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Trash container crackdown

Aspen Times writer

Dear Editor:The number and severity of human-bear conflicts in Pitkin County have reached an all-time high this year. Many of our local bears have learned to associate people and homes with food, have lost their fear of humans, and are roaming neighborhoods in broad daylight. These bears have learned to access trash from refuse containers and are actively seeking them out. This is unacceptable and we need your help.In 2001, Pitkin County enacted a wildlife protection ordinance, establishing standards for wildlife-resistant refuse storage in an attempt to reduce the availability of trash as an attractant to bears. Due to the available technology for refuse containers in 2001, as well as a desire to keep financial costs to county residents at a minimum, the practical standard for a “Wildlife Proof Refuse Container” (WPRC) became the 90-gallon rollaway plastic cart with modifications for latching and reinforcing the lid.The Colorado Division of Wildlife and Pitkin County have determined that the plastic rollaway garbage containers have failed as WPRCs as defined by the ordinance. All county residents and businesses must begin using approved steel bear-proof containers; steel curbside enclosures; or centralized, all-steel, bear-proof dumpsters or dumpster sheds. The only plastic, or “poly” cart that is acceptable are IPL, Inc.-brand, 95-gallon containers with steel reinforcements and locking mechanisms certified bear-proof by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee and Living with Wildlife Foundation’s Bear-Resistant Products Testing Program. The county’s ordinance requires this step because of the repeated failure of most other containers. Please note that containers that are not latched or overfilled are not bear-proof and constitute a violation of the ordinance.Pitkin County will prioritize enforcement in specific subdivisions and neighborhoods where there has been significant and repeated failure of refuse containers. These areas must begin using county-approved, bear-proof refuse containers as described above by Sept. 10: Aspen Airport Business Center, Aspen Village, Brush Creek Village, Mountain Valley, North 40, Phillips Trailer Park, Red Mountain subdivisions (e.g., Red Mountain Ranch, Ridge of Red Mountain, Pitkin Green), Redstone and all residences within a 5-mile radius, Snowmass Creek Road above Watson Divide Road (including Shield-O Mesa and Shield-O Terrace), Twinning Flats area, Upper River Road, Liberty Lane, Little Texas, Woody Creek, Lenado and West Buttermilk.If compliance with this notice and the county ordinance is not achieved within the designated time frame, a Notice of Violation will be issued. Penalties will be assessed according to the following schedule: First notice, a warning; second notice, $350; third notice, $1,000.The wildlife protection ordinance, bear-proof container resource list, and information on American black bears can be found at http://www.aspenpitkin.com/depts/33/bears.cfm. Visit the Living with Wildlife Foundation’s Web site at http://www.lwwf.org/ for more information on its Bear-Resistant Products Testing Program. For additional information, contact Pitkin County wildlife biologist Jonathan Lowsky at 920-5395 or Chris Hoffnagle, solid waste manager, at 923-3487. Jonathan LowskyChris Hoofnagle


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