View Full Version : Mount Adams Firetower\Bear Canisters

03-14-2004, 12:01 PM
I am the real Neil Woodworth, Deputy Executive Director and Counsel for the Adirondack Mountain Club. This is my first post to any Views From The Top forum.

Yesterday, the board of directors of the Adirondack Mountain Club unanimously passed a resolution which provides for the retention and maintenance of the Mount Adams fire tower after the balance of the 6000 acres is transferred to the state later this year for inclusion in the High Peaks Wilderness. The substance of the resolution is as follows:

Mount Adams Fire Tower Restoration

ADK supports a proposal to legally permit the existing fire tower to be retained and rehabilitated. Under the proposal, the half acre footprint of the fire tower would be retained by the current owner, the Open Space Institute (OSI), when the balance of the 6,000 acres is transferred to the state for inclusion in the High Peaks Wilderness.

ADK's intention, as approved by its' conservation committee, executive committee and board of directors, is to ensure that the Mount Adams fire tower is reconstructed, restored and maintained without any time limit on the duration of said maintenance activities. However, if there comes a time in the future when no agency or group is willing to maintain the tower and keep it in a safe condition for public use, the tower should be removed and the half-acre footprint be conveyed to the state for inclusion in the Forest Preserve. No other development would be permitted on the half acre retained by OSI. The hiking trail to the fire tower would be in the High Peaks Wilderness and maintained as a marked foot trail.

On another High Peaks issue, DEC is very seriously considering an emergency regulation that would compel the use of bear canisters for campers in the eastern high peaks, everywhere between Indian Pass and Route 73.

DEC ranger and wildlife management staff would like to put this regulation into effect for the summer of 2004. No decision has been made to date by the DEC Executive level leadership. I would be very interested in your perspective.

Neil Woodworth

03-14-2004, 12:43 PM
Hi Neil,

Great news on the tower. You put in a lot of work on this and your efforts should be applauded.

As respects the bear cannisters - This is an issue largely created by campers who don't keep clean camps, store food nearby or incorrectly, and leave garbage around. As you well know, bears are creatures of habit, especially as respects food. 1 season where they don't associate food with campers, and the problem goes away, SO LONG AS THE PROPER PROCEDURES ARE CONTINUED.

So, does DEC make everyone carry a bear cannister because some don't know what they are doing, or do the rangers crack down at the trailheads and at the interior campsites? I'd rather try a year of strict enforcement of proper food hanging and clean campsites than make everyone have to buy/rent/carry cannisters.
Fines, evictions, education might do the trick.
If that doesn't work, how about some cables where food, garbage and packs could be stached? They could be made inconspicuous.

Its just that I hate to see everything dumbed-down by the use of cannisters. IMHO, this should be the last resort, not the first.


03-14-2004, 01:05 PM

As an ADK Member, I would like to thank you and the Board and the Committees for taking this unusual and courageous approach regarding the Mount Adams fire tower. Kudos to you all for this sensible and thoughtful position on this piece of Adirondack history.

In regard to the bear canisters...YES! An emergency regulation (pending a permanent one) requiring canisters would address many negative issues currently facing this region. These include but are not limited to bear behavior modification, overuse, improvement of the litter situation caused by bear raiding and hikers in general, boosting of LNT practices, and education of hikers/users regarding their own behavior, to name a few.

I would suggest, however, a well thought-out and developed source for canister supply and provision. No, it's not up to the DEC, NYS, ADK, or any other group to provide this service, to be sure. However, given the numbers we are taking about here, it would serve all parties that users be able to rent or purchase affordable canisters at points of entry and regional merchant locations. Cost is not insignificant for many users, and supply may be a problem initially if this emerg reg is implemented. Also, rental options at ADK locations like the ADK Main Lodge, JBL, The Garden entry point, etc will, I think, benefit all parties. (Users can rent them or buy them at ADK locations to ensure compliance and the ADK can make a marginal profit to aid it's programs, including programs related to bears, education, and canister usage. Further, those who come to the region unaware of the reg can still rent a canister to meet their needs without turning around, ruining their plans, or trying to cheat the reg.) Perhaps a partnership with one or two of the manufacturers to provide discounts on volume expected by the implementation of this reg would serve users best and still be profitable for the canister makers. This would also ensure that the "right" type of canisters are used, thus avoiding the weekend warrior-type trying to pass his coffee can off to a Ranger as his "bear canister."

I could continue writing, however I'm sure others will offer thoughtful comments (on either side of the issue) as well.

(Oh yeah, I use a canister myself.)

Thanks for everything!


[After reading Peakbgr's post I must say I'm inclined to agree that alternatives should be tried first. However, we are getting to a pretty bad point and I'm not sure that we can solve the issue as quickly nor as easily without some more drastic (ok, not draconian) measures.]

03-14-2004, 06:44 PM
Yeeeeeeee hhhhhhaaa!!

I am thrilled to hear about Mt Adams!!
Thank you Neil and everyone else for doing the job right!!

I don't understand what's soooo bad about the bear canisters??!!

I can only see the benefits. What are the cons?

(It seems that everyone knows where to buy hiking gear etc. so now they can add another item to their overstocked supply of gear for hiking/camping!! Isn't shopping for gear only second to hiking and/or posting on VFTT??!!)

Thanks again!!:)

03-14-2004, 08:12 PM
Of course, it's a "Yea!" for Mt. Adams.

The bear canisters thing? I don't like it.

Then again, There are a lot of changes that I don't really like that have happened over the past 15 or so years.... But I understand them and accept them. And I realize it is probably for the best.

Nope, I don't like it, but I do support it. We don'T live in the same world we used to.

Doc McPeak
03-14-2004, 09:03 PM
Excellent news on Mount Adams, Neil. I have spread the word about Mount Adams and the pros of keeping the tower to several hundred people, so we all thank you.

In Yosemite, the bears were SO much worse than they are here, and the touristy once a year campers make the slobs who occasionally stumble in to Lake Colden or Marcy Dam seem like boy scouts. You probably saw the bears sneaking up and smashing out car windows, climbing on the roof and jumping on the trunk to pop it open, and harrassing campers into abandoning their food. It started as a minor problem and only grew. Well, this major problem that has been knocked back 75% and climbing because of a suberbly focused and diligent bear cannister/bear box policy.

Here's the real success, though. By enforcing this policy they way they have, as well as bringing in Karelian bear dogs and using some other Ranger led deterrents, an unforseen yet far more valuable result has occured. The campers of Yosemite have become some of the most educated bear-area campers in the world. Did they start with posters and camp-site enforcement? Of course. It didn't work because the people who are the problem just don't get it until you ram it down their throats. Sad. But, that's life and reality.

Band-aid approach or take the bull by the horns approach? What would be best for the region? Would the rangers prefer to have the policy in place so they could concentrate on other things? Would it produce similar results and cleaner camps like in Yosemite? Would people become more educated in the process?

Hopefully the people looking this over will do a bunch of research on what has worked and ask a lot of questions before proceeding.

03-15-2004, 08:58 AM
What's the big resistance to using bear canisters? They're an excellent deterrent to bear raids and will retrain the bears to find food elsewhere. I’ll sleep better knowing my food is safe and I’m not contributing to the problem. They are a little expensive to purchase, so perhaps some money could be set aside to subsidize their purchase. Of course, you can rent them for next to nothing if you don’t want to own one. Weight? Come on. Is 2 lbs. going to kill you?

I wish the problem didn’t exist. However, seeing the poor practices by many High Peaks campers, I think this may be the most straight forward and expedient way to solve the bear problem.

03-15-2004, 09:57 AM
My problem with canisters is they won’t fit in my pack. My normal weekend pack is 3100 cubic inches. I like to hike over peaks with a full pack. The weight issue doesn’t bother me, but the bulk of the canister does. I can fit a bear bag and hanging rope inside my cooking pot along with my stove, fuel, and matches. At this point I don’t camp in the Marcy Dam / Lake Colden area, not because of the bears, but because I don’t like to camp around a lot of people. The fact that I try to camp far away from other campers and avoid regular camp spots probably is the main reason I have had very few encounters with bears in the backcountry.

It is good to see that ADK has taken a stance in the preservation of the fire towers. Each one stand as a monument to the sacrifices the observers and rangers took to preserve the wilderness for future generations.

03-15-2004, 10:30 AM
I am so happy to hear of the preservation of tower Mnt. Adams. Two weekends ago my husband and I enjoyed crystal blue skies and a thermos of hot soup from the tower.

As far as the bear canisters go, I find them awkward/cumbersome. Having done many trips into flowed lands, which was overrun with bears last summer, my husband and I had no problems with food storage. The problems we witnessed with nearby campers was that they maintaind sloppy sights with wrappers, food and smelly clothes strewn about. I don't think canisters will cure these problems. Perhaps more tickets need to be issued to these campers who continue to be careless, thus causing problems for the rest of us!

03-15-2004, 10:43 AM
A few years ago I got laughed at for using a bear canister at the Slant Rock lean to. Hmm....... I wonder if they're still laughing now? I haven't had any problems strapping the canister to the back of my pack like I would a tent or a sleeping bag. It's just a matter of planning and adjustment, figuring out where you're going and deciding whether you need to carry one or not. Personally I like not having to fumble around and rig up a bear bag at the end of a long hike.

I also sleep better at night using a bear canister knowing that -
1. No creature (bear, raccoon, mouse, etc.) is going to be able to steal my food and spoil my trip.
2. I'm not contributing to a "bear problem".

I'm also glad about the Mt. Adams fire tower news and am now going to join the ADK as I promised in an earlier thread. Once I join I'd like to see about getting together with some of the members who are VFTT'ers and live close to NYC.

03-15-2004, 01:20 PM
My problem with bear cannisters is that they are bulky, aren't efficient for packing and add to the pack's weight.
My BIG problem though is cannisters are the easy way out.
For those of you who know how to properly hang food, keep food out of tents and packs/leantos, bears are big furry things that pass your by your tentsite.
So, if this reg is implemented, we all have to tote the cannisters into the backcountry so the few who don't know or don't care about keeping a clean site can sleep undisturbed at night ?
With a year of education, strict enforcement, tickets and fines, the word will get out. Lets try that first.

03-15-2004, 03:29 PM
THANK YOU to the "real" Neil and to the board of directors of the Adirondack Mountain Club for making us all proud members of "our" Club.

When is the first trailwork day scheduled for Mt-Adams "foot" trail?

In the meantime see you all on Mt-Adams Saturday March 27th.

Christine & Alex

03-15-2004, 05:16 PM
The ADK board’s decision/position re the Adams firetower is something to applaud. And I heartily applaud it.

Not to raise another issue, but what is ADK’s position on firetowers in other wilderness districts?


Now, on to the bears.

I’ve long been a believer that the bear “problem” at places like Marcy Dam, Lake Colden, Flowed Lands and in the Johns Brook valley is a product not just of human carelessness but also of bear nature. By nature, the bear is an opportunistic feeder looking for reliable supplies of easily accessible vittles. Thus the bear’s attraction to places like open dumps near town and backcountry campsites where humans frequently have left their goodies unattended and inadequately secured. The bear also has demonstrated a certain capacity to learn the ropes, so to speak, in dealing successfully with clever food bag hanging systems devised by mere humans.

There’s little we can do to change the bear’s nature. But we can do something about human behavior.

I have no affection whatsoever for the increasingly complex and sticky web of regulations that entangle us as we walk into the backcountry. Nonetheless, I reluctantly accept the reality that it is time for some kind of rule that requires adequate bear-proofing of campsites in the High Peaks.

It is important to look at this in a hard-nosed way. If there is going to be additional regulation, it must be effective in solving the problem it is supposed to address.

We must not view the bear problem and proposed regulations as a means to punish humans for slovenly behavior or to discourage people from visiting the areas in question, or as an avenue to generating revenue by the imposition of new “use” or “surveillance” or “permit” fees. In this case the measure of effectiveness cannot be how many citations are issued for non-compliance or a reduction in the number of visitor nights at popular sites or in the amount of fee money collected; the measure must be a demonstrable reduction in the number of bear raids on camps in the High Peaks. And it is as simple as that.

My strong suspicion is that requiring a “proper” bear bag hang is a hopelessly foolish errand. Simple education and the hope that people will use “proper” bear-bag hanging technique has not worked yet. If it had, the situation would not be at the point it is now.

So far, the one consistently effective means of keeping High Peaks bruins out of the larder seems to have been the properly designed and made bear-proof canister. So the impulse to require canisters probably is on the right track. Bear-proof lockers evidently have been used with success in the western United States, so perhaps installing those in heavily visited areas is a reasonable and responsible option. Lockers would be no more out of place than leanto shelters, privvies, bear poles and . . . bridges or other trail structures.

It seems to me that any such regulation is doomed to failure unless three conditions are met.

First off, any such regulation must be butt-simple. If you camp you must store your food in an approved canister or bear-proof locker. Period.

The second is that enforcement must be consistently aggressive and rigorous, and painful for violators. Enforcement of bear-proofing regulations will have to be a priority mission for the rangers. Staffing, field assignments and budgets must reflect this reality.

And third, it must be made as convenient as is reasonably possible for campers to comply with the regulation. This means that campers must be availed of reasonable notice (big signs at trailheads to supplement brochures, press releases, state web site postings, posters in outfitting stores, etc, should suffice) and that approved canisters or lockers must be readily available in adequate supply to accommodate prospective camper needs. Installation of bear-proof lockers at the more heavily visited camping locales would be a reasonable step and would eliminate excuses.

I also agree with Doc McPeak’s view that other means of discouraging bears from visiting camps should be investigated, considered and possibly implemented as part of the total campaign. Denying the bears their easy food and at the same time making it clear to the bears that approaching humans and their camps is likely to have unpleasant repercussions seems like a sensible one-two punch that might go a long, long way toward resolving the issue.

It will be tempting to take half-step measures and engage in temporizing on this, for a whole raft of reasons. Wouldn’t hurt to remember that’s largely how things got to this point. The old saying goes that if you keep doing the same old thing you’ll keep getting the same old thing. Making changes is not always effective -- the trick lies in identifying and changing the right same old thing in order to gain a preferred outcome.

Down off the soapbox, for a while now . . .


03-15-2004, 05:23 PM
A legitimate solution to the problem is to kill the bears. There are plenty of bears in the Adirondacks, and too many in certain areas. It will mean meat for someone; stuff the hyde for a museum.

Lockers are the best idea, and can be made to look onobtrusive. They can be built into Lean-to's. Properly built, they can last forever.

Save the Firetowers! Focus on Wakely next!

Thanks for checking in Neil!

My god! Another Bear thread!


03-15-2004, 05:29 PM
I think you nailed it!!!:D

03-15-2004, 07:00 PM

I would have supported lockers as a first place option if I felt they had a chance of being implemented. I'm concerned they will be more "non-conforming-structures", an issue like the summit cannisters.
Bear lockers would be a great alternative to portable bear cannisters, but I wouldn't be looking for DEC to budget any more money for education and enforcement, unless the fines for non-compliance could support the "educational" effort.

03-16-2004, 08:10 AM
I think hanging as a bear solution for the ADK's is effectively dead. Too many campers who use the cables, where provided, or otherwise properly hang their food still loose to the bears.

With the huge amount of people visiting the High Peaks, many who are unaware of the bear problem or don't believe it will happen to them I don't think that requiring bear canisters will make much of a difference to solving the long term problem. Considering the region has designated camp areas the installation of bear boxes appears to be the best solution: the laziest of campers will use them (it's easy) and hopefully the more arrogant will use them over a hang or store in the tent method. Exceptions have been made before for non conforming structures (outposts, lean to's), one should be made for bear boxes.

Either way, the problem will be with us for years. I'm trying to avoid the area in the on seasons. Oddly, finding ADK walking partners interested in the lower areas is more difficult. So it goes.

03-16-2004, 08:32 AM
Happy to hear about that Fire Tower. Not happy, but understanding about the bear issue. I'd say that before we jump off the cliff into the water, we should speak at length to those who've already succeeded in doing so.

The lockers make sense. Those who are already negligent about leaving a messy campsite will be easier to convince to put their food in the locker. It only takes one negligent person to make for a rough night.

03-16-2004, 08:55 AM
It seems that the rule makers have gotten themselves in a bit of a pickle.

It is unfortunate that lockers couldn't be considered because they would be "non-conforming structures."

What is the status of "TOILETS" (or as I recognize them - outhouses)??!

Seems to me that the BEAR LOCKERS could fit into the same category as TOILETS?

But then again it doesn't seem that logic is a big factor when the governing bodies make their rulings.........:confused:

03-16-2004, 09:12 AM
Originally posted by Peakbagr
I would have supported lockers as a first place option if I felt they had a chance of being implemented. I'm concerned they will be more "non-conforming-structures", an issue like the summit cannisters.
Bear lockers would be a great alternative to portable bear cannisters, but I wouldn't be looking for DEC to budget any more money for education and enforcement, unless the fines for non-compliance could support the "educational" effort.
Over the years I’ve learned it is a mistake to call for or openly support less than an optimum solution just because I believe there will be insurmountable resistance to it. To me, putting out a seriously compromised proposition before the real discussion ("negotiation") even has started is defeatist.

In this case, it's pretty clear that namby-pamby "education" initiatives and installation of cable systems and the like have been notably unsuccessful in addressing the growing High Peaks bear problem. The DEC evidently has decided that time has come to take more aggressive steps, and, according to Neil W, is considering issuing an “emergency” rule that would be effective this summer. I would guess that means we’re only a couple of months out from seeing that happen.

No doubt the DEC will whine about limited funds, and all that can be afforded is more bandaids. So my guess (realistically) is that bandaids is what we’ll get this summer (2004) -- a regulation and some ticket-writing while “further study” is carried out. I can’t imagine anybody really believing that imposition of an emergency rule and a little focused enforcement is going to solve the bear problem over the long haul. There is little doubt in my mind that once an emergency regulation is in place a permanent rule will be imposed before long. So I think this is the opportune moment to get optimized long term solutions on the table for serious discussion.

Here’s what we need to know right now: There will be no serious discussion of optimized long term solutions unless it is clear there is real support for them.

As an example, it's interesting how there does seem to be some support here for installing bear-proof lockers at popular camping areas, even though that was not mentioned as a possible solution in Neil W's original post. No doubt there will be (is) real opposition to the locker idea, inspired by a variety of motives. Many of those motives will be cloaked in the “non-conforming structures” argument.

Now, I don’t know what arguments might overcome that one, but I am certain that no counter proposition has a snowball’s chance in Hell of being sucessful if its proponents take a defeatist attitude and posture, and roll up their tents and go home before it gets a fair hearing.

With soapbox always at the ready . . .


03-16-2004, 10:52 AM
Just my 2 cents about the bear canister issue. I have always hung my food, and have been anal/hitleristic about maintaining a clean campsite, going as far as cleaning up after the morons who were there before me many times.

Staying at the leanto without a floor at flowed lands last summer, my hiking companions and I were entertained by a bear demolishing an improperly hung bear bag in the wee small hours of the morning. Our food was hung next to the bag that the bear got, but he couldn't get ours. We also had food in one canister on the ground which he didn't even touch.

I like canisters. I think they're a very effective way of keeping your food and denying the bears any treats. However, I like the option of not carrying a canister because they are bulky and heavy, and I know how to hang a bag that a bear can't get (using the cables of course...) I dont' want to be told that I need to carry a canister because there are too many people who are too dense to know how to keep their food safe.

I don't like the idea of the lockers for two reasons. One, they are a non-conforming structure as previously stated. Two, they would enable the overpacking people who I have come to know as the worst kind of slob (many of my friends are like this, hence my propensity toward fewer hiking companions...) to carry all manner of crap with them and just toss it in the box. It just seems like a bad idea all around.

Just my thoughts.


03-16-2004, 11:18 AM
This thread has been offering very thoughtful comments on canisters. The common theme seems to be that "I know how to do it right", whether it's regarding hanging bags or LNT or any other solution short of requiring canisters.

But look at it this way. Almost everyone who posts here seems to be a knowledgeable and experienced outdoors person. Many or most of us know what we are doing and how to prevent bear raids on OUR food or campsite. And most of us resent regulations on people such as ourselves.

Unfortunately, the majority of users of the High Peaks region are not so knowledgeable and capable. This forces us to examine solutions on behalf of these........people. Until we can educate these people en masse, or devise a better solution to the bear problem (many would say "people problem"), canisters seem to be the most sensible solution at this time. I, too, get tired of cleaning up other people's sites of their trash. (I just cleaned the Bradley Pond LT last 2 weeks ago and took out apx 5 pounds of crap!) But I haven't been able to change anyone's behavior. I hate to say it but we seem to be forced to dumb down the solution to benefit the greater good. Short of giving a bag-hanging test to those entering the region, the canister requirement should be tried so that it can be studied (I can hear Grumpy's groan now, hee hee!) for it's effectiveness in solving the issue.

03-16-2004, 02:45 PM
Good news about the firetower.

Concerning the bears.... I SOOOOOO want to vent, but I'll spare you all. Like DeadFred eluded to, I've never lost a bear bag... but it was almost humorous seeing the "pinatas" hung at Uphill lean-to last summer (c'mon people, at least make the bears work for it :) ). The problem I have with canisters is their bulk... during the "bear" season, I often bivy, which allows me to fit all my necessities within a day pack. That won't be happening if I have to carry a canister.

To be honest, the people who lose their food to the bears and the bears that take advantage of such offerings don't concern me. I don't interact significantly with either... they might as well be in a parallel dimension. Let 'em play out their game... it's amuzing.

Although carrying a canister is a small price to pay in the grand scheme of things, it's just one more regulation I have to, and will, obey. Just like other backcountry regulations, this a regulation for all meant to curb the behavior of the inconsiderate/ignorant few. Those of you who hike with well-behaved dogs (a vast majority) must hike with a leash for the inconsiderate few who let their obnoxious canines run and jump on anything/anyone. We must all fill out backcountry permits due to the inconsiderate few who hike/camp with too large a group. We need summit stewards to make sure the inconsiderate/ignorant few don't stomp on alpine vegetation. Alain's blood boils due to the inconsiderate few who bareboot in winter. How many others can we think of.... tearing down birch trees to make camp fires, leaving garbage in the woods, deficating near streams or campsites, and now feeding the bears. Regulations won't stop the inconsiderate... and ignorance is best combated with education. Oh, sorry... I vented.

03-16-2004, 02:55 PM
Hey rico,

VENT AWAY! You make some great analogies.

I esp like the one re: dogs. My dog doesn't need a leash (REALLY...she's a working dog and smarter than most people I know) but I'm forced to keep her on one because of all the bad dog owners and dogs out there that have created a problem.

I just like using a cansiter for the reasons that funky freddy lists. But it makes going light and fast harder with a canister. I find that having a buddy to carry it for you works best! ;)

03-17-2004, 07:43 AM
So, where would they be installed? At every lean-to and designated campsite ($$$$) or only at Marcy Dam, Lake Colden, and Johns Brook area? Do you make the assumption that people who camp outside of these areas know what they are doing? Wait, maybe add Flowed lands and maybe split rock. Oh yeah, and the Orebed and Wolfjaw lean-tos.

They're expensive, and expensive to install. It's not like you can drive a truck there and drop it off. Helicopter drops? to multiple locations? Expensive. Getting humans to haul them in on their backs?

Then you have the expense of having someone go in, set them up, etc.

So where does this money come from? How about charging for camping permits? After all, they are providing an 'improved campsite'

On the other hand, imposing a rule requiring canisters costs very little.

Consider this. Put it to a vote to the general population of the state. Would the average man on the street want to pay to make YOUR pack lighter?

03-17-2004, 10:16 AM
The news regarding the firetower is great indeed. Nice work sir, and I appreciate you making this information available to us on VFTT.

My take is that it is unrealistic for the DEC to put the bear cannister rule into effect for 2004. I don't know where to buy one, or how much they cost.

I think the DEC should target this rule implementation for 2005 at the earliest.

03-17-2004, 10:37 AM
Here is one link for bear canisters.

Bear Canisters (http://www.wildernessdining.com/bearcontainers.html?OVRAW=%22bear%20canister%22&OVKEY=bear%20canister&OVMTC=standard)

To the point about weight and size challenges...I sure wish they would manufacture a half-size model for solo hikers that would still hold 2-5 days worth of food but be smaller and lighter. Any canister manufacturers listening?

Oh yeah...this link also has a carrying case for sale for those who have asked about ease of transport. I have found that strapping mine to the outside bottom of a daypack is not that problematic. It's even easier with a larger pack. Otherwise, try this carrier they sell specifically for the canisters.

[Neil, I hope I'm not co-opting your thread TOO much with my various posts on this issue. I just find the issue very interesting and want to provide information regarding the options. With good intentions, Fred.)

03-17-2004, 03:41 PM
>>Yesterday, the board of directors of the Adirondack Mountain Club unanimously passed a resolution<<

neal... is this the final word, or just the word from one club? aren't there others that have to change thier opinion on the mt. adams tower's fate also (like APA, etc.)?

03-17-2004, 05:01 PM
When and where do we sign up to do some trail work on Adams? It was my first real mountqain and is only about a few miles away from my familys cabin so I have no excuse not to help.

I haven't seen a map of the acquisition for a while so I can't remember the borders of the territory; will some new trails or connections to old trails be opened up?

As for bear canisters I can't imagine fitting one into my Ghost or even hanging one on the outside. I have always done my best to keep odor down using ziplocks for food and trash awith multiple stuff sacks and prudent hanging. Avoiding the big campsites is another option but not open to everyone. Could one of the ursacks do the same job as a hard canister?

ALGonquin Bob
03-18-2004, 12:10 AM
Great news about the fire tower.

But regarding the people & bear problem: If some kind of food locker is installed in camping areas, who will haul out all the trash that will be left in them by the same slobs who contribute so much to the problem now? And I certainly wouldn't want to sleep in a lean-to that has a locker full of "bait" attached to it. Food should be stored away from lean-tos and tents regardless of what you put it into. Do you not put your food canisters well away from your tents when you camp? I used "bear canisters" on my last 3 or 4 trips before Winter came along, and I will continue to do that. The canister fits nicely inside my old, and not that big backpack. If there is any room left after my food goes in, I stuff it with other things to use up the space. I don't think, however, that I want a regulation that MANDATES the use of canisters. How about a "no smoking" rule in the High Peaks? Just kidding...

Oh yeah... Food canisters are useful in Winter too. A Pine Marten made off with some of my rations just 3 weeks ago. -ALG

03-18-2004, 12:57 AM
As Fred said, Kudos to you all for this sensible and thoughtful position on this piece of Adirondack history. It's on my list to visit and I'm so glad the tower will be there. Thanks for posting, don't be a stranger.

What bear?

03-18-2004, 01:39 AM
Bear canisters have a minimum size below which they become ineffective, as a bear can then pick them up in its jaws and walk away with it. The weight of the canister is limited, as it must be over this certain size, and must be able to withstand the attentions of what could be a 600 lb. bruin.

I have a Bearikade Weekender:
It fits in my Mountainsmith Ghost, weighs 1 Lb., 12 oz. and has survive at least two bear attacks in the Adirondack High Peaks with nary a scratch. It is the lightest--and most expensive--bear canister commercially available. Because of improvements made to satisfy national park requirements out west, the current canister has gained 3 oz.,

porky pine

03-18-2004, 07:36 AM
Originally posted by Pete_Hickey
So, where would they be installed? At every lean-to and designated campsite ($$$$) or only at Marcy Dam, Lake Colden, and Johns Brook area? Do you make the assumption that people who camp outside of these areas know what they are doing? Wait, maybe add Flowed lands and maybe split rock. Oh yeah, and the Orebed and Wolfjaw lean-tos.

I would start with the Marcy/Flowed/Colden area as a test- I wondered if bear lockers would wind up being trash cans even as I wrote my last post. If it works then continue the installation as needed.

As for the money issue, the current bear problem has to be costing something- two bears were destroyed last year if I recall correctly, there has to be some cost associated with that. Granted, not as much as a full fledged bear locker program. It's likely that the bear problem will become more expensive on the DEC's part as it worsens.

Put as lighten a pack vs. instituting a regulation about everyone would choose the reg. But, that's not the only way to frame it: very effective measure vs. somewhat ineffective measure would bring a different choice.

I would have no problem with parking or permit fees if the money went back to the area or the DEC. The Whites seem to be benefiting from such a program. However, I was not taking funding into account when stating my opinion, I was choosing what I felt would be the most effective.

03-18-2004, 08:53 AM
Pete: good point. I'm a QA guy, long on seeing problems, short on solutions.

Bearikade: $195? I can't afford that. A can bearly afford to get to the mountains. I am thinking of going with the Bear Vault (http://www.rei.com/online/store/ProductDisplay?storeId=8000&catalogId=40000008000&productId=47830865&parent_category_rn=5760752) and only have mild concerns with the closure system used. In any event, I know I'll need one before summer comes around.

03-18-2004, 09:34 AM
A little more information on the proposal for mandatory bear canister use in the eastern High Peaks.

DEC expects to go forward with regulations to mandate the use bear canisters in the eastern High Peaks. They have decided not to try and promulgate emergency regulations for the summer season of 2004.

They hope to conduct an educational process this summer and strongly encourage the use of bear canisters this year, complete the regulation adoption process this fall so as to be in a position to enforce a mandatory bear canister use provision in the summer of 2005.

Some in this forum have asked the position of some of the other players in the political process on the Mount Adams fire tower issue. ADK and the Resident's Committee to Preserve the Adirondacks have adopted positions supporting the retention of the tower. The Adirondack Council is opposed to retention of the tower. I am unsure of the current position of the Association for Protection of the Adirondacks. The Adirondack Park Agency has not yet addressed the issue. My hunch is that the Department of Environmental Conservation will be supportive but they have not taken an "official" position yet.

In response to Grumpy's question on ADK's stance on other fire towers in Wilderness, Primitive or Canoe areas - In accordance with the Board of Director's policy supporting the provisions of the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, ADK supports the removal of fire towers as non-conforming structures in Wilderness, Canoe and Primitive areas. The only fire towers remaining in these classifications, St. Regis Mountain and Hurricane are located on mountains which have good views without ascending the tower. I hope this answers the question.

Neil Woodworth

03-18-2004, 02:00 PM
I'm glad to hear (read) that DEC decided not to promulgate emergency bear canister regulations for the 2004 summer season. My concern is the wording of any such regulation.

I can't imagine how the regulation would be worded to avoid vagueness. I assume that the regulation will target overnight campers, but what about day hikers - do they need to carry bear canisters? How about the elderly couple strolling to Marcy Dam to enjoy the views and a picnic lunch - do they need to carry a bear canister?

And then there are enforcement issues ....

03-18-2004, 04:31 PM
Actually, a regulation may already be in place to address the bear problem. NY State Part 190.13 regulations say, in part, that no person in Adirondack wilderness areas shall

“. . . fail to take reasonable steps to keep food, food containers, and garbage from bears, such as the use of bear proof canisters or cable or rope hanging systems . . .”

Being a stick-in-the-mud type, I’d argue that if a bear gets at your stored food you failed to take “reasonable steps” to keep it from bears, and that you could/should be cited for violating this regulation. But then, I'm not one of the DEC honchos or rangers, either.

Since the wording of the reg does seem to imply camp food storage, you might be off the hook if a bear decides to grab a Spam sandwich out of your daypack or hand as you sit down for lunch somewhere. I'm sure hoping my own experience in the summer ahead won't serve as a "test case" on this!


03-18-2004, 04:35 PM
... is littering. Has anyone ever bushwhacked around Flowed Lands? There are little cahe's of junk around, from years of bears grabbing bags.


03-18-2004, 04:49 PM
I bought the Bearikade because of its very light (relative) weight; I figured that that was why I was paying the $200 it cost. It is hardly the be-all and end-all. It is, however, one of only two canisters (along with the Garcia) that has earned full approval in several western national parks:
Prior to purchasing the Bearikade, I had bought the Ursack:
which had "provisional" approval at the time. I used it without incident in areas other than the eastern Adirondacks for a few years, but it eventually proved totally ineffective while camping at Duck Hole last September. A bear tore it open and devoured its contents (including my toothpaste) in less than fifteen minutes. My hiking parner's Ursack met the same fate later that same night. Ursacks are no longer approved in western national parks.

The BearVault may eventually prove to be an effective bear-resistant container, but it may also prove a failure. Then you will be left with an expensive, bear-chewed piece of useless plastic. That's what my Ursack turned out to be. Caveat emptor. For about the same money and weight as the Bearvault, you can get the Garcia, which already has a proven record. See:

You can also both the Garcia and Bearikade canisters from various venues, if you're unprepared to make an outright purchase,

porky pine

03-18-2004, 04:58 PM
In case of rain we always carry a couple of "green" garbage bags with us. Last year on two separate occasions we walked back and brought home one half full, the first came from a "dump" near the water not very far from Avalanche Lean-To and second from a area near Lake Colden. The third time we encountered a large amount of litter, it was early Falls and as well near Lake Colden, this time not willing to again walk out with somebody else's trash we gave the bags to the campers nearby so that it will be easier for them even though they did not seem that interested even after admitting that what the bear had spread around was originaly theirs...

Since we cann't pick flowers or retrieve summit signs...

03-18-2004, 05:29 PM
Grumpy touched on an interesting point. As part of the same regulation change that would require the use of bear canisters, DEC would like to amend NY State Part 190.13 regulation by deleting the word "reasonably" from the following:

No person shall [ reasonably] fail to keep food, food containers, and garbage from bears.

I am concerned about this change. I think that if you use a bear canister or cable system faithfully and still lose your food to a bruin, you should not face a ticket. If you are surprised while your food is out during dinner, you should not face a ticket.

By the way, my guess is that the bear cables will come out of Lake Colden and Marcy Dam in favor of the bear canister approach.

I am interested in your thoughts, this will be an issue in the fall regulatory process.

Neil Woodworth

03-18-2004, 09:29 PM
Originally posted by ADKEsq
I am interested in your thoughts, this will be an issue in the fall regulatory process.

Judgment calls are a pain. How does a ranger judge that 'reasonable' steps have been taken? Judgments lead to challenges. This seems more and more to be the way the world is headed, not just the DEC.

Canisters are nice clean and objective. You have an approved canister or not.

Canisters have been shown to be an effective solution in many places. They WILL work.

I don't like the concept of bear lockers or permanant devices. They're fine in car-camping areas, but don't belong in the interior.

Yeah, be real careful with the wording. We all know what the intention is, so there shouldn't be any problem.

Them's my 2 cents

03-18-2004, 11:58 PM
Being a "black/white" type of person...I agree that wording is important.

A 'seasoned' veteran who loses food v. a total novice... still adds up to a bear getting food and I think that, when it comes down to it... is the crux of the problem/concern.

As Pete mentioned...and to paraphrase....canisters work. Outside of kitchen etiquette, they are almost 'dummy' proof...although I am sure people have some stories.

Initially I think there will be some natural resistance but in my travels to Alaska, Canada and out west it is common practice to pick up canisters at Ranger stations.

I will add that I don’t do a lot of backpacking in the ADK’s, my first trip was less than 3 months ago…however, FWIW, I commend all on this “debate” and being a ‘lurker’ on VFFT…have found it very thought provoking and educational.

03-19-2004, 07:20 AM
Ahhh. After my above post, I remembered one group who would be seriously effected by the a canister requirement. The ADK pro trail crew. They do NOT take low volume food. (eg 6-8 loaves of bread). They do hang their food very well, BTW, however if a required canister rule comes into effect, they will either have to bring a LOT of canisters, or change their style of eating, when in the HPWA.

A similar thing happened to us (46ers trail crew) when reduced group size restrictions came into effect. This has an effect on some kinds of projects (eg sidecutting) where a larger group can work effectively.

03-19-2004, 08:56 AM
Implementing a bear canister requirement would not be without some logistical hurdles. However, we should be able to look at the hiking areas out west that require bear canisters and learn from them. How do they deal with violators, day hikers, large trail crews, etc? Is the nature of hiking/camping out west so different that we can’t model our program after theirs?

03-19-2004, 09:12 AM
In my opinion, 6 NYCRR 190.13(f)(3)(xiv) is worded just fine. Enforcement of that section is needed - not more regulations.

However, if more regulation is deemed necessary, rather than making bear canisters required in the Eastern High Peaks Zone, generally, I would prefer that the regulation make bear canisters a requirement at specific designated campsites (i.e. Marcy Dam, Lake Colden, Flowed lands, etc.). Thus, the problem areas are targeted and, more importantly, unintended restrictions on other users can be avoided (i.e. trail crews, day hikers, etc.).

03-19-2004, 09:39 AM
Those who promote the idea that a bear canister regulation should be applied just to certain areas, (Marcy Dam, Lake Colden, etc.) where bears are a particular problem now, should consider the nature and history of bears in the High peaks and Adirondacks in general.

These beasties are opportunistic camp raiders (that is, they will seek chow where it is available). Bears also are quite capable of covering considerable territory in making their foraging rounds. So if we successfully choke off the bears’ food supply at Marcy Dam (etc.), the bears will move elsewhere to do their raiding.

I would hope the goal(s) in any canister regulation is to put an end to camp raiding by bears, put an end to close bear-human encounters, and to put an end to the litter that marauding bears leave in their tracks. That means cutting off bear access to campers’ vittles everywhere throughout the High Peaks. That is what will cause bears to disperse throughout the entire region and become "natural" creatures once again. Moving the problem around is not an acceptable goal.


03-19-2004, 09:53 AM
Some have suggested here that they will be required to carry a canister for day hikes. While I certainly am not the definitive authority on the regulations (as they are currently written, or the new proposed regulations to carry canisters), I would think if you abide by those regs on a day hike ("...no person shall fail to adequately protect food...blah blah") that you'll be ok. Now, if you set down your pack to go to a swimming hole and get raided (I know this has happened to day hikers before) you'll be breaking the reg. But if you do your day hike and keep your pack on your back and keep it with your person when taking breaks, hanging on a summit or eating, then using common sense, you'll be fine without using a canister.

03-19-2004, 01:34 PM
G's comments are well taken. In fact, I do not disagree with G's analysis, nor do I disagree with the appropriateness of the "goal" of the proposed Bear Canister Regulation ("BCR"). What I am advocating is an approach to promulgate and implement such a regulation, to include an evaluation of the results of the implemented regulation before additional regulation takes place.

In other words, rather than promulgating and implementing a prophylactic BCR as the next step to control the bear problem (e.g. bear canisters required by all campers in the Eastern High Peaks), I advocate a less restrictive approach - at least initially. That is to say, initially implement a BCR that's relatively less restrictive (e.g. bear canisters required by all campers at March Dam, Lake Colden, and Flowed Lands). Should the results be satisfactory (the measure of success is a separate issue), the regulation is a success. However, if the results are less than desirable, then DEC can amend the regulation and make it more restrictive (e.g. bear canisters required by all campers in the Eastern High Peaks).

03-19-2004, 02:12 PM
Marcy Dam

Sorry, couldn't let it pass...

03-19-2004, 04:19 PM
... but you don't like camping anyway! C'mon!


03-20-2004, 09:25 AM
Yes, you're right, $75 is NOT inconsequential. Luckily there are alternatives to all of us going out and plunking down 75 smackers for a bear canister. Last summer, I rented one from EMS. 5 bucks a day wasn't too steep for me. Due to my schedule, I'm mostly a day-hiker, with 3-4 multi-day overnight hikes during the summer thrown in, so I don't see buying a bear canister as being too cost effective for me. I'm sure the Mountaineer rents them too.

I must agree that they do make a good seat/table when I'm eating too. I just hate the weight.

And what are you doing putting up your bear bag after dark anyway? Shame-shame.

Doc McPeak
03-20-2004, 10:08 AM
I believe there are a few national parks out west that provide the bear cannisters free, though I think you pay for the camping permits. Yosemite could afford to put in the tons of bear lockers spread around the park because every car entering the park plunks down $20 bucks per week for entrance. Therefore they have the cash for such programs, as well as keeping a solid crew out cleaning sites and checking the containers for garbage. But it's also Yosemite, and there is usually competition to get work there. I was amazed with how spotless this overcrowded park was.

I agree with some others that the Adks are a unique situation in that we don't charge any money for the pleasure to hike and camp here, so our options are therefore limited, especially in today's age of shrinking budgets.

I initially thought bear boxes could be great... but they will probably end up being trash cans, and until we have de-polymerization privy units (in fifty years you will dump your garbage into the privy and it will be turned into the gas you use in your stove), so a widespread container plan may not work nearly as well as out west. Unless of course we start charging for camping so we can hire clean-up crews.

As far as containers (I have one and don't like the weight but use them on the majority of my overnights... and I know how to hang a bear bag and have never been hit by bears and blah blah) I don't see why the DEC can't bargain for a bulk price or special order, and maybe divert some of the funds designated for the program to subsidize the cost and offer them at a substantial discount. I think people would be more inclined to buy one of these for $25-45, and the program would be off and running.

Again, the more ideas presented and explored, the better chance we have at coming up with the most effective and painless plan for handling some of these problems in our high traffic areas. And the sooner they are implemented the better. I'm afraid of a couple of band-aid treatment failures followed by Draconian gauntlet style response.

And with spring erosion season coming, let's start talking up some great alternatives to hiking in the high peaks, before a BAN has to be imposed on the trails up there. I'll be exploring some of the firetowers and doing some bushwhacks until the trails harden up in June.

03-20-2004, 11:39 AM
Someone pointed out that bear canisters make a nice seat, and this reminded me of another factor in their favor. Since bear canisters are pretty easy to open and close, it's common to keep all the food that you dont' need locked up, even in your cook site. If you get raided by a bear during dinner (and they have learned to time their raids to dinner hour), you will loose only what you are cooking and not your whole stash. With a bear bag, it's questionable whether you will have enough warning and/or time to get your bear bag back up into the trees.

I suppose you could take out what you need for dinner and rehang the bag, but personally, I need to get things out of my food bag several times during meals.

04-18-2004, 06:39 PM
massachusetts still has 57 firetowers standing - i guess they have no "designated wilderness" there and aren't as quick to tear them down - - they once had 92 firetowers in mass.

by the way - there is a book out listing all the firetowers that are still standing (and the ones that are gone) in new york - there are 45 that have public access (and a few more on private land) - who wants to be a Firetower 45er?

here is a n.y. website

here are some more