Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Bear-resistant Storage Containers Now Required in Blood Mountain (GA) Wilderness

Beginning March 1, 2012, anyone camping overnight along the five miles of Appalachian Trail from Jarrard Gap to Neels Gap on the Chattahoochee National Forests must bring a bear-resistant container to contain personal garbage, toiletries and foods. The new regulation was issued by the USDA Forest Service in response to public safety concerns and repeated bear-human conflicts in the region.

Bear-resistant containers trap odors inside, eliminating the lure of food, and they are designed to be tamper-resistant against extreme force. These containers can be purchased at most retail stores and online sellers that stock camping gear.

“We’re taking this measure to protect campers and make our campsites less alluring to the bears that live here,” Blue Ridge District Ranger Andy Baker said.

The storage regulation is mandatory for all dispersed camping in Blood Mountain Wilderness Area within a quarter mile of the trail, as well as camping at Blood Mountain Shelter and Woods Hole Shelter. It is a seasonal requirement—only from March 1 through June 1. Forest officials said black bear encounters have increased significantly in recent years in the Blood Mountain Wilderness Area. Bears become more active as the seasons and weather change. They are particularly attracted to human food brought into wilderness in the early spring when natural food sources are not yet plentiful. This is also the peak season for northbound Appalachian Trail hikers to begin their journeys.

“Any bear that associates people with food is a dangerous bear because it’s going to be aggressive,” Baker said. “By removing the lure of foods and other odors, we stop giving bears a reason to approach a campsite.”

Traditional food storage methods in the wilderness, such as “bear-bagging,” or hanging food bags between trees, will not be allowed. These methods are not always effective at preventing bears from retrieving food.

This seasonal camping restriction was developed in consultation with the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division.

Blood Mountain was designated as a Wilderness Area by Congress in 1991. Wilderness designation means the land has been set aside for permanent protection because of its intact natural ecosystems. The Forest Service manages it in a way that allows many recreational activities, but also provides some restrictions to protect the area in its natural state. Wilderness visitors are asked to practice the Leave No Trace ethic, a set of guidelines for minimizing their impacts including planning ahead, staying on durable surfaces, disposing of waste properly, leaving what they find and respecting wildlife and other visitors.

For more tips on how to protect yourself and also protect black bears when visiting the national forest, visit the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests website at or contact the Blue Ridge Ranger District Office at (706) 745-6928. Maps are also available.

The mission of the USDA Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. Encompassing around 867,000 acres across 26 counties, the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests provide the finest outdoor recreation opportunities and natural resources in Georgia. Featuring nearly 118,000 acres of designated wilderness; approximately 850 miles of recreation trails; and dozens of campgrounds, picnic areas and other recreation activity opportunities; these lands are rich in natural scenery, history and culture. The forest supervisor’s office for the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests in Gainesville manages four district units—Blairsville (Blue Ridge District), Lakemont (Chattooga River District), Chatsworth (Conasauga District) and Eatonton (Oconee District).

USDA Forest Service
Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests
Release: Immediate
Contact: Judy Toppins, Public Affairs Officer
Phone: 770/297-3061
Forest Supervisor’s Office
1755 Cleveland Highway
Gainesville, GA 30501

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Hiking Food: Chocolate Chip Chewy Granola

Laying on the desk atop a pile of used food wrappers is the blue and white plastic from a Sunbelt Fudge Dipped Chocolate Chip chewy granola bar. We've been meaning to post some reviews of hiking foods we've tested, so here's our review of what's become our favorite granola bar for hiking and at the office.

We really like these granola bars. They're preservative free and a 1.5 ounce bar provides 210 calories for 140 calories per ounce. Not as high a calories to weight ratio as Snickers or Butterfingers, but higher than many other popular hiking foods.

You'll want to keep these in the cool area of your pack until consumed as they are fudge dipped and the fudge gets quite messy with warming from a pocket or laying in a sunny spot on a table.

These granola bars aren't for everyone. The package warns for the following food allergies: soy, peanuts, almonds, eggs, milk and wheat. Also, other tree nuts may appear from time to time.

Give these a try. In this day and age when all the food makers are trying to see how low calorie they can go, its nice to discover someone making a good old fashioned high calorie food for hiking.

Disclosure: We select and purchase the product(s) reviewed. We have no material connection to either the manufacturer nor the retailer(s).