I Recreate Outdoors

Clean water is essential for protecting the health of people, marine mammals, shellfish, and fish. When you are recreating in Whatcom County, your activities can easily affect the rivers, shorelines, and marine waters where people play and harvest shellfish.  Keeping human and pet waste out of our waterways is part of the solution to improving water quality in our community.

Boating, RVing, and enjoying the great outdoors while backpacking, hiking, camping, skiing...the list goes on...are fun adventures. And with those adventures, poop happens. It can happen anytime, anywhere. It’s hard to prepare for every situation, but it’s important to plan ahead. 

Make a pooping plan. We know many rural and remote recreation areas don’t have bathrooms, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to poop in the woods. Bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens can be washed into the water and spread diseases. It’s your responsibility to do the right thing and keep trails clean and rivers and marine waters safe for wading, swimming, fishing, and harvesting shellfish. Just like planning your gear and route for your adventure, you’ve got to plan for this too.

Tips for Boaters
Tips for RVing
Green circle with grey icon of a person hiking over rocks
Tips for Recreating with Pets

Tips For Boating

Place Your Waste in its Proper Place. Use Pumpouts and Shoreline Restrooms. The Puget Sound and the Salish Sea in Washington are part of the No Discharge Zone (NDZ). That means it is illegal to directly discharge your boat sewage and holding tanks when you are boating in these waters. Read more about the NDZ and verify that your boat is in compliance.

Tips for boaters  lock y valve check for leaks, don't throw waste overboard

Pumpout Stations and Restrooms are Available at:

Use this map to make a pumping plan:

Tip: Blaine Harbor and Squalicum Harbor both provide shower and laundry facilities for customers and visitors to use shore facilities and reduce graywater.

More information:

Tips for RVs:

RV dump stations are available at various locations across the county and state. Plan your route so you know you don’t forget to dispose of your holding tank waste properly. Use this Sanidumps map to find RV dump stations on your trip.

RV Waste Water Graphic

Note: If you are staying in an RV for an extended amount of time, call the Whatcom County Health Department at (360) 778-600 to talk about safe ways to connect to a septic system or other pump out options available to you. Some local septic companies may be able to provide on-site RV tank pumping.

Tips for Recreating in Remote Areas

The best option is to use available facilities before it’s too late! When that’s not an option, here are tips about how to poop in the woods the right way and Leave No Trace:

  • Check trail info for places you are required to use a "blue bag" or "W.A.G" bag.
  • Dig a 'cat hole':
    • Stay 200 feet away from water (about 70 paces).
    • Dig a hole that is 6 to 8 inches deep, and 4-6 inches wide. 
    • Cover the hole and disguise it with natural materials. 
    • Pack out toilet paper.

Tip: If you are going to be camping in an area for more than one night, or are camping with a large group, cat hole sites should be widely dispersed. 

Skagit County-Poop Smart logo

Checkout POOP SMART by Skagit County for more tips!

Tips for Recreating with Pets:

We love to have our pet companions join us on adventures. Just like human waste, pet waste needs to be disposed of properly to protect water quality. Scoop it, Bag it, Trash it! Pet poop is pollution and should be packed-out, just like any other garbage. Tools like a sealed container, a pack-it-out bag, or a mini dog poop trash-can for your boat or car, can help you transport those bags until you reach a place for proper disposal.

make your own pooperware: container with a lid to hold dog poop while outdoors