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‘Discover Your Forest’ resumes retail, visitor services

BEND, Ore (KTVZ) -- This Thursday, many sites within the Newberry National Volcanic Monument are reopening for public use in partnership with the Forest Service and the local nonprofit Discover Your Forest.

Openings including the Visitor Center, shuttle services up and down Lava Butte, as well as Lava River Cave. The Lava Lands Visitor Center parking area will remain open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily for accessing trails and Lava Butte roadway on foot or bike. 

After a hold on all volunteer and visitor services during 2020, Discover Your Forest is excited to connect to locals and visitors once again. With the opening of Lava Lands Visitor Center and Lava River Cave, the nonprofit organization can continue to offer visitor services, interpretive opportunities, retail operations, and conservation education to thousands this summer. 

As with years past, Discover Your Forest will work with the Deschutes National Forest to operate the Lava Lands Visitor Center, opening this Thursday.  The exhibit hall and theatre room also located in the Visitor Center will remain closed this year, but you will find a curated selection of books, souvenirs, educational items, an assortment of recreation passes, maps and more inside the visitor center. Your purchases fund conservation education and stewardship on the Deschutes National Forest. 

Please note that capacity will be limited indoors, and visitors will be required to follow the current Centers for Disease Control guidance for mask wearing and social distancing while visiting. 

Due to continued COVID safety efforts, we will not offer scheduled visitor tours and talks this season.  Instead, we will offer informal interpretation opportunities for visitors throughout the day. There will also be staffed visitor contact stations throughout the grounds where Rangers and volunteers can help answer questions and provide information. 

Beginning on Thursday, Lava River Cave will open for daily operations through Sunday, August 22nd.  The site will close on August 23rd for the rest of the season for construction activities to improve access to the cave. To mitigate COVID-19 impacts, staff will moderate parking lot and site capacity by intermittently closing the entrance gate for brief periods of time throughout the day. These closures will not be scheduled, and typically will only last 30 minutes. The entrance gate will close daily at 3:45pm. 

The shuttle bus to the top of Lava Butte will begin operations on Saturday June 19th, and run daily through Labor Day.  The bus will operate continuously between the hours of 10 am and 4:40 pm with one half-hour lunch break. Cost is $3 per person for a round trip shuttle from Lava Lands Visitor Center and the top of Lava Butte.  Capacity will be limited, so there may be longer than normal wait times and no personal vehicles may operate during shuttle season.

The shuttle is provided in partnership with Cascade East Transit and Discover Your Forest. Outside of the shuttle operating system, visitors may drive in personal vehicles to the top of Lava Butte when the Lava Lands Welcome Station is open.  Time passes for going to the top of Lava Butte may be acquired at the Lava Lands Welcome Station upon entry to the site.

Starting approximately in mid-August, parking at Lava Lands will be partially closed for parking lot repaving.  Following that closure, parking will be very limited until the end of season in October.

If you are hoping to visit Lava Lands this summer, please plan ahead and have a back-up adventure planned as we anticipate a very busy season. We appreciate your understanding that current guidelines are changing and fluid, and please note that requirements may continue to change throughout the summer as we adjust to operations during a pandemic. 

If you would like to find out more about Discover Your Forest and their impact in our community, head to their website at www.discoveryourforest.org

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