bad behavior by those who have spent time in our Montana outdoors. We are lucky to live in such a beautiful place. Let's try to keep it that way.

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