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Is this campground open? USFS says it’s closed, but some are using it anyway

Signs removed by people, technicality in reservation system causes confusion

(UPDATE: Adding video, comment from USFS official)

SUNRIVER, Ore (KTVZ) -- There's no barrier at the entrance to the Big River Campgrounds off Century Drive, near Sunriver.

There are a couple of tents and campers set up.

There's not much to stop anyone from camping there.

But the campground is closed.

"What we're seeing is a lot of the barriers get moved,” Lisa Machnik of the Deschutes National Forest said Wednesday. “Signs get torn down. Things get taken, things get destroyed."

Someone has ripped down the orange tape that's supposed to go across the entry to the campsite.

Looking at, the site make reservations for campsites, there are still open dates for the camp site.

That's despite the forest website listing the campground as closed.

In total, there are 10 closed campsites and four closed group sites on the Deschutes National Forest.

They are as follows:

  • Big River Campground
  • Big River Group Camp
  • Bull Bend Campground
  • Cultus Corral
  • Cow Meadow Campground
  • Fall River Campground
  • North Davis Creek Campground
  • Pringle Falls Campground
  • Sheep Bridge Campground
  • Reservoir Campground
  • Wyeth Campground
  • Contorta Point Group Campground
  • Simax Group Campground
  • Windy Group Campground
  • Scout Lake Campground

Machnik said the closures are because Deschutes Recreation is short-staffed.

"With the current health situation,” she said, “some of their typical folks that they would have staffing the campgrounds would be required to travel here, and made a choice that they weren't able to do so, or felt they were in a higher-risk category."

And the issue with the reservation system is that the campground is only in a "soft closure." Machnik said the dates are available, in case the campground gets enough staff to open.

If it doesn't, anyone with a reservation will receive an email notifying them of the cancellation.

"What people can do, when they get to a campground, if they have questions about the status of the site, if something looks off, the number for Deschutes Recreation should be on the kiosk at the site."

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Jack Hirsh

Jack Hirsh is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Jack here.


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