Staffing issues amid COVID-19 play a role
SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) – Due to health and safety hazards caused by sanitation issues, all dispersed camping is temporarily closed on Oregon state forests managed by the Oregon Department of Forestry, starting Monday, the agency said.
Dispersed camping areas typically do not have restrooms or garbage disposal, and campers are expected to pack out everything they bring in and properly dispose of human waste, the agency said Friday.
"These actions are integral to keeping campers and the forests safe and healthy, particularly as the agency currently does not have adequate capacity to manage sanitation issues at dispersed sites," the announcement said.
"Problems with trash and human waste accumulation in these areas have become insurmountable and hazardous for the public and ODF employees," the news release stated.
The closure applies to dispersed camping on the Tillamook, Clatsop, Santiam, Sun Pass and Gilchrist state forests, as well as all other lands managed by the department.
ODF said it expects the closure to last several weeks, while additional resources are brought on to clean the areas and make them safe for public use again. There is no date set for reopening dispersed camping.
The agency had previously closed ODF-managed campgrounds and day use areas. Forest roads and trails remain open.
“We have strived to continue to allow as much access to Oregon’s state forests as possible while ensuring everyone’s safety, including our staff,” State Forester Peter Daugherty said. “Unfortunately, the current conditions are hazardous to the public and our employees. We appreciate the public’s understanding and look forward to reopening these areas as soon as we can safely do so.”
People visiting state forests for daytime recreation should know:
- There are no restrooms or garbage disposal sites available. Leave no trace on the landscape, which includes packing out all garbage.
- Human waste must be buried at least 6 inches underground and away from trails, parking areas, bodies of water and any other areas where people commonly gather.
- Physical distancing still applies in the outdoors. Plan on maintaining a six-foot distance from people outside of your party, and you are encouraged to wear a cloth face covering when interacting with others. Plan on recreating elsewhere if social distancing is not possible due to crowding.
- Due to restroom closures, you are also strongly encouraged to bring personal hygiene supplies with you, such as hand sanitizer or soap and water.