On the importance of using tree protection with hammocks

With the influx of students onto campus every August, there is also an influx of hammocks. Why hammocking is so popular perplexes me; regardless it is of common occurrence. Despite hammocking being beyond me, there is one issue I would like to make apparent in regards to those participating in the endeavor on the MSU campus. Hammock users, in my opinion, need to protect trees when using them.

In years past at MSU, slacklining was banned on campus for several reasons. People were rigging slacklines without tree protection, leaving them unsupervised, rigging across sidewalks and not being respectful of other campus goers. This is unacceptable behavior and due to it, slacklining was made illegal. MSU changed their outlook toward slacklining in large part by requiring the use of tree protection. Using tree protection causes less impact on trees used for slacklining and when used frequently, it is almost unnoticeable that slacklines have been rigged on trees.

Recently, hammocks are much more intrusive on trees than slacklines are. Hammocks are rigged higher than slacklines, and the noticeable wear on trees is from hammocks as opposed to slacklines. Most people using hammocks are also outdoor enthusiasts, and as such they should be following Leave No Trace principles. The evident wear that extensive hammocking has on trees contradicts Leave No Trace principles and should thus be dealt with.

By either using larger straps, or using pieces of carpet wrapped around trees, the impacts of hammocks will be largely minimized. There is no reason to not pad the trees on campus, as many people frequently use them. Many may see the need to carry tree protection as a nuisance, as hammocks are small and take up little space. However, we all need to make sacrifices to enjoy the activities we like to do. No slackliner likes having to carry tree protection, yet many do it anyways as without trees, they’d have no capability to rig the lines they love to walk so much. Hammocking should be treated the same way.

There is a responsible way to do things and a lazy way. Not using tree protection is more an expression of laziness than anything else. Hammocking in infrequent amounts will not have much impact on trees. However, large amounts of students overusing trees for hammocking will. The fact that hammocking is considered a verb is, in part, an expression of how much this activity is taking off. Do the responsible thing and respect the trees that allow you to hammock, or go rig your hammock off of metal poles.