The Partnership Award recognizes efforts to build public/private relationships that improve the delivery of public goods and services within the Intermountain Region. “We’re honored with this recognition because it highlights how this public-private partnership builds something around a critically important issue to ultimately enhance public awareness resulting in greater safety for the public and protection for the grizzly bear,” said Garth Smelser, Caribou-Targhee National Forest Supervisor.
In 2014, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition partnered with the U.S. Forest Service on an ecosystem-wide project to reduce human-grizzly conflicts. The ongoing project installs bear safe bins in priority campgrounds throughout the ecosystem. Conflicts with humans are the No. 1 cause of bear mortality and the biggest threat to the bears’ continued survival. This project is a win-win for bears and people who create in bear country ensuring that infrastructure is in place to reduce conflicts before they start and address locations with chronic problems.
Following the 2010 grizzly bear-caused fatality in the Soda Butte campground on the Shoshone National Forest, the five Forest Supervisors within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem commissioned a management status review and assessment of 164-developed camping areas for reducing the potential of bear/human conflicts. Grizzly bears have recently moved into parts of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem where they have not occurred for decades. The Forests used this assessment to generate a prioritized list of needed mitigation in the campgrounds, with a 3-year strategy for implementation, to proactively address future conflicts as bears continue to expand. This type of partnership is the first of its kind to address grizzly bear conflicts ecosystem-wide.
Greater Yellowstone Coalition and the Greater Yellowstone Area National Forests—Caribou-Targhee, Bridger-Teton, Shoshone, Custer-Gallatin, Beaverhead-Deerlodge—collectively contributed over $500,000 over the past two years to purchase and install campground infrastructure such as bear-resistant storage boxes and interpretive materials helping the public be more bear aware. Many of the purchases have been made locally, which help sustain the local companies and communities.
“Reducing human and grizzly bear conflicts and fostering "bear aware" communities in our region is very important,” said Caroline Byrd, Executive Director for Greater Yellowstone Coalition. “Our organization and our donors are taking on this challenge by making a commitment to help install bear safe bins for food and other bear attractants in all 164 National Forest campgrounds in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The Caribou-Targhee National Forest is a remarkable partner in this effort and we are proud to share the honor of this award with them. “
Due to the success of this partnership, Greater Yellowstone Coalition has been able to continue to raise funds through their non-profit status while all partners will be able to help increase bear awareness and safety.