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Ah, wilderness finger wagging

June 29, 2004

Editors' note: Last week's cover photo (right), taken in 2001 by Times staff photographer Ken Hively at an existing fire ring near Thousand Island Lake, generated a lot of letters from readers eager to assert that building a fire at this elevation -- 9,833 feet -- is illegal and/or reprehensible. Environmentally incorrect? Yes. Illegal? No. The Ansel Adams Wilderness Area prohibits fires only above 10,000 feet and less than a quarter mile from the lake's outlet.

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Even if a fire were allowed, it is irresponsible to use such a limited [fuel] resource. If every hiker used as much wood as your picture shows, this area would soon be devoid of any trees or underbrush.

Jeff Tamminga

Long Beach

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The wood he's burning isn't just fuel, it's habitat and nutrients for the creatures and the soil at that altitude, and that's lost just so this guy can enjoy the "romance" of the backcountry. He's not even cooking.

David Spellman

Rosemead

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Judging from the photo, it seems the hiker broke the golden rule -- he built the fire ring on a pristine alpine meadow. The burn scar from that ring could take 20 years to heal.

David Vassar

Los Angeles

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Above timber line, dwarf trees take hundreds of years to reach 6 to 8 feet in height. If everyone made a fire, we would have a bald lake shore in one season.

Sylvia Sur

Los Angeles

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Your doofus has a blazing fire without even breaking his pack down.

Richard Mead

Oak Park

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Congratulations! You have just tied for first place in the most self-serving category with the picture of a roaring, illegal fire in a wilderness area. Previous first-prize holder: the article about the woman who enjoyed her dog running down deer while tromping through closed, fire-damaged forest.

Al Schuh

Santa Clarita

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