Keeping Bear Valley residents
informed and involved.

Trash and Recycling

We at Bear Valley pride ourselves on on our exceptionally beautiful area. Part of that effort requires that as intelligent property owners  we take responsibility for our trash and yard waste. The other reality is that we have bears in Bear Valley, so it is important keep bears away from our trash. Please be a responsible and informed manager of your household waste and help keep Bear Valley beautiful. Thanks!

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Trash and Recycling

Bear Valley homeowners abandoned roadside pickup of garbage many years ago and now use a community dumpster on Creekside Drive just north of the school. This was done in the name of beautification; garbage cans tended to get tipped over by dogs, bears, and coyotes. Snowcats ran over snow-covered cans in the winter. Trash got strewn around. The dumpster site is officially a Transfer Station. It’s easy to forget that the trash doesn’t dematerialize after we drop it off; it still exists, and the community dumpster is just a bus stop on its journey.

The Bear Valley recycling dumpsters support a mixed recycling program, where you can recycle all plastics marked 1 through 7, glass bottles and jars, newspaper, aluminum, tin, plastic bottles, cardboard, magazines, office and junk mail.    There is no regular schedule for pickup of the trash or recycled material dumpsters.

  • Trash: There are two trash dumpsters. One of these should always be unlocked and have room, but if not call Terry Woodrow (209-753-2551) or the Sheriff’s Office (209-753-2321) and let them know. 
  • Recycling: There is only one recycling dumpster. If the recycling dumpster is full then you should bring your recycling back home and try again the next time you take our your trash.

Whatever you do, DO NOT leave your trash or recycling outside of the dumpsters if they are full. Please make sure your renters/guests know this as well.

The dumpsters work well during slow times when it’s used mostly by the full-time locals and regular visitors who are familiar with the setup. But things tend to go haywire during busy times when people use it who are less familiar with it. You can help by being a responsible dumpster user.


 Dumpster Rules and Etiquette

  • Dumpsters are for household trash only.
  • Do not put any of the following into the dumpsters:
    • Construction materials (or remodeling materials).  Make sure your contractors know the rules for Bear Valley dumpsters.
    • Hazardous waste (paints, oils, toxins, etc.)
    • Large appliances
  • If dumpsters are full you must take your trash and recycling home with you.
  • Do not leave any trash or recycling outside of the bins.  We are in bear and coyote country.
  • Flatten cardboard so that the cardboard bin does not fill up so fast.
  • Please respect other and the Bear Valley enrvironment

Bears in Bear Valley

The Bottom Line:  Do not leave food/trash of any kind outside of your house, or in your car, or visible from the outside. Bears make their living mostly by smell. Don’t leave smelly things out  (that goes for cars too) where bears can home in on them.

  • Don’t leave dog food on the porch.
  • Keep a clean outdoor barbecue.
  • Don’t leave anything with a strong smell out: laundry soap, perfume, any food, wipe-down rags.

California’s black bears have made a comeback in the last decade. Sightings and interactions with humans have become much more common. And while there is always an element of danger for humans, the real danger is usually to the bear when bears and humans interact. When bears learn that they can get food by hanging around people they lose their reluctance to interact with humans, and this is bad for bears and people both. For one thing, once a bear gets an easy meal from a garbage can or a back porch, it will come back for more, and it won’t take “No” for an answer. Bears are clever and VERY strong. Prying open a locked freezer is as easy for them as opening a box of Cracker Jacks is for you. The trunk or back seat of a locked car is no problem for a bear. The bear is so fixated on food sources that it will forever associate food with any place or object (car, house, garbage can, or person) where it ever got food, even once. That bear’s wild life is ruined with just one free lunch from humans, and there’s a good chance it will have to be captured and killed as it hangs around people’s habitations.

The danger to humans is mostly by way of property damage, but there’s always the potential for injury if a human gets between a mother bear and her cub, or gets between a bear and its escape route.

A curious effect of bears’ interaction with humans is that a bear that forages in garbage cans or is otherwise fed by people may have more offspring. The mother bear’s fat content partly determines the size of her litter, and a bear that lives on pizza and dog food will probably have more cubs than one that lives on nuts and berries. More mouths to feed…

Saving Bears and Saving Houses:

Until a few years ago, bears that hung around people and scared them were captured and relocated to the hinterlands of California. But there are no hinterlands left any more. People have filled every corner of this beautiful state, and relocation of problem bears is no longer an option. So any bear that is captured will have to be killed.

The biggest problem: GARBAGE. Mismanagement of garbage results in many unfortunate and unnecessary bear deaths every year, not to mention property damage. Never leave garbage outside, or even in a vulnerable area like a screened porch. Keep your garbage inside your house or condo until you’re ready to take it to the appropriate dumpster.

If you have a serious bear problem, call the Sheriff (911 if it’s an emergency). After securing your life and property, the Sheriff will investigate whether you did anything to attract the bear.

If you encounter a bear and you cannot gracefully retreat, or if the bear is wrecking your car/house/campsite, try to make a lot of noise; bang pots together, blow a whistle, yell. Stand up and try to look as big as you can but don’t make any move the bear might consider threatening. And never get between a mother bear and her cub. If you see a cub by itself, get away; there’s probably a mother around.

It takes a lot of will power, but if you really care about the bears’ welfare, you need to resist the all-too-human urge to interact with the bear. It’s natural to want to talk to the bear, get close to it, make eye contact, feed it. It goes against the grain to think that the best thing you can do for that bear is to LEAVE IT ALONE, but that’s the way it is. If you’re lucky enough to see a bear, admire it from a distance and count yourself privileged to see one of these beautiful fellow earthlings. Thanks for caring! Eric Jung June 2000

For more information on California black bears, go to

Yard Waste: What To Do With It

So you’ve raked up your yard to get the required 30/100 foot firesafe clearance (see Forest Management and Lot Inspection Information) and you’ve got all these piles of sticks and pine needles. Now what? Here are your options:

  • You can burn it in your yard. Contact the Bear Valley Sheriff/Fire Department (753-2321) for a burn permit and information on how to do it legally and safely.
  • You can pay the following people to haul it (these people will also do the whole cleanup for you): Joe Zibley, 209-753-2492; Sean Hammes, 209-588-9350; Mike Ratkowski, 209-795-4366; Erich Haas, 209-795-4331; Jason Comfort, 209-728-2152.
  • You can haul it yourself to the Red Hill Transfer Station between Murphys and Angels Camp. Take along proof that you are a Bear Valley property owner: a tax bill, driver’s registration with a BV address, etc.
  • You can pay someone else to haul it to Red Hill.
  • You can haul it to Calaveras Forest Products, a private operator in Camp Connell who turns it into mulch. They charge $6 per cubic yard. Their phone number is (209)795-6500. This is the best way to handle this material, from an environmental standpoint. Information on hours and location can also be found at

Please note that it is illegal to dump yard waste on common areas, or your neighbor’s vacant lot.

Next BVRI Board Meeting:

Date: May 19

Time: 4pm

Location: Zoom. Non-board members must register and request the zoom link, which will be emailed before the meeting:

Upcoming Events

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NOTE: The events listed here are not necessarily affiliated with BVRI. This calendar is provided as a service to the community. If you would like to list (or update) an event, please email