This story first appeared in the June 16th edition of the Island Park News (Island Park, Idaho).
NEAR ALTA, WYOMING – On a recent Monday morning at Treasure Mountain Scout Camp, the Boy Scouts were talking trash.
Garbage, that is.
And the talk was all enthusiasm for the new bear-resistant garbage dumpsters just installed at the 75-acre camp in Teton Canyon, thanks to a grant from the Greater Yellowstone Coalition.
“If we’re able to keep it clean so that we won’t attract those bears, and have them in our things, then it makes the week go a lot better and we can run our program more effectively,” said Ethan Sanns, an 18-year-old Scout leader from Rexburg, Idaho.
The Scouts can now safely put their trash in six new dumpsters here, as well as properly store their food, candy, toothpaste, and other scented items in 20 large bear boxes, thanks to a $25,000 grant from the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, a non-profit group that protects the lands, wildlife and water of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Other contributors to the project included the Boy Scouts of America and environmental consulting firm CH2M-WG Idaho.
“We want to keep people safe and bears alive and wild,” said Kathy Rinaldi, GYC’s Idaho Conservation Coordinator. “These dumpsters and boxes are the best way to do that.”
Treasure Mountain Scout Camp’s unfortunate history of attracting bears includes a time last year when the camp had to be closed and Scouts relocated while a black bear was trapped and later killed. The young bear was used to eating food and trash left out at the camp and in the canyon. That incident prompted the Boy Scouts and Greater Yellowstone Coalition to pool the money to bear-proof this camp, which is used by 2,000 Scouts each year from eastern Idaho, western Wyoming, and southwest Montana.
The camp’s older bins were too cramped to really do the job, said a few scouts at the camp on Monday. But the new bins are far roomier and can hold all the Scouts’ gear and food. They’re also easy to get in and out of – if you’re a human.
“It’s just like a bear dumpster – you just grab the latch and open it up. Oh man, these are awesome,” said Tamara Holverson, a scout at the camp on Monday.
Besides being convenient and keeping Scouts safe in bear country, the dumpsters and bear boxes make it easier for the Scouts to follow the common-sense rules issued by the Caribou-Targhee National Forest to keep people safe (and campsites less nasty): Secure your food and garbage, and make sure your barbecue grill and fire pit are clean.
“Two to three hundred scouts a week should be able to learn how to properly store their food and how to live in bear country,” said Forest Service District Ranger Jay Pence. “This is a great opportunity for our next generation of outdoor men and women to learn how to enjoy recreating in bear country.