Forest Service installs bear-proof food lockers at area campgrounds |

Forest Service installs bear-proof food lockers at area campgrounds

The U.S. Forest Service has increased bear-proofing for recreational sites and activities this summer inside the Lake Tahoe Basin.

With an increase in bear-human contacts this year, reducing opportunities for bears to access human food sources is more important than ever, said Forest Service spokesman Rex Norman.

Several Forest Service campground areas managed by California Land Management now have highly effective metal food storage lockers installed. Additionally, backcountry overnight campers can check out pack-in style food canisters free of charge for their Desolation Wilderness trips. By offering bear-proof options and increasing education, the Forest Service and campers can help keep bears wild, Norman said.

To date, 423 metal food storage lockers have been installed at the managed campsites. The lockers have proved to be very successful in denying wandering black bears access to human foods. The trick to their effectiveness is in using them.

The lockers are large enough for the average ice chest to easily fit, along with other camp food necessities.

Backcountry campers have options for bear-proof food storage while on overnight trips in the Desolation Wilderness, with 20 specially designed food canisters. The canisters, donated by the Tahoe Council for Wild Bears and the Tahoe Heritage Foundation, can carry enough backpacking foods for most overnight trips, and can be carried inside a backpack or strapped to the outside.

The Forest Service is offing the use of these bear-proof canisters free of charge, at the Backpacking Permit Trailer at Taylor Creek or at the Forest Supervisor’s Office off of College Drive in South Lake Tahoe. There is no charge but users must provide a swiped credit card slip as collateral for use of the canister. The slip will be returned, uncharged to the backcountry user upon return of the canister.

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