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.