Mr. Green is busy on his world-wide publicity tour for his new book. In the meantime, here's a Mr. Green classic column from July 2007.
Hey Mr. Green,
Can campers still cook over a campfire, or should we use a Coleman stove? —Karen in Los Altos, California
The campfire is part of Americana, with cowboy actors staring into the flames and feeling lonely, philosophical, horny, or homicidal while wolves howl in the distance. But you are not John Wayne or Clint Eastwood or even Roy Rogers, and you should not rely on campfires for cooking--especially in dry areas or regions that are heavily used. Deadwood plays an important role in an ecosystem's life cycle, providing nutrients to the land as well as habitats for small animals, insects, and microorganisms. In many cases, land managers forbid fires, so check with the officials first. Take that Coleman or other stove along, and be sure you know how to use it properly.
If there's plenty of fuel, an occasional campfire is OK, as long as it complies with the cardinal rule of outdoor activity: Leave no trace. That means no carbon scars on the ground, no way for anybody but the shrewdest Old West marshal to know you were there. You can learn how from a Colorado-based organization called Leave No Trace or (800) 332-4100, or get advice from the affiliated National Outdoor Leadership School, at www.nols.edu or (800) 710-6657, ext. 3.