GMC executive director Mike Debonis has asked us to share the following information:
We have had a number of bear issues crop up this year and there have been a couple of actions that were elevated in priority due to the density of bear-human interactions. The largest areas of bear activity reported this year have been Glastenbury Mountain and near Stony Brook Shelter.
- Bear boxes have been installed, in consultation with the Forest Service and partners at Goddard and Stratton Pond shelters. We are currently working to get boxes into Stony Brook and Tucker Johnson shelters.
- Field staff have put together a rapid assessment of the GMC shelter system to determine suitability of each site for the following food storage options that could be provided and managed by GMC: bear box, fixed hang, pole hang, or no-action. We will be working with this assessment to develop a plan that includes expenses, implementation timeline, and management considerations for each site. This will be a deliberate process that will likely be discussed, reviewed, and finalized over the next 12 months.
- We are actively messaging bear awareness information and news through our website, social media, and traditional media avenues.
- Temporary informational signage has been placed at shelters and trailheads on an as needed basis in consultation with our partners.
Additionally, our partners at the Forest Service have taken the action of drafting and finalizing a food storage order for the Green Mountain National Forest. The full text of the food storage order can be found on our website, the GMNF website (link below). The basic message is that appropriate food storage precautions must be taken system wide. Forest Service staff are working to determine the details of the order (i.e. what canisters or other commercially available storage systems qualify under this order) and that information will be forthcoming.
Our job, as we see it, is to educate the hiking public about the importance of proper food storage etiquette. The USFS doesn’t expect that every thru-hiker currently out on the trail will have seen this order prior to their entry into Vermont and the messaging about this order will roll out over the course of the next year.
A copy of the USFS order and additional background information can be found on our website by following the links below:
- Food storage blog: https://www.greenmountainclub.org/protecting-food-bears/
- Bear aware blog: https://www.greenmountainclub.org/be-bear-aware/
- Food storage order press release: https://www.greenmountainclub.org/press-releases/