MEDFORD, Ore. — Jackson County Parks says that it has finalized its reopening plan following the latest guidance from Governor Brown on Thursday, detailing how park systems can operate during the initial phase of reopening.
“We’re happy to see some guidance on how we can operate, but ultimately the restrictions will significantly change how our customers use our parks this summer,” said Steve Lambert, Parks Program Manager.
Jackson County first announced a "phased reopening" of parks last week, but the initial announcement only included a few sites — primarily boat ramps — with more expected at a later date.
Under the new guidance, camping facilities can begin reopening on May 15 as long as Jackson County’s request to reopen under Phase One guidelines is approved.
The Oregon Health Authority's Phase One guidance for outdoor recreation, requires that Parks programs keep “day-use areas that are prone to attracting crowds (including, but not limited to, playgrounds, picnic shelters/structures, water parks and pools)” closed, in addition to limiting groups to ten people or less. Group gatherings in excess of ten will be cancelled and customers will be required to practice physical distancing when in the parks.
According to Jackson County, the waterslide at Emigrant Lake will remain closed for the summer. As pools and water parks are still closed and are not expected to reopen until July, the decision was made to close the facility for the entire summer.
“The waterslide takes a significant investment to prepare for opening every year and has a limited amount of days in a normal summer to earn revenue. With the number of days that it will be able to operate very limited this summer, in combination with physical distancing requirements and groups sizes, it would be nearly impossible to operate the facility in a safe and economical manner,” said Lambert.
Emigrant Lake will reopen for general day use and RV camping on Friday, May 15 with the tent campground reopening on the Thursday, May 21.
Due to extremely low water levels, in conjunction with COVID-19 concerns and the strict guidelines on how retail and restaurant facilities can operate, the lodge at the Howard Prairie Resort will remain closed for the entire 2020 summer as well. However, the campground at the resort will be open in time for Memorial Day Weekend on Thursday, May 21.
Some facilities around Howard Prairie Lake that have no useable boat ramp will remain closed as use is expected to be limited and staffing is lower than normal levels due to declining revenues.
Large day-use parks such as Emigrant Lake will limit the number of cars allowed to enter, in an effort to manage physical distancing. Visitors are asked to plan on arriving earlier than usual to ensure entry and shouldn't leave until they are done for the day — guests may not be able to return due to capacity concerns.
“On busy days, folks should arrive early, bring what they need for the day and, when they leave, don’t automatically expect to be able to return,” said Lambert.
Parks officials said that they are excited to fully reopen, encouraging visitors "to remember that this will not be a normal year and to plan accordingly." For more details, you can visit the Jackson County Parks website.
A detailed schedule of opening dates may be found below:
Parks Reopening Schedule
Step 1 – May 1, 2020
- Dodge Bridge Boat Ramp
- Takelma Boat Ramp
- Upper Rogue Regional Boat Ramp
- Rogue Elk Boat Ramp
- Agate Lake Boat Ramp
- Willow Lake Boat Ramp
Step 2 – Week of May 11, 2020
- Cantrall Buckley Day Use Area (Opens May 15)
- Emigrant Lake Day Use Area/Point RV Park, including boat ramps (Opens May 15)
- Southern Oregon RV Park (Opens May 11)
- Rogue Elk Campground (Opens May 15)
Step 3 – Week of May 18, 2020
- Emigrant Lake Oak Slope Campground (Opens May 21)
- Howard Prairie Resort Campground, cabin will remain closed (Opens May 21)
- Willow Lake Campground (Opens May 21)
Step 4 – Week of June 1, 2020
- Cantrall Buckley Campground
Step 5 – Unknown Opening Dates
- Apserkaha (dependent upon gathering size restrictions)
- The Riverhouse (dependent upon gathering size restrictions)
Sites/facilities to remain closed during 2020
- Emigrant Lake Waterslide
- HP Resort restaurant and store
- Grizzly, Willow Point, Sugar Pine and Klum Landing campgrounds