Steamboat City Council approves 1st reading of stricter trash rules to prevent wildlife conflicts
Steamboat Springs — When they become active again in the spring, the Yampa Valley’s black bears should find it harder to chow down on food in trash cans and dumpsters in Steamboat Springs.
Many Steamboat Springs residents also are poised to pitch in financially to help make sure that is the case.
The Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday night voted, 6-1, to approve the first reading of stricter trash rules that will require all residents who put their trash out to use an approved wildlife-resistant container.
City officials, local trash haulers and representatives from Colorado Parks and Wildlife think the new rules will go a long way to help prevent encounters and problems with black bears.
The three groups worked together to draft the new rules.
Area Wildlife Manager Jim Haskins said similar rules coupled with stricter enforcement greatly have reduced problems with bears in places like Boulder.
“If we’re going to solve the problem, this is the cornerstone,” Haskins said about keeping trash secured.
He also spoke about how difficult it is to relocate a problem bear from the community because there isn’t an ideal place nearby to take them where they won’t be likely to come back.
The council’s first endorsement of the new rules comes after a busy bear season for the city during which three bears were hit by vehicles and many more were the subject of calls to police.
Many of the council’s questions prior to approving the rules focused on the financial burden the rules would place on residents and how they would be enforced.
The city estimated the rules would impact about 2,500 households in the city.
According to the city, residents have options to purchase an acceptable trash container that range from $50 for smaller containers to $350 for larger ones.
They can be purchased either online or through their trash service.
Residents will have to check to see if the containers they get are compatible with their trash hauler.
Owners of several commercial dumpsters in the city also will need to reinforce the lids.
And the city is going to have to make some changes, too.
The city will pay an estimated $70,000 to $85,000 to upgrade between 85 and 95 trash containers in its parks to bear-resistant models.
Council member Sonja Macys called the proposed rules a “giant step forward” for the city.
Walter Magill was the only council member not to vote to approve the first reading.
He called the new rules “too expensive for too many people,” and he wanted to ensure residents would have an option to pay their current trash haulers to do a less expensive retrofit of their existing receptacles.
If approved on second reading, the new rules would go into effect April 1.
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