JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska —
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson 673d Force Support Squadron, the agency charged with maintaining most base recreation sites, is adopting the National Parks Service waste policy – pack-in, pack-out – at four base lakes this year.
Airman of the 773d Civil Engineer Squadron will remove six waste bins at the request of 673d Force Support Squadron, from Green, Triangle, Fish, and Six-Mile lakes. Signs will be posted at the locations where bins once stood informing visitors to take out what they bring in.
“There’s a very tried and true adage when it comes to any kind of outdoor recreation - you pack out what you pack in,” said Tyler Glenn, 673d Force Support Squadron outdoor recreation director. “If you have a picnic or go fishing, whatever your adventure may be – you have to have a plan to bring things back with you and not just leave it.”
Careless and improper waste disposal led to the policy change at the lakes, Parks said. Nuisance wildlife ultimately puts people at risk.
“Unfortunately trashcans weren’t always closed all the way and bears eventually got in,” said Darryl Parks, 773d Civil Engineer Squadron chief of operations. “At times people were leaving their trash on top of bins when they were full.”
Someone who hasn’t been in Alaska for very long may not know about “trash bears.”
“[Bears] become accustomed to the trash accumulation,” Glenn said. “Then you get these trash bears and they know where to go and they become a recurring problem. We can try to relocate the bear but they eventually find their way back.”
Glenn assures users, the waste bin removal will not change other services offered at the lakes.
“We’re here to make sure people have the opportunity to recreate safely and responsibly,” Glenn said. “Inside the gates Outdoor Rec and all the FSS programs offer an avenue to do whatever you want to do.
“We want Otter Lake to be seen as a ‘staycation,’” he said. “Over the past couple years we’ve done some renovations with the lodging there. We’ve brought in some new boats in the past and are planning to bring more out there. We installed a new fishing dock which is Americans with Disabilities Act compliant – allowing people the opportunity who might not otherwise be able to. It’s in the back yard of JBER, and caters well to people like those new to the base who are not familiar with what to do Alaska. It’s the perfect starting off point in the summer.”