When we went through North Cascades at Newhalem, the signs said it was bear habitat, etc. I asked the campground host if they had a way to store our food, since we didn't have the bear barrel. He told me they hadn't seen bears in years. Couple days later, when we found cell coverage, my wife had a fit. She'd found a journal of a guy who'd actually seen a bear in the campground we were staying within 10 days of our arrival.
I was in that site in 2009. I overheard a ranger saying there were no bears in the area. At that point a tourist showed us a photo he had taken of a bear 500 yards away 30 minutes earlier.
pdlamb and irc, was this campsite Colonial Creek Campground in North Cascades N.P. (the last campsite on the west side before Washington/Rainy Passes?) We got that same line last year as well!
The good news is they finally got some bear boxes. I believe they were brand new for the 2011 season. The bad news (and we learn this after we already set up camp) is the bear boxes are all the way on the far side of the other loop.
They were so new that they're not marked on the map, so there was no way to figure this out beforehand. We only learned about their whereabouts after questioning the camp host. (We assumed that they would be evenly scattered through the entire campground as they are in Olympic and Glacier National Parks. Not so, obviously.)
But not to worry!
They haven't seen a bear in a camp in a while, says the host, who is safely ensconced in their metal RV.
Since we didn't feel like taking down camp nor hauling our odorous items 1/2 mile from where we're camping, what we ended up doing instead was store our needed items in the "utility sink room" in the bathroom building. The door opens outward, so a bear couldn't push the door in to get in. And the campground was pretty sparse so we weren't worried about other people going through our stuff.
My favorite "Don't worry about bears" story was at a commercial campground/RV park in the Swan Valley in Montana (Great Parks North Route, between Missoula and Glacier). When we asked the owner if we should be concerned about bears, he said "Oh, I wouldn't worry! I have seen one in camp since, oh, Tuesday." We locked up our stuff in the laundry room this time.