Increasing numbers of recreation users on national forest lands have contributed to the problem by increasing the volume of food waste at recreation sites such as campgrounds and picnic sites. In bear habitat areas, the increase of food waste becomes a powerful attractant to bears. Bears favor the different kinds of foods people eat—bacon, sausage, and canned fish, and especially sweets like candy, gum, and pancake syrup—over a healthier wildland diet.
The only way to keep bears away from food waste mixed in with the garbage is to bearproof the garbage containers. The most common dumpsters used in recreation areas are the frontload type that can vary in cubic yard capacity. Garbage dumpsters typically are designed for urban use where bears are not a problem. Urban-designed dumpsters are fabricated with light gauge steel and have flimsy lids made of very light gauge steel or premolded plastic. These materials are not designed to prohibit bears.
The SGRRD had experienced problems with bears foraging for food and tipping over the garbage dumpsters in the parking areas along the canyon. The SGRRD also had a different type of problem: vandals rolling dumpsters into the riverbed to make room for more parking. Steel stakes and chains were used to restrain the dumpsters, but the stakes failed to keep the dumpsters in place.
A related problem was the amount of time spent to unlock and lock padlocks used to restrain the dumpsters on one or more stakes. The frontload dumpster truck driver had to get out of the vehicle, unlock the padlocks, and remove the chains that restrained the dumpster. After the driver adjusted the dumpster, it was picked up by the frontloader forks. The driver then exited the vehicle again to padlock the chains. This process was very time consuming.
Another problem was keeping the dumpster lids locked to prevent people from disposing of large items such as mattresses, motors, old furniture, and other large household items. Only a small (24-inch-by-24-inch) access door was available for garbage disposal by forest visitors.THE SOLUTION: A BEARPROOF DUMPSTER
SDTDC worked with the SGRRD and Boxmaster, a metal fabrication company, to design and develop a bearproof dumpster to meet the needs of the USDA Forest Service. The bearproof dumpster is fabricated with 14 gauge steel with a peaked lid to repel rain and snow. It provides better access by tilting the door toward the users (see figure 1). The dumpster is fabricated in two parts—the bottom 2-cubic-yard box that holds the garbage and the lid that allows the garbage to be emptied into a garbage truck. The dumpster is mounted on two 2-inch-by-6-inch skids laid flat, which provides a strong and stable base. The dumpster is also closer to the ground for the convenience of the user.
The dumpster lid has a built-in gravity latch that keeps the top locked to the bottom until it is lifted by a frontload garbage truck and released for dumping (see figure 2). After the dumpster is emptied, the driver lowers the unit back onto a U-shaped pipe stand that locks the dumpster in place and prevents any movement (see figures 3, 4, and 5). Picking up the dumpster and emptying it into the garbage truck is done in one step while the driver is in the truck; the driver never has to leave the cab. The lid access door has a bearproof latch (see figure 6), and the door is rimmed with a continuous piece of round steel rod around the outside edge, which serves as a bear claw guard. The garbage access door is counterbalanced to meet accessibility guidelines (see figures 7 and 8).
Project Leader, Recreation Management
San Dimas Technology & Development Center
444 East Bonita Avenue, San Dimas CA 91773-3198
Phone 909-599-1267; TDD: 909-599-2357; FAX: 909-592-2309
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