PHOENIX - Officials announced on Wednesday a modification of campground closures after three bear attacks near Payson in May and June.
Ponderosa, Upper Tonto Creek, Lower Tonto Walk-In, Christopher Creek and Sharp Creek campgrounds in the Payson Ranger District were closed in response to the attacks.
The modified closure goes into effect immediately.
“Extensive ‘Bear Aware’ educational efforts and warnings to the public to take extra precautions while camping this year will continue,” said Rachel Hohl, district recreation specialist. “More bear-proof trashcans have been ordered and will be installed when the district receives them,” she added.
Hohl also said that "with the increased live fuel moistures, we should have improved vegetation production for the bears.”
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 camps with uncontained garbage.
The following are the campground requirements addressed by the current order:
Sharp Creek will re-open.
Christopher Creek will re-open: onlyhard-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 re-open: 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 am – 6 pm.
HoustonMesa/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.
See next page for 'Bear Aware' tips for campers and others