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Lassen Volcanic National Park Closes Backcountry Camping in Twin & Rainbow Lakes Area

Written by sierrarecmagazine

Mineral Ca – Lassen Volcanic National Park – July 13, 2020 – An area in Lassen Volcanic National Park is closed to backcountry camping due to black bear(s) obtaining food from campers. The closure extends one mile in all directions from the following lakes frequently accessed from Summit Lake Trailhead: Echo, Upper Twin, Lower Twin, Swan, and Rainbow Lake.

At least one black bear has obtained improperly stored food and/or scented items from backcountry campers. After multiple incidents, one or more bears have learned to associate humans and their equipment with a food reward. The bear has also been unresponsive to hazing by hikers. In one incident the bear boldly searched a campsite and gear undeterred by backpackers yelling and making loud noises nearby.

The closure is in place for 60 days to reduce negative human and bear interactions and provide the bear(s) with a period to return to normal foraging behavior before further action is required. The closure does not apply to hiking or stock use, however users are encouraged to exercise caution and be bear aware. Additional information and a map of the closure area are available at

Black Bears in Lassen Volcanic National Park – courtesy of NPS

All visitors can protect themselves and park wildlife by being bear aware. When hiking in the park: never leave your pack unattended, make noise to avoid surprising a bear, and be particularly alert for bear activity when near streams or vegetation. If you come upon a bear, walk away slowly―never run or drop your pack. More information about black bears and bear safety is available at

Backpackers are required to store all food and scented items in an approved, bear-resistant storage container while in the park. Canisters are available for rent at the Loomis Museum or Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center during business hours. Backpackers can view a list of containers certified by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) or learn more about backpacking regulations at

Lassen Volcanic is home to a population of approximately 30 black bears; there are no brown or grizzly bears in the park. Information about black bears in the park is provided in large part by visitor-submitted wildlife sighting reports. Please report wildlife sightings, especially any threatening behavior, to a park employee or by emailing e-mail us.

Visitors are also highly encouraged to continue to recreate safely by following California State guidance, practicing Leave No Trace principles, avoiding crowding, and avoiding high-risk outdoor activities. Learn more about how you can recreate responsibly at Lassen Volcanic at

For more information about Lassen Volcanic National Park, please visit; contact the park at (530) 595-4480 or e-mail us; find us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube @LassenNPS.

About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 419 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at, and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube @nationalparkservice. #FindYourPark

Location: Lassen Volcanic National Park, Echo Lake, Upper Twin Lake, Lower Twin Lakes, Swan Lake, and Rainbow Lake. This closure includes all the above listed lakes. The closure extends one mile from Echo Lake, Upper Twin Lake, Lower Twin Lake, and Rainbow Lake from the lake shores in all directions (see attached map).

Authority: Authority for this closure lies in Title 36 Code of Federal Regulations Part 1.5(a) Closures and public use limits.

Regulation: Camping and food storage.
36 CFR 2.10(a) The superintendent may require permits, designated sites or areas, and establish conditions for camping.
36 CFR 2.10(b)(9) Violating conditions that may be established by the superintendent.
36 CFR 2.10 (b) (10) Camping outside of designated areas.

NPS Policy: (NR Management 4.1)… “Park managers must also take action to ensure that ongoing NPS activities do not cause the impairment of park natural resources. In cases of uncertainty as to the impacts of activities on park natural resources, the protection of natural resources will predominate… Natural resources will be managed to preserve fundamental physical and biological processes, as well as individual species, features, and plant and animal communities.”

Be Bear Aware

Your actions help keep Lassen’s wild animals wild.When people do not take the proper precautions to protect themselves and wildlife, both bears and people are endangered. Your actions help ensure your safety, and the well-being of Lassen’s black bears. Download a printable bear safety handout (pdf, 1.5MB).

  • Avoid potential bear encounters on the trail by making noise to make your presence known.
  • Be particularly careful near streams, and when vegetation or terrain limits visibility.
  • In developed areas, always store food properly to avoid attracting bears, and never intentionally get close to a bear or attempt to feed it.
  • Use pullouts to view bears near the road, stay in your car, and keep a distance of at least 300 feet (100 yards) at all times.
  • As always, adhere to speed limits – speeding kills bears!

Bears and Food

Odors attract bears to campgrounds and picnic areas. Allowing a bear to obtain human food, even once, often results in aggressive behavior. Remember a fed bear, is a dead bear. Help keep bears wild and alive by following a few guidelines:

  • Properly store all odorous items such as food, garbage, food containers (empty and full), cookware (clean or dirty), toiletries, and bug repellent.
  • Secure storage locations include bear-resistant food lockers, or inside hard-sided vehicles with windows rolled up, or inside the trunk.
  • Only have food out that you are actually using;if you are not using it, please put it back in the food locker.
  • Never store food, garbage or toiletries in tents or sleeping bags.
  • Place all trash in bear-resistant garbage dumpsters.
  • Never leave your pack unattended.
  • Immediately report violations and all bear sightings to the campground host or the nearest ranger.

Please note that failure to follow food storage regulations is a violation of federal law and may result in a citation.

IGBC-Certified Food Storage Required

Overnight backcountry users must use a container certified by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) to store food and scented items. This regulation is in response to increased negative bear and human interactions in the park. Bear canisters are not required December 1 through April 15.

  • Food, toiletries, utensils, cookware, and other food-scented items must be stored in an NPS approved canister when not in use or unattended.
  • View a list of IGBC certified bear-resistant products here.
  • Bear Vault 450 and 500 canisters are available for at the Loomis Museum or Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center from 9 am to 5 pm daily in the summer season.

If you Encounter a Bear

Bears are territorial. If you surprise a bear at close range (less than 300 feet), you may be intruding into it space. Most bear encounters end without injury, especially if you follow some basic guidelines and remember that your safety depends on your ability to calm the bear:

  • Do not run! Bears can easily outrun you. Running may cause an otherwise non-aggressive bear to attack.
  • If the bear is aware of you but has not acted aggressively, slowly back away.
  • If the bear is unaware of you, keep out of sight and detour behind or downwind of the bear.
  • Stay calm and remember that most bears do not want to attack you, they usually just want to be left alone.
  • Pick up small children immediately and stay in a group.
  • Do not drop your pack! This teaches the bears how to obtain human food and often results in the death of a bear.
  • Do not climb a tree. All black bears can climb trees.

If a Bear Approaches or Charges You

Do not run! Most bear attacks result from surprise encounters when the bear is defending their young or a food source, such as a carcass.

  • Bear experts generally recommend standing still until the bear stops and then slowly backing away.
  • If you are attacked, do not play dead–fight back. Concentrate your kicks and blows on the bear’s face and muzzle. If you have bear spray, aim directly at the bear’s face.
  • Stay calm. Bears may bluff their way out of an encounter by charging, and then turning away at the last second. Bears may also act defensively by woofing, growling, snapping their jaws or laying their ears back.

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