Here’s the Situation: While camped in an area that does not allow collection of wood for fuel, you notice people a few campsites over dragging large logs to their fire ring. It's getting dark and the temperature is dropping, but the campsite host that typically sells firewood isn't around and the wood is locked up. While driving in, you noticed another campsite host a few miles up the road. What do you do?
What you said:
Head over to their campsite, introduce myself, invite them to hang out with us at our campsite without a fire, but good company. Maybe get into talking about why they might not be allowed to collect wood if it seems appropriate.
Go up the road to the other campsite host or better yet skip a fire for the night and use a stove to cook!
Use the Tranger to cook food as food warms you up more than a hot drink.
Walk over and suggest that they cook dinner and warm up with a stove and not a fire along with our campers and then suggest warming up with an active game of dark hide and seek (marco polo style for those of you who have never played hide and seek in the dark)
What our Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers said:
The first step is to walk past their campsite, stop to say hello, maybe comment on the changing weather, and then ask if they’ve eaten dinner yet. If they have not, ask them if they plan to use the fire to cook dinner. Then, if you have sufficient fuel remaining, you can offer your camp stove to help them prepare a warm meal before the temperature drops too much. While offering you can mention that the ban on collecting wood for fuel protects the scarce resources of the area, possibly for wildlife habit. If they have eaten, and are building the fire for more social purposes or warmth, you can direct them to the other campsite host farther up the road to purchase wood or to a possible campfire alternative. Maybe you can offer them your stargazing chart to be an alternative activity. Again, it is important to remind them of the reasons for the ban on collecting firewood. Often, this occurs in canyons with scarce dead wood that can be used by animals for habitat or for nutrient recycling and decomposition. Its always great to check in with the local management agency to be sure what kind of fire regulations there might be in your area before you head out on your overnight trip and if the folks around you forgot to check before they left you can be their helpful resource.