Squatting In National Forest and Wilderness Areas

I see a lot of threads on this site asking about squatting on BLM land and in National Forests and Wilderness areas. Having a bit of experience at this sort of thing I’d like to offer a little information and advice.

Firstly, yes, you can camp in one spot for a maximum of 14 days. But then you must move to a different BLM, National Forest, or Wilderness District and can’t return to the old district for a period of 30 days. So in practice you’re going to need a minimum of three different districts to migrate between in order to be in compliance with federal law.

This sounds easy but isn’t always. Districts are often separated by many miles and the BLM, National Forestry, and Parks Service have intentionally drawn district boundaries in such a way as to make it difficult to easily migrate between them. They are also not eager to share maps showing the different districts and boundaries. But you can find them on the Internet.

So. My advice to anyone wanting to squat on federal land for an extended period of time is to first (1) get a national district map (2) goto the website Wilderness.net and (3) Google Earth or Maps. These three sources of info will enable you to scout for an area within a National Forest or National Wilderness area that meets the following critical criteria:

Heavy tree growth
Relatively easy terrain
Free flowing WATER
Abundant small game
Abundant fish
Within 2-3 days hiking of town with hospital and outdoor supply stores
As far removed as possible from main hiking trails and Park Service dirt roads

Of all the aforementioned, finding suitable camps sites far removed from dirt roads and Rangers is the most difficult to attain. But it can be done.

I’ve spent extended periods of time (years) squatting in National Forests and National Wilderness Areas without migrating between districts and living in permanent lean-to shelters. It just requires some in-depth research on the front end before you go tramping off into the woods.

It also requires a highly experienced Bushcrafter and survivalist with the proper top drawer equipment. Because what we’re talking about is thriving in remote wilderness areas for extended periods of time. Not weekend camping or short range hiking. So if you lack the experience, skills and equipment DO NOT attempt becoming a mountain man or woman until you’ve invested the time, trouble and expense of mastering the proper skills. Otherwise you’ll just end up critter scat.

It is no secret that an important thing I want to talk about is sustainability, I bring it up in most posts and communication I make. Certainly there is common thinking for getting away from civilization and rewilding with living on the land, at a natural level. Going out camping is a way to go in that direction. And national forests, national parks, and BLM areas are useful for that. But we know civilization is unstable, ruining this world, and can’t last, with collapse ahead which those in it can’t see how close it is. It is not sustainable, how can we who would leave it not be living just as unsustainably? If we use such lands, what would we be subsisting on? Wildlife is rapidly decreasing and at the rate that it could be gone in just years. Would you still use wildlife? Would you be, or are you, using products from animal agriculture? It would not be good to value things from agriculture, and animal agriculture is the most unsustainable. It is for this that there are those starting fires in the Amazon rainforests, that they are rapidly burning away, that land will be made available for raising livestock, and growing feed for them. Animal agriculture grows with using more land, and from this wildlife is disappearing.

So what are you going to have? Would it be a way that is as unsustainable as the way of an individual in civilization?

I myself think that being where you can have things growing which would be enough, with simple living especially if primitive, for what is needed, is important for sustainable living that people should have.

That depends entirely on the individual. Short of starvation, a single person can’t justify killing large species such as deer, bear, moose, etc. However, rabbit, squirrel, snake, fish, and certain species of birds are far from endangered and in some areas overabundant. Then there’s native flora. Walking through a forest is akin to walking through a free supermarket if you know what you’re looking at. However, the modern luxury of eating three meals per day should be discarded unless you want to spend every waking moment searching for food. One meal per day of high density protein, carbs, and fats should do you nicely and isn’t difficult to procure. The point I’m trying to make is that everyone has an inherent responsibility to relearn the common skills of their ancestors with the ultimate goal of working back towards the neolithic. This isn’t encouraged in modern society and in many cases frowned upon, ridiculed or outright illegal. So be it. If the end comes in my lifetime I’ll be living comfortably in a national wilderness area while most are cutting each other’s throats for a cup of water and scrap of food.


And your advertisement contributes to the dialogue in what way?

RiverRatRandy, there was not anything I was trying to advertise. I meant for you to look at the site that was linked to, which you show you did not do, as you were saying that it is alright to be killing animals found among the wildlife. If you had you would see my point, that wildlife is rapidly decreasing. I saw better links further for showing that point after posting, it is however not an easy thing for me to go collect them for showing here, and why should I bother if even one for it won’t be looked at? It is certain that wildlife is rapidly decreasing, and we have responsibility to live differently without contributing to it, either directly with killing off wildlife still, or indirectly but still certainly contributing to it with our market demands, definitely including any demand for what we get from animal agriculture.

It is alright to kill certain species in the wild for food. As I previously stated, and you obviously didn’t read, some species of smaller game are not only not endangered but overpopulating. At any rate, Sunbather and I were discussing the better ways of acquiring survival and bushcrafter skills in this thread. Do you have anything along those lines of discussion to contribute? Because that’s what Sunbather was asking - where and how he could acquire survival and bushcrafter skills. And a portion of those skills involves acquiring food in the wild. We weren’t debating anything. We were discussing a particular topic. I suspect a great many of the people on this site have interpreted “rewilding” as exclusively meaning rolling back urban development. It does not. It also includes relearning how to survive in the wild.

Will it really matter that some small animals are growing in numbers when all wildlife will be gone? No, all wildlife will be gone, then. It is really happening, I have the information. Nature should be left intact, natural predators are a part of the systems they come from. Humans are the ones which should perish. The world would be better without out all of them.

All humans should perish? Jeez, you need to get out of your parent’s basement more often.

I would like to see this “information”. It’s hard to believe considering so much “wildlife” is more resilient than us humans - and will likely outlive us.

Furthermore, life isn’t that simplistic. Wildlife doesn’t sit around singing hippy chants - those animals are in competition, directly & indirectly. Sure, most humans aren’t helping, but overpopulated species are detrimental to the rest of wildlife. Hunting them is actually better for nature than not doing anything.

WWF also has a pretty lackluster reputation when it comes to protecting nature AND the people who are already living sustainably.


I’m definitely interested in this topic. Do you have a set of the minimum skills one should possess before giving it a go?

Friction fire & hunting are obviously non-negotiable. What else?

I see that wildlife on earth and in the seas is quickly disappearing, and it is humanity being in this world that is ruining it, and the most important animals in this world are disappearing because of humanity, and hardly any will change how they live to diminish contribution to that. The natural world would be best off without humanity being here, and if humanity was gone, the natural world could speedily recover. It is frustrating to me, I expect rewilders could understand the situation of the natural world and what is needed for it, but still most don’t, really.

And I am likely significantly older than you. I communicated with you by email as you invited, but you were not responsive. I won’t dignify that comment from you with further responses.

It should not matter what source I linked to when there are many sites showing this.

We, all of humanity, are the overpopulated species detrimental to wildlife.

Hi Frank,
I just want to say that I for one really appreciate your consistent, unrelenting passion for the other animals and all life on Earth, and your refusal to retreat into the anthropocentric attitude. The situation these days is so horrendous, the challenge so huge that we easily get into disagreements about the best way to respond. My own approach (in progress—not quite ready to post on that yet) differs slightly from what you have proposed at times, but I am basically on the same page as you, and continue to be inspired by just knowing that you and other people who care (most of us on this forum, despite the disagreements) are out there doing your best all the time. Thank you for that.

Amazing isn’t it how the tree-hugging Bambi crowd took over my thread? Tolerant lot, aren’t they? A man asked for information on wilderness survival and how he might go about learning the proper skills. Having spent most of my 65 years as an outdoorsman and bushcrafter I attempted to offer a little advice and point him in the right direction. But as you can see a large group of hippie dumbasses crawled out of the woodwork to hijack our thread. So I’m done with this bullshit website and the idiots that populate it. ta-ta…

Hey RiverRatRandy,
I never meant anything against what you are doing, I think it’s great. My own approach is also learning primitive survival skills, but within a city—a very barren land compared to those protected areas that have (so far) escaped the worst of the overrun of civilization. I certainly don’t have as much experience in my chosen way as you have in yours, but I am working on it every day, on my own, and learning a lot. I realize that this does not relate specifically to your original intention for this thread, sorry about that— just wanted to let you know that this hippie dumbass is not just talking. All of us here are working in the same general direction, even if in very different ways.

I am aware of the anthropocene, but not one of those sites corroborates the claim that “all wildlife will be gone”. Of interest, however, is that none of them point to hunting as a significant cause of the extinctions - 90+% is pretty clearly tied to habitat destruction:

“Previous research has shown the main culprit behind the declining wildlife numbers… is the loss and degradation of habitat.”

“The study found that heavy livestock grazing along border areas – often illegally within protected area boundaries – is depleting the forage for wild herbivores and reducing the frequency of natural fires.”

“The report shows that the biggest recorded threat to biodiversity comes from the combined impacts of habitat loss and degradation, driven by what WWF calls unsustainable human consumption.”

I’m not disagreeing with you on the crux of the problem, brother, so please read my words as if I might actually have some insight to offer. Perhaps a story would better convey what I’m trying to get across:

When the “civilized” people came to the Americas, one of the first things they did was kill off all the predators in their surrounding habitats - which today includes basically the entire east coast.
Now, the extirpation of wolves, coyotes, & mountain lions is a sad fact, but even worse than their deaths is the void that remains in the ecosystem without them. Other animals have no natural pressure limiting them from breeding to excess.
Deer are especially destructive, as they graze the forest bottoms down to bare earth, further degrading their own habitat & leaving very little food & shelter for other species or even new trees to replenish the forest.
The deer population has even gotten too high for their own good, and Chronic Wasting Disease (which is always fatal) continues to spread among them & into more & more areas.

I wish we could bring wolves back, & trade our cities for forests, but it’s not going to happen anytime soon. Meanwhile, the deer population needs to be kept in check, for the health of countless other species & for their own good. Why not get people connected to the land & the web of life around them (and disconnected from the thoughtless consumerism that has them eating farmed meat) by taking over the wolves’ role?
After all, since we are the ones who drove off the wolves, isn’t it our responsibility to take over their role, at least until they return? Do you think their is a better and PRACTICAL way to protect “nature” in this regard?

I also realize the actual number of deer would quickly vanish if “everyone” was hunting, but in my own state at least, the number of hunters continues to decline - even as the total population continues to grow. Hunting isn’t the problem, the disconnect from our ecosystems is.

Thank you, Eileen, for that response. I would look forward to communication with you through this.

I do try to be understanding, and I see what you say here. But there are things I hope will be heard in regard to these things, that I don’t see hunters give consideration to. We are still part of a greater whole. The natural environments of this world are suffering, and being diminished too, from humanity here, and we are a part of that. I don’t think all wildlife will necessarily disappear, but for wildlife to not disappear requires that humanity as a whole will live very differently. The human population increasing needs to stop, very soon. There are too many humans for this world. Animal agriculture is most detrimental to natural environments of this world. None of us, you or me, should be part of the demand for animal agriculture anymore. We are not wolves, or top predators, either. The top predators were always few and would never become so many, as humans have, and are doing so more. What is sustainable for us to do? What is sustainable is what would be best in this world with all people doing. What could this world handle with stability all humans doing? They should really reproduce less, that human population does not continue growing but gradually decreases from the excessive number. Animal agriculture should no longer be used. Can they all hunt? Is that what the world can handle with stability? If what we would do is not what the natural world can handle all humans in the world doing, what that is would not really be sustainable. We are not wolves, and any of us hunting do not ever hunt in the way wolves, or any natural predator, will hunt. They should be in place for that. And if humans are living in a sustainable way, which isn’t with civilization, and predators are let back, they will return to where the grazers are. It is for them, not humans, to hunt, and humans should live in the sustainable way, while the population of humans comes down.

But am I so sure, or even optimistic, that humans will change soon enough? No, I rather doubt it. Civilization would necessarily collapse, but will it collapse before all the damage it could do to wildlife has been done?

I agree with a lot of what you say - particularly the importance of reversing the current trends concerning animal agriculture & population growth. But I find some of your ideas a little contradictory.

You acknowledge that humans have a role in the ecosystem (that we are “part of a greater whole”) - but the rest of your philosophy seems to be filled with the Us versus Nature divide that pervades “civilized” thought. And rather than say what our role is (or should be), you simply say what it isn’t (again, solely from the perspective of a civilized person). Obviously we are not wolves, but like it or not we are essentially the “top predators”; if not, what stands above us in the food chain to keep us in check? (Whatever it is, it’s doing a pretty poor job).

There is no sustainable way to support 7+ billion people. Fossil fuel does that currently (if you consider overfeeding 1/3 of the world & underfeeding the rest sufficient to call it that). Our population will need to decline, but until that happens we will have to preserve the world around us - and that means taking responsibility for our mistakes. Taking on the role of the wolves is just an example of this.

Perhaps you disagree. If so, what do you think humanity’s role in the ecosystem is? Or rather, should be.