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No host, no reservations: Forest Service grapples with campsite staffing challenges

(Update: Adding video, comments from the Deschutes National Forest)

SISTERS, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Staffing challenges these days aren't limited to cities -- they happen in the woods, too, and can have just as unfortunate an impact on other relaxing activities, such as camping.

The Deschutes National Forest announced Monday that due to lack of a host at campgrounds in the Three Creek Lake area, campsite reservations are no longer available. Instead, campsites at the Driftwood, Three Creek Lake and Three Creek Meadow campgrounds are now first-come, first serve.

There are other sites across the forest that are first-come, first served, but Public Affairs Officer Jean Nelson-Dean said Tuesday that this is different: There are no reservations offered at any of the three sites.

With the first-come, first-served rule, people are able to camp in designated campsites for free.

These particular campsites are now just becoming accessible to people, due to the late snowfall, and it was one of the last areas that needed a host.

I asked Nelson-Dean why hosts are not coming back.

"Some of our folks are older, and with the pandemic, even though it's lessened, going on, they're choosing to not be in positions where they are in high contact with people," Nelson-Dean said.

"In addition, that area on our national forest happens to be a challenging site to get folks, because there is no cell service there-- that tends to be like the maybe one area that we are going to have a hard time getting hosts--it will be that area."

Nelson- Dean also explains who she thinks will be at the campgrounds this summer.

"I think what we expect to see if a lot more local folks taking advantage of those campgrounds because they are aware of them, rather than potentially visitors to the area at this time. If we do get a host, we'll move back into a reservation system through recreation.gov."

At the campgrounds, toilets will be periodically serviced, but there's no garbage service provided.

People who did have reservations have received notifications of the cancellations and are getting full refunds at recreation.gov.

The host job is a paid position and is meant to be the eyes and ears on the ground for the Forest Service and it concessionaire, Vista Recreation.

Article Topic Follows: Outdoors
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Kelsey McGee

Kelsey McGee is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Kelsey here.

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