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COVID-19 closures: national forests, BLM recreation sites, Deschutes-John Day rivers


But BLM notes trails, open spaces still available, with proper precautions

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- To align with Gov. Brown’s executive order directing people to stay home to save lives, the Deschutes and Ochoco national forests and the Crooked River National Grassland have temporarily closed all developed recreation sites, to include campgrounds, day-use sites, boat ramps, trailheads, Sno-Parks, fire lookouts, and OHV areas. 

These recreation closures are necessary to address social distancing guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control, align with Oregon State Governor Kate Brown’s Executive Order to avoid unnecessary travel, including travel for recreational purposes, and reduce pressure on emergency services in local communities. 

Campsites, fire lookouts, cabins, and picnic sites reservations also are unavailable through  Existing reservation holders will be notified via email and/or cell phone text messages if there are any changes affecting their reservation.  Refunds will be issued for cancelled reservations.

As we work through this unpredictable and rapidly changing situation, health and safety is our number one priority.  We are committed to continuing to support our communities, local emergency services, and fulfill our mission as we all work together to minimize the impacts and spread of COVID-19.   

Forest Service offices across Central Oregon are currently conducting public business by phone, email, or web-based transactions. 

The National Forests and National Grassland will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and evaluate potential impacts to the forests.  To align with Oregon state public land agencies, the recreation site closures will remain in effect until such time as the closures are re-evaluated based on new conditions or a new order from the Governor’s office. Please remember to review current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and focus on protecting yourself, your family, and your community.


In response to current public health concerns, many access sites have already been closed or will be closed soon on the Deschutes and John Day Rivers. To ensure the safety of boaters, the Marine Board will be temporarily closing stretches of these waters to all boating beginning on Saturday, March 28, 2020. These restrictions are scheduled to be in place through April 30 and will protect boaters from entering a river system where the availability of access and take-out points is uncertain.

All boating activities on the Deschutes River will be restricted from the Pelton Dam (River Mile 97) to its confluence with the Columbia River near Biggs Junction. The temporary closure on the John Day River extends from the mouth of the North Fork John Day River (River Mile 184) in Kimberly, downstream to Tumwater Falls, approximately 10 miles from the Columbia River. In both rivers, both motorized and non-motorized boats will be restricted.

The Marine Board will continue to work with its partners to safeguard boaters during these challenging times. We are also committed to ensuring consistency between boating regulations and other local restrictions necessitated to help slow the spread of COVID-19.


Despite facility closures, millions of acres of BLM-managed public lands across Oregon remain open to enjoy, as long as you do so responsibly

Portland, Oregon – The health and safety of our visitors and staff remains the number one priority of the Bureau of Land Management. In accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state of Oregon public health officials, the BLM will temporarily close many of its developed recreation facilities to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

This closure includes all campgrounds, and some day use sites, and restrooms. Trash pickup and sanitation services on most of these recreation facilities will also be temporarily suspended.

Despite the closure of these facilities, multiple opportunities remain for the public to enjoy the outdoors as long as visitors heed orders, guidance, and advice of local and state officials and the Centers for Disease Control. BLM-managed trails and open spaces remain open across Oregon.

“Local, state or federal, we’re all in this together. The BLM is doing what we can as part of the whole of America response to the coronavirus,” said Jose Linares, acting State Director BLM OR/WA. “Although we have vast open spaces we continue to want people to use, we can’t stress enough that everyone listen to local officials and practice safe social distancing.”

Visitors may continue to enjoy their BLM managed trails and open spaces in Oregon while following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Local and State public health authorities. Social distancing recommendations are extremely important to reducing the transmission of COVID-19 and may require that visitors avoid public lands during high-use times, such as weekends. Please limit any group activities to members of your household, and keep your total party to 10 or fewer participants. At all times, maintain a distance of six feet or more from other people.

The BLM encourages responsible, local recreation to avoid putting strain on other communities. To ensure public lands and waters remain intact for future generations, visitors are encouraged to utilize Leave No Trace practices, such as picking up all trash and human waste, while services at recreational facilities are suspended. Please bring your own sanitary products, including toilet paper and hand sanitizer, and pack out all trash.

Providing for recreation opportunities during this time is just one of the many activities BLM Oregon/Washington staff continues to perform each and every day remain because they are vitally important to the nation and our neighbors. Our work continues to support the nation’s energy and food security. We provide for sustainable timber harvests and provide protection from wildland fire. We are stewards of amazing landscapes and provide for enjoyment of all types of outdoor recreation.

If you’d like to do business with the BLM, please do so by email or phone whenever possible.  If you need to come into one of our offices, please contact us first so we can arrange an appointment to help you during normal business hours. Contact information is available on our website at

Information on the affected BLM Oregon-Washington facilities will be posted on Please check with individual field and district offices and visitor centers for specific details on operations in your area.

  • Burns District: 541-573-4400
  • Coos Bay District: 541-756-0100
  • Lakeview District: 541-947-2177
  • Medford District: 541-618-2200
  • Northwest Oregon District: 503-375-5646
  • Prineville District: 541-416-6700
  • Roseburg District: 541-440-4930
  • Vale District: 541-473-3144

These closures are pursuant to the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR): 43 CFR § 8364.1, 43 CFR § 9268.3(d)(1), and 43 CFR § 8365.1-4.

– BLM–

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. In fiscal year 2018, the diverse activities authorized on BLM-managed lands generated $105 billion in economic output across the country. This economic activity supported 471,000 jobs and contributed substantial revenue to the U.S. Treasury and state governments, mostly through royalties on minerals.

BLM Prineville District temporarily closes some recreation facilities and areas  

Central Oregon – The health and safety of our visitors and staff remains the number one priority of the Bureau of Land Management. Consistent with the closures already put forward by our partners, as well as with the guidance provided by the CDC and Governor Brown’s Stay at Home Executive Order No. 20-12, the Prineville District is temporarily closing access and use of many of its developed recreation facilities to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

These closures include boating on the Lower Deschutes and John Day Wild and Scenic Rivers.  Given the Oregon State Marine Board has put in place temporary boating restrictions and a number of boat ramps are already closed by other agencies, local communities, and partners, the Prineville District is no longer selling new boater permits for the period from March 28th – April 30, 2020.  All existing reservations for April 1st- April 30th will been cancelled and refunds will be issued. Boaters currently on the water will be able to complete their trips. Overnight use at all campgrounds along these rivers will be closed beginning 12:01 AM on April 1, 2020. The river closures will also include bathrooms at developed recreation areas as well as boat launches.  Access to day-use sites, trails, and all roads remains open.

In addition, outside of the Lower Deschutes and John Day Rivers, restroom facilities at all developed recreation sites will be closed, and all developed campgrounds will be temporarily closed to overnight camping as of 12:01 AM on April 1, 2020. Trash pickup and sanitation services on most of these recreation facilities will also be temporarily suspended. Access to day-use sites including trailheads is still available. Visitors currently in campgrounds will have until 12:01 a.m. April 1, 2020 to leave. Sites remaining open for day-use (hiking, mountain biking, etc.) will be posted with measures for safe recreation.

Despite facility closures, millions of acres of BLM-managed public lands across Oregon remain open to enjoy. We encourage all visitors, particularly those who are elderly, have underlying health conditions, or are otherwise vulnerable, to make smart decisions and follow CDC guidance to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. These measures include:

  • Practicing social distancing by maintaining at least 6 feet of space between you and others. This can mean taking separate vehicles to a trailhead, waiting in your car at the trailhead if other users are in the parking lot or at a map or information kiosk, and stepping aside to allow other visitors to pass you safely on a trail. Pick a different spot to recreate if your first choice appears crowded.
  • Bringing hand sanitizer or the ability to wash your hands while you’re outdoors and doing so frequently.
  • Being prepared for weather conditions, carrying plenty of food and water, and letting someone know where you’re going – avoid putting additional pressure on medical and law enforcement personnel.
  • Following Leave No Trace principles including packing out all of your trash and recyclables. Know how to go to the bathroom outside – go at least 200 feet from a trail or water sources, dig a hole about 6 inches deep (and fill it in when you’re done) and pack out your toilet paper.
  • Covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth, and most importantly, staying home if you don’t feel well.

If you have questions regarding a specific location in this District, please call (541) 416-6700.

News release from Oregon Parks and Recreation Department:

Recreation areas closed for travelers and locals alike

Salem, Ore – Many of the state’s top federal, state, and local recreation areas are closed to all use following Governor Kate Brown’s Executive Order on Monday, March 23 that prohibits all non-essential travel. Oregon has reached a critical moment in the COVID-19 health emergency when limiting contact between people will save lives and flatten the infection curve.

All state parks, parts of national forests, and some city recreation areas shuttered their doors over the past week to reduce crowds and discourage travel. The closures also affect local use, and land management authorities acknowledge this will be frustrating. With parks and other public lands closed, safety-related services like restrooms are closed and trash collection is suspended, increasing the risk of injury when a person visits in violation of the closure. Local health care professionals are focused on using resources to prepare for COVID-19 care and cannot afford to spend limited time and resources on people injured during recreational activities. All use, whether originating locally or not, is prohibited in a closed park.

The closures do not yet affect the ocean beaches, though all state and many federal and local access points are closed. If problems arise with people traveling unnecessarily or congregating there, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department will reconsider that decision.

Some travel is necessary, and state highway rest areas are open for travel-related needs. Some parks also serve as rest areas, and while nearly all are available for rest area-type functions, they are closed to recreation. Some rest areas may have reduced service or may be difficult to access. Parks that attract too many people seeking recreation rather than rest area services will be closed to all service. A map of state highway rest areas is available at

People are encouraged to exercise as close to home as possible, including backyards and neighborhoods where social distancing is easier to maintain.

Stay home, save lives.

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus

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