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Required Closure of Overnight Camping at Crater Lake, Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness, White River National Forest
News For White River National Forest
Forest Service staff, working in partnership with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, determined that it is a reasonable and prudent measure given the escalation of human-bear conflicts documented there since June. This action keeps overnight visitors away from an area of potentially dangerous bear activity, prevents bears from further obtaining human food and garbage, and encourages bears to begin finding their natural food.

Officers from Colorado Parks and Wildlife will be staging in the Crater Lake area this week to use non-lethal methods for adverse conditioning the bears, including Tasers and rubber buckshot and bean bag rounds fired from shotguns to discourage bears from visiting Crater Lake campsites, where the bears often find meals of human food and garbage.

We are working closely with Colorado Parks and Wildlife to do everything we can to re-train these bears to search for food in their natural environment. We are being forced to take these measures due to a small but consistent number of campers who do not properly store their food and garbage while camping in the area, said Aspen-Sopris District Ranger Karen Schroyer. It only takes one irresponsible camper to perpetuate the problem.

On July 10, an emergency regulation was enacted requiring all overnight campers in Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness on White River National Forest to store food, garbage and other attractants in hard-sided storage containers that are approved under the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee Courtesy Inspection Program.

Since the regulation has been in place, Forest Service personnel patrolling the wilderness area have seen 50-75% compliance with the food storage restriction. Rangers have been issuing warning and violation notices in an attempt to increase compliance. Some visitors do not come prepared or are not using storage canisters correctly. As a result, emboldened bears in West Maroon Valley continue to become increasingly dangerous to visitors in search of human food and garbage, particularly at Crater Lake where bears have been rewarded with human food and garbage regularly.

All visitors to White River national Forest are reminded that approved hard-sided storage containers are required when camping in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. Visitors may encounter bear activity on any given day. Bears may be aggressive in search of human food, garbage and other attractants.

Campers and overnight hikers should be diligent to keep canisters sealed unless in immediate use. Be sure all food, garbage and other attractants are stored in canisters and place canisters at least 100 feet from campsites. Prepare and cook all food away from sleeping areas and where storage canisters are placed. Do not hang canisters or tie them to trees, rocks, tents, or other objects the rope gives a bear something to hold onto.

Bear resistant containers may be purchased online, at suppliers across North America, and at the following local outdoor stores: Aspen Expeditions or Four Mountain Sports, at Aspen Highlands Bristlecone Mountain Sports, Basalt Factory Outdoors or Summit Canyon Mountaineering, Glenwood Springs and Ute Mountaineering, Aspen Ragged Mountain Sports, Carbondale.

For more information, contact US Forest Service Wildlife Biologist Phil Nyland, at (970) 404-3156. Additional information about camping on the White River National Forest can be obtained by calling the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at 970-963-2266. Information may also be found on the Forest Service website at

To report a wildlife conflict, immediately call the nearest CPW office or Colorado State Patrol. To reach CPWs office in Glenwood Springs, call 970-947-2920