Montana Public Radio

Smith River State Park Food Storage Regulations Are Changing

Nov 20, 2015

Smith River State Park will be implementing some changes in food storage regulations for the coming float season.

About 5,000 Smith River travelers will be changing the way they carry their food and waste next year.

Bear safe food storage methods.
Credit Josh Burnham (CC-BY-NC-2)

The park was overwhelmed with bear incidents in the 2013-2014 float seasons, resulting in closing the whole 59 mile stretch of river for a week, and killing 8 habituated black bears. To avoid risks to both humans and wildlife, the 2016 season will require appropriate food storage.

There are a number of ways to do so, like hanging food and waste from trees, using approved bear resistant containers, and portable electric fences.

Smith River Park Manager, Colin Maas, says although these rules can be seen as a hassle, he thinks people will catch on.

“You know, I think it’s gonna be like anything new that the public has to change, make a change or adhere to, there’s always typically resistance at the beginning, but I think once folks find out it’s not going to be that hard for them to comply that we’ll get fairly good compliance.”

Instead of buying all new gear, Maas suggests getting a portable electric fence, which can be placed around traveler’s current food and waste storage units.

Applications to float the Smith can be sent in between January 4 and February 18.