What Girdwood residents need to know about new bear-resistant container laws

GIRDWOOD, Alaska (KTUU) - Girdwood will likely become the first Secure Trash Regulation Zone in the Municipality of Anchorage, once the Anchorage Assembly passes a formal resolution at its regular meeting Tuesday.


The city has earmarked the Girdwood Valley Service Area as having a significant bear population. In 2018, one-sixth of "problem" bears dispatched by Alaska Fish and Game were killed for getting into trash in Girdwood.

All customers within this service area (see map attached at the bottom of this article) who utilize curbside trash collection services -- with the exception of temporary construction dumpsters -- will have until Aug. 5 to upgrade to bear-resistant trash containers.

According to the resolution designating Girdwood as a Secure Trash Regulation Zone, the municipality will be responsible for educating the general public about the regulations taking effect. They will publish the information in the Anchorage Daily News and the Glacier City Gazette; post it at the Girdwood Library, Community Room and Post Office bulletin boards; and note it at the next regular meeting of the Girdwood Board of Supervisors, scheduled for July 15. Municipal code enforcement officers will respond to complaints, so it will be up to residents to keep each other honest.

Alaska Waste Services is the only trash hauler operating in the Girdwood Valley Service Area. Community Outreach Specialist Laurel Andrews says she's excited for the Girdwood "test-run" to inform future regulations in the Anchorage Bowl.

"We're excited to get the ordinance going in Girdwood because it will be a great area to test-run the ordinance," Andrews said. "The goal is that everyone is on the same page, and we're going to work really hard to make that happen."

The municipality has identified Girdwood as a good place to start because over 85 percent of customers utilizing curbside collection services already have bear-resistant containers. This leaves less than 25 customers who will need to upgrade.

Under the new regulations, trash haulers have to supply the bear-resistant containers. Andrews says they’re five times more expensive than regular containers, meaning rates could go up.

“Our rates are regulated for residential trash, and based on cost of service,” Andrews said. “So as the cost of service goes up — as the bear cart expenses go up — as our rates are structured now, the rates go up.”

Andrews says Alaska Waste will meet with the Regulatory Commission of Alaska sometime in July to discuss these rates. Mike Edgerton, member of the Girdwood Board of Supervisors, says if rates do go up to provide bear-resistant containers, most residents can justify the expense.

“They’re more robust. They tend to get damaged less. They’re built to higher specifications,” Edgington said. “It’s beneficial to everybody. It’s beneficial to you if you are not attracting bears to your property. It’s beneficial to the community if we don’t have bears running around seeing trash as a food source. And it’s very beneficial to the bears themselves.”

There are trash regulations and fees for violations in place across the municipality, aimed at minimizing human-bear interactions. You can view those regulations here.

The assembly intends to identify new Secure Trash Regulation Zones September of each year.

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A map of the Girdwood Valley Service Area, provided by the Municipality of Anchorage.

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