Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest issues new food storage order to protect wildlife

If you’re lucky enough to visit, you’ll know how special Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is. From the deep river canyons, old growth forests, stratovolcanoes, and alpine ridges, it’s all worth preserving. This national forest encompasses and protects Washington State’s western Cascade Mountains from Mount Rainier north to Canada. The Pacific Crest Trail runs along the high mountains through the Forest from the appropriately named Bear Gap (mile 2331.6) to Suiattle Pass (mile 2554.6).

A pika screams “protect me” or something near Snoqualmie Pass, Washington. Photo by Ed Lyons

New requirements for storing your food will go a long way towards protecting the wildlife that lives here. You’ll help keep wildlife safe and wild by properly protecting your food, scented items, and trash. You’ll do so through carrying an approved food storage container on backcountry trips and taking the right steps while car camping.

By protecting your food, you’re not only protecting wildlife, but you’re also keeping yourself safe and ensuring that people behind you for years to come can camp safely without hassle and experience wildlife that’s wild – not human food habituated.

Carry a canister while on the PCT

It’s a best practice to carry a food storage canister every time you head out. On the PCT in the Cascades, there usually aren’t suitable opportunities to hang your food. This new order stipulates that hangs needs to be 10 feet up and four feet out from branches if you don’t use a canister. The trees up on the crest almost never have a branch structure that makes this realistic. This means that people on the PCT will need to carry a canister to comply with the new food storage order – it’s just the right thing to do, and it’s usually easier than trying to set up a good food hang.

All IGBC-Certified products are approved for use in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. This includes some soft sided bear resistant bags, many commercially produced hard sided canisters and more.

The “strategy” of guarding your food by sleeping with it is not allowed in this region, nor is it safe and appropriate anywhere on the trail.

A special emphasis on campgrounds and parking lots

Rodents, racoons, bears, birds, and more are actively seeking the food and refuse of campers and outdoors people. We’d like to emphasize the importance of protecting your food especially when you are car camping or parking at trailheads. Keep attractants locked away and out of sight and reach of wildlife. Many of you will be stopping at campgrounds on your way to the PCT or as part of your PCT experience, or just enjoying the beautiful Cascades – protect wildlife from your food every time you head out, everywhere.


Author: Jack "Found" Haskel

As the Trail Information Manager, Jack works to connect people to the PCT. He's involved with a wide variety of projects that help the trail, the trail's users and the community that surrounds the experience. He has thru-hiked (Pacific Crest Trail in 2006; Colorado Trail in 2008; Continental Divide Trail in 2010) and is an obsessed weekend warrior.