The Deschutes National Forest has banned camping on No Name Lake, the picturesque glacial lake at the base of Broken Top, due to excessive amounts of human feces in the area.
“We have banned camping directly on the moraine next to the lake and are requiring people to camp a quarter mile away from the lake outside the moraine so they can bury their waste appropriately,” said Jean Nelson-Dean, DNF spokeswoman.
Jason Fisher, a wilderness manager with the Deschutes National Forest, said the compacted camping sites and social trails were damaging enough to the ecosystem, but the concentration of human waste in the area led to a crack down.
The rocky terrain offers limited soil in which to bury waste, he said, so campers were going on top of and behind the moraines.
“My rangers were cleaning up a lot of human waste every weekend and trying to bury it under lava rocks and it was really starting to smell, making it less than appealing obviously,” Fisher said.
He said there is plenty of good camping outside the lake basin and typically campers there spread out a little more, creating a better experience for the campers and environment.
“We’re just trying to get people out of the basin,” he said.
The popularity of the lake has skyrocketed in recent years thanks in large part to social media.
“Historically, it has got a lot of day use and very little overnight use – maybe one or two tents up there,” Fisher said. “It looks so pretty and has such a unique color and social media blew it up.”
Fisher said more than 500 people hike into the area every weekend, but a new Forest Service permitting system will go into place next year to limit the numbers at Broken Top and other locations around the region.
The pseudo-campground around the lake also diminished the experience for the day users looking for a flat spot to enjoy lunch or take a break after the hike up.
“We’ve been getting complaints from day users about how popular it has become,” Fisher said. “We’ve had a rangers up there and they’ve had a lot of positive feedback about the permitting system next year. We’ve got a lot more positive feedback than we expected.”
The lake was already slated to have a camping setback implemented next year, “we just fast tracked it before things got really out of control up there.”