Tighter Rules In Wake of Ariz. Bear Attacks
Rangers are reopening several campgrounds northeast of Phoenix, Ariz., after several bear attacks. But there will be changes.
The campgrounds will have bear-proof Dumpsters, and visitors will get information on how to prevent bear attacks. Also, some campgrounds will not allow overnight camping or only permit camping trailers with hard shells, KOLD-TV, Tucson, reported.
Three people were attacked by bears in the Payson Ranger District during May and June, leading to a temporary closure of the Ponderosa, Upper Tonto Creek, Lower Tonto Walk-In, Christopher Creek and Sharp Creek campgrounds.
The following is additional information from the U.S. Forest Service concerning requirements for all open campgrounds on the Payson Ranger District:
- All open campgrounds will have bear-proof dumpsters.
- The campground concessionaire will continue regularly-scheduled bear talks and offer them Fridays and Saturdays at all campgrounds.
- All campers entering campgrounds will receive verbal and written bear communication information.
- Campground message boards will continue to have signage about heightened bear awareness.
- All campground hosts have bear air horns and are forbidden from leaving bear attractants outside their trailers.
- Visitors are prohibited from leaving bear attractants in their camping areas (such as in their tents).
- Routine patrols by Forest Service personnel will continue, and citations will be issued for campsites with uncontained garbage.
These are the campground requirements addressed by the current order:
- Sharp Creek will reopen.
- Christopher Creek will reopen: only hard-sided campers are authorized. The Christopher Creek day-use area will have garbage removed every evening by the host and will receive a bear-proof trash can.
- Upper Tonto will reopen: only hard-sided campers are authorized. Note: sites are small in this campground so trailers have to be short or only over camper type mounts.
- Tonto Walk-In (Lower Tonto): Remains closed to overnight usage (a tent camping campground only). Open 6 a.m. – 6 p.m.
- Houston Mesa/Horse Camp: Currently open.
Dispersed camping areas:
- 405/405A Dispersed Loop (including Bear Flats and Lower Tonto Creek): Open for day-use only (no camping): 6 am – 6 pm.
- Upper Tonto Creek Dispersed Area and Horton Trail Area (Hwy 260 to Hatchery): Open for day-use only (no camping): 6 am – 6 pm.
- Ponderosa Campground remains closed for the season.
- Christopher Creek campground is 19 miles northeast of Payson on State Highway 260. There are 43 camp units available with tables, grills, trash service and campfire rings provided.
- Sharp Creek campground is located 23 miles northeast of Payson on the south side of Highway 260, approximately 1½ mile east of Christopher Creek. There are 28 camp units available with picnic tables, grills, campfire rings and lantern holders provided.