Official Wood-Burning Fire Ballot

Please read the following carefully, then cast your vote!

To burn or not to burn…that is the question!

The issue of wood-burning fires at our outings has come up again.  People on both sides of this debate have strong feelings and the board wants to handle this issue properly and fairly.  We did vote on wood- burning fires at the Sugar Barge outing last year at our annual meeting, and it was decided to no longer have them as a group activity, either official or unofficial.  In consultation with RWV, we have confirmed that unofficial fires (those at any member’s campsite) can NOT be banned – each member has paid for their own, unique site – thus they may have a wood fire at their site (assuming the venue allows it).

However, since that time it has come to our attention that Roberts Rules may not have been followed in conducting that vote.  Any issue to be voted on at the annual meeting, must be published on the agenda that goes to all the members in advance.  The issue of wood-burning fires was brought up at the meeting so the members not present did not know this vote was being conducted and therefore did not have a say in this rule change.

To correct this error, the advisory board has created an online vote so that the entire membership will get their voices heard.  Please read the statements below, both pro and con, being aware that membership is voting ONLY ON OFFICIAL WOOD-BURNING FIRES, i.e., those announced in the rally agenda by the rally hosts, and then vote on the ballot at the bottom of this page.

Pro-Wood Campfire Statement – Merrily Robinson

I vote Yes for fires!  If you don’t want one, don’t have one!  Okay.  Seriously, we cannot control who is camped next to us (those not in RVW), so with respect to allergies/health sensitivities, maybe we could ask for “section” camping (only to help with lowering the possibilities of smoke near you).  Again, we can’t control all fires in the campgrounds!

We should not stop building campfires!

Anti-Wood Campfire Statement – Marilyn Cundiff

Particulate pollution from wood smoke in some areas is the major source of air pollution. Carbon monoxide is a major component of wood smoke. Volatile organic compounds include harmful pollutants. Wood burning has contributed to major destruction of our oak woodlands. Oak wood is one of the major sources of firewood. The survival of numerous species of birds, reptiles and mammals are dependent upon the oak woodland habitat. Wood cutting and burning is contributing to the inadvertent transfer of non-native species and destruction of our native habitats. Look what has happened to our forests with the introduction of the bark beetle. 

Many federal campgrounds and national parks have prohibited the import of wood and the burning of wood campfires. Urban areas across the nation have restricted the burning of wood in fireplaces unless, wood burning is the only way residents have to heat their homes. 

We do have alternatives.

Pro-Wood Campfire Statement – Marsha Nichols

Despite some adverse effects, I don’t believe campfires should be eliminated in their entirely!  

Steps should be taken so the enjoyment of campfires does not come at the expense of the environment!  The use of dry wood burns hotter and releases fewer pollutants.  Campfires should be smaller…we’re talking campfires, not bonfires!.  Thin sticks result in a hotter fire that burns all unwanted gases more efficiently.  Smaller fires release less toxins!

Research has shown that campfires can actually lower blood pressure!  Brain scans have proven that the longer a person stays in front of a campfire, the greater the relaxation!  Lower blood pressure is significant as it lowers the risk of stroke and eye damage and reduces kidney and heart disease (Charlton % Jenrick).

Dr. Christopher Lynn, medical and psychological anthropologist, University of Alabama, carried out tests on hundreds of volunteers.  What was found is that “campfires produced calmer, more tolerant people with enhanced prosocial behaviors!” (Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, 11/14).

We should not stop building campfires!

Anti-Wood Campfire Statement – Jess Wells

I believe that Freewheelers love the earth. I also believe that Climate Change is a major crisis and requires every single small contribution we can make to reduce our carbon footprint. We recycle, we don’t pollute the waterways or the lands where we camp. Time to take the next step and eliminate the toxins that go into the air from our campfires.

There are a number of Freewheelers who have respiratory issues who cannot be around campfires at all. If a campfire is supposed to be a communal activity, why are we doing something that many cannot attend?

The Northern California Freewheelers can be at the vanguard, finding new ways to camp that reduce pollution and protect Mother Earth. We’re that smart, we’re that committed, we’re that capable. As was said decades ago: if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

Please vote to eliminate WOOD-BASED campfires from the official Freewheelers agenda