Smith River Bear proof containers? - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 03-14-2018   #1
 
Darby, Montana
Paddling Since: 2005
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Smith River Bear proof containers?

What are people using for Smith Rivers bear proof containers laws for all food, trash, drinks, ect. I have a 120 qt NRS cooler that I can put 2 locks or 2 nuts and bolts to secure per regulations but it is not on their (approved tested container list). I assume you cannot use an ammo box for trash since you can't lock it. Are people renting approved containers? Using electric fences? are there trees at all campsites to hang all food stuff? How about using steel cables and locks around dry boxes? Are the rangers that picky on the river?
Any thoughts would be appreciated Thanks:

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Old 03-14-2018   #2
 
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lafayette or Grand Lake, CO., Colorado
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I would talk to the ranger, not rely on any opinions here about using non certified/homemade bear proofing. An electric fence (certified) is always a good piece of equipment to have on most rivers. I have seen bear or bear scat on every river I have been on. Had them pass through the camp more than once. Only had one try to make him/herself at home in camp.
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Old 03-14-2018   #3
 
Missoula, Montana
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Just bring a bear fence, you can rent or buy, but it's way easier to deal with than worrying that all your containers are certified.
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Old 03-14-2018   #4
 
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Belgrade, Montana
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I didn't go last year so I don't know if things changed, but 2 years ago, they simply asked "how are you planning on complying?" - no inspection, no hassle. We used a fence. They did mention you could get things approved at the regional forest service offices - they were talking about home made containers or retrofitting. I'm not sure how it would apply to the Engle, er NRS cooler but I'm pretty sure if you can lock it, it'll be fine...I doubt they are going to check it against a list.

Most sites have trees but not all - that's going to end up being an issue in the long run, if people actually comply using the hanging method, it's going to put a lot of stress on the best trees at each site. My guess is folks will say that's what they are going to do, then never do it. Think about how much stuff you'd be hanging on a typical river trip... We hung our stuff on a SF Flathead trip and it was like 200+ lbs a night going into a tree. It was actually fun at first but did get a bit old by the end of the trip.

The fence is really the way to go, but it still has it's drawbacks. In my mind being bear compliant on the Smith is a complete rethink of packing and rigging as I usually have things stuffed all over (especially beer) and having to totally unpack the boat every night is a PIA. Historically I'd leave my stuff in the boat and get what I need, when I need it. I'd have stuff in drop bags under benches, buckets, dryboxes and coolers. Now, to be truly be truly bear compliant, all that stuff either needs to be in a locakable box or cooler OR come up and get hung or put behind a fence, again kind of a PIA.

The fence is nice as you can just surround your kitchen... put everything in the kitchen then wrap a fence around it. That doesn't mean you should leave food laying out inside of containers within the fence as that is still an attraction. The best way to avoid bear problems is to keep a clean camp - the rest of this is all BS really. Clean camps all around = no bear problems but unfortunately there are obviously folks not heeding to that.

My fear about all this, especially with fences, is that people will still be slobs and will still attract bears and this whole issue will get worse... At least if you're forced to put everything in a box or in the air, your forced to clean up every night.... with the fence I see way to many people just surrounding their mess for the night. I'd rather see them not worry about bear compliant boxes but worry about clean camps every night. If all the food is put away, even if it's in a wood or plastic box, it's less likely that a bear will be attracted in the first place... it's just that simple.
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Old 03-14-2018   #5
 
bozeman, Montana
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Agree with elk on all points.
I’ve been down 4 times since they started this new rule and have only had my gear checked once,but I would recommend u having the right gear, there’s always different rangers.
The bear fence is somewhat practical, hanging your stuff is not at all in my opinion, I have a Mad Cow “bear” box and it’s sweet.
The problem by far is the garbage/messy camp issue. The last few years, I’ve never seen it so bad.
Get this, 6/2016 we get to our camp (upper Parker) and there’s 3 different piles of shitty toliet paper laying right in camp, and in another camp earlier the was a half of a fucking watermelon right next to the fire ring. Unbelievable, it did make for a interesting dice game to see who got to pick up the ass wipe.
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Old 03-14-2018   #6
 
Missoula, Montana
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Quote:
Originally Posted by patrick l View Post
Agree with elk on all points.
Iíve been down 4 times since they started this new rule and have only had my gear checked once,but I would recommend u having the right gear, thereís always different rangers.
The bear fence is somewhat practical, hanging your stuff is not at all in my opinion, I have a Mad Cow ďbearĒ box and itís sweet.
The problem by far is the garbage/messy camp issue. The last few years, Iíve never seen it so bad.
Get this, 6/2016 we get to our camp (upper Parker) and thereís 3 different piles of shitty toliet paper laying right in camp, and in another camp earlier the was a half of a fucking watermelon right next to the fire ring. Unbelievable, it did make for a interesting dice game to see who got to pick up the ass wipe.
That's fkn gross. Hopefully you noted it on your floater log (heheh) and let them know at the takeout. From what I was told, they take that kind of thing seriously and will locate the permit holder than previously occupied the site.
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Old 03-14-2018   #7
 
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Belgrade, Montana
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seantana View Post
That's fkn gross. Hopefully you noted it on your floater log (heheh) and let them know at the takeout. From what I was told, they take that kind of thing seriously and will locate the permit holder than previously occupied the site.
Unfortunately who knows who did it - probably not the group that camped there the night before. Most likely someone at lunch...or something? At any rate it's pretty hard to know who f'd it up.
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Old 03-14-2018   #8
 
Wondervu, CO, Colorado
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With a bear fence you can meet the regulations for a whole group for about $300. I can fit all the coolers, food and trash for a group of 12 inside. Other solutions I looked into were far more expensive.

I used the bear rules to justify buying a Yeti cooler, which is certified bear proof with a padlock. I can leave the cooler in the boat and not need to haul it inside the fence each night.

For trash I modified some 20mm rocket boxes to make them bear resistant (added U-bolts so they can accept a padlock.) You can get your home made modified rocket boxes certified with an inspection, but inside the fence they don't need to be certified.

I'm not sure I trust the fence to discourage a determined bear. So I figure the best practice is to keep a really clean camp.
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Old 03-14-2018   #9
 
Wondervu, CO, Colorado
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Here is a link to a .pdf that lists a number of bear certified products, including some modified ammo cans.

http://westernwildlife.org/wp-conten...ntproducts.pdf
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Old 03-14-2018   #10
 
Belgrade, Montana
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I'll follow up on Elk and say that they don't inspect thoroughly. However that is no reason to not be compliant. The bear fence is by far and away the easiest way to comply. Find a friend who has chickens or any other bit of livestock and they probably have 20ft of electric fence net you can grab off of them or just grab some at your local feed and seed. Get a piece of rebar for your grounding stake and a solar/battery powered fence charger and be done with it. Takes us 5 minutes to set it up each night. Hell most of the time we just stretch it around the kitchen and be done with it. Peace of mind and can be done for less than $100. That saves the trouble of owning a ton of "bear proof" containers and coolers or stringing shit in a tree.

Fence it. It costs next to nothing. Add in $5 for everyone on your permit and let them buy you a fence. Then you have it going forward.
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