To Help Safeguard Campgrounds for People and Bears
Greater Yellowstone Region, Thursday, August 20, 2015 – Millions of visitors who camp and picnic in national forests in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem can sleep a bit more soundly this summer, knowing that 164 Forest Service campgrounds are being upgraded with bear-safe food bins and other bear management related features.
The upgrades are part of a new partnership between the Greater Yellowstone Coalition and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), and feature steel bins that deter bears and other wildlife from eating campers’ groceries and garbage.
On Thursday, August 20, 2015 more than 8 bear safe bins will be installed in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. An additional 28 will be installed later this summer on the Ashton/Island Park Ranger District. A media briefing and an opportunity to observe and capture footage of the installations will take place at 10:00 am, Big Elk Campground on the Palisades Ranger District. Take HWY 26 thru Swan Valley, go approximately 5 miles passed the dam to FS Road #262. Camp Ground is less than a mile up the road. For addition information Contact Lynn Ballard at (208) 524-7500 or Diane Probasco at (208)542-5818.
“The conservation of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone has the potential to be a remarkable success story, a shining example of how people and wildlife can exist together in harmony,” said Caroline Byrd, Executive Director of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. “This a significant, unique partnership that is resulting in great work on the ground. We are leveraging private donations, Forest Service resources and our passion to make huge, high-impact steps forward in an effort to keep people safe and grizzlies and other animals in our region wild.”
Officials estimate that more than 700 adult grizzly bears roam the 20 million acres of the Greater Yellowstone. Surrounding Yellowstone National Park, the ecosystem includes the Gallatin-Custer, Beaverhead-Deerlodge, Shoshone, Caribou-Targhee, and Bridger-Teton National Forests. There are 164 USFS developed campgrounds on those national forests, each with numerous campsites.
“A simple fact of grizzly conservation is that ‘a fed bear is a dead bear.’ We know from our experiences in the Greater Yellowstone Area these kinds of campground improvements have positive consequences for grizzlies and the public,” said Garth Smelser, Forest Supervisor of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. “Striking up this unique public-private partnership is exactly how we are able to move fast and in a definitive manner to enhance these wonderful campgrounds while reducing the potential for human-bear conflicts.”
“When wildlife learn that campgrounds are a source of food, the result is deadly for wildlife and a serious safety concern for people,” said Chris Colligan, Wildlife Program Coordinator of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. “From chipmunks to grizzly bears, everyone is better off when wildlife focus on their natural food sources. These campground upgrades make camping easier, while informing visitors who may not know the importance of proper food storage.”
As funding and resources allow, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition and USFS are in the process of installing bear-safe storage containers and informative kiosks at 164 priority campgrounds over the next three years. The effort in total is projected to cost $900,000 to meet the needs of all prioritized campgrounds in the ecosystem. In 2014 and 2015, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition will have raised $250,000, thanks to its generous donors. These resources are combined with matching grants and federal funding from the USFS.
The Greater Yellowstone Coalition – USFS containers are manufactured locally in Cody, Wyoming, and tested against the strength and wits of captive bears at West Yellowstone’s Grizzly Discovery Center.
Forest Service crews are in the process of installing the bins over the course of the next few months at campgrounds throughout the five National Forests spanning Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. The Greater Yellowstone Coalition continues to recruit donors to this program so it can be completed during the second and third seasons of the partnership.