In an attempt to prevent “problem bears,” the U.S. Forest Service proposes to require proper storage of food and garbage at developed recreation sites on national forest lands in the Lake Tahoe Basin.
“A forest order requiring proper food and refuse storage would help protect both humans and black bears by reducing the number of human-bear encounters,” Nancy Gibson, supervisor of the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, wrote in a letter announcing the proposal Thursday.
Bears are strongly attracted to human food, pet food, garbage and scented items. If they can access them, they become familiar with them as food sources and can pose a safety threat.
“By properly storing human food, pet food, scented items and garbage, we’re hoping to prevent the habituation of bears and deter bears that are currently habituated,” said Stephanie Coppeto, a wildlife biologist with Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit.
If approved, the forest order would require bear-proof dumpsters and food storage lockers at all Forest Service campgrounds, resorts, trailheads and beaches in the Lake Tahoe Basin.
Fallen Leaf Lake Campground, Meeks Bay Resort and Meeks Bay Campground would be the initial implementation sites for what would eventually become a forest-wide action. The goal is to have at least those three sites addressed by this summer.
Other locations that do not presently have approved bear-proof dumpsters or food storage lockers would be exempt from the forest order until such facilities are made available.
Forest orders requiring proper storage of food and garbage are not uncommon in national forests in the Pacific Southwest Region and Tahoe and Inyo national forests have had such orders in place for years, according to Gibson.
The proposed forest order is undergoing an environmental assessment. A 30-day comment period will follow a draft decision notice after the assessment is prepared.
Public comments are most helpful if they are received by close of business March 14.
For more information, visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/ltbmu/FoodStorageOrder or contact Stephanie Coppeto at 530-543-2679 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.