The U.S. Forest Service knows that while Americans honor the nation’s deceased military members this Memorial Day weekend, they also will spend time exploring America’s public lands.
During the past year, county, state and federal land managers reported significant increases in visitor use on all public lands in 2020, “Nationally, Forest Service visitor use surveys indicate visits more than doubled in some of the monitored areas at the peak of the summer recreation season.”
As Memorial Day weekend marks an entry into another busy summer, the U.S. Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region is updating visitors about public lands’ conditions.
It wants people to know land conditions, to plan ahead, to expect crowds and share public space, and to leave no personal remnants behind, including food and trash.
In Southern Oregon, the Forest Service says Fremont-Winema National Forest “conditions brought late-season rain and snowfall on the east side of the forest, while the west side is unusually dry -- a reversal of typical conditions. Snow drifts, ice, and mud may be encountered on shaded or north-facing roadways on both sides of the forest.
Hazard tree removal following last year's fires continue, and seasonal re-opening of some roads and developed recreation sites may be delayed. This includes Fourmile Campground on Klamath Ranger District, which will remain closed all season. Happy Camp Campground on Paisley Ranger District, which will close June 7-11 for hazard tree removal.”
It says the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest is experiencing dry weather that has left low lake and river levels in some parts of central and southwest Oregon. It advises that Seasonal Stage 1 campfire restrictions are in effect on the Wild section of the Rogue National Wild and Scenic River, from Grave Creek to Watson Creek.
Visitor Advisories for Memorial Day Weekend:
• MT. HOOD NF: Extensive road and area closures are in effect on lands impacted by large fires in late 2020, including large portions of Clackamas Ranger District.
• WILLAMETTE NF: Access to several popular recreation areas on the Willamette National Forest is also limited by road or area closures in effect following last year’s large fires.
• Little North Fork recreation corridor, which includes recreation areas at Three Pools and Opal Creek, is closed.
• Forest Service Road 46 and the Breitenbush area is closed.
• In the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness, Pamelia Lake is open but all recreation sites north of the lake are closed, including a 20 mile stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail between Pamelia Lake and Triangle Lake.
• In Detroit, OR, gas, propane and provisioning will not be available due to the extensive damage to local businesses. Dispersed camping opportunities are extremely limited, and visitors should be prepared to be self-sufficient or travel an extended distance to re-supply.
• Forest Road 19 is closed near Cougar Reservoir due to a rockslide, blocking access to Cougar Hot Springs from Oakridge. The hot springs can be accessed from the south end of Forest Service Road 19, only.
• DESCHUTES NF:
• The Lava River Cave and Lava Lands Visitor Center at Newberry National Monument are now open, with limited capacity and new COVID-19 precautions in effect (more info).
• Central Cascades Wilderness Permits are now required for visitors to open portions of the Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Washington and Three Sisters Wilderness areas (some areas remain closed due to last year’s Lionhead fire). Permits will be released on a rolling basis and can be reserved up to seven days before your trip at Recreation.gov (details).
• OCHOCO NF: Most areas are open. Visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/recmain/ochoco/recreation to check the forest's recreation conditions report.
• SIUSLAW NF: Visitors should check ahead to see if the beach they are visiting is a designated western snowy plover nesting beach; during nesting season, dog-walking and activities on the dry sand and dunes is restricted to protect nesting shorebirds (walking on wet, hard-packed sand near the water is permitted). At Sand Lake, snowy plover nesting areas are marked but formal restrictions are not yet in effect; dogs should be leashed and visitors are asked to avoid dry sand and dunes.
• UMPQUA NF: An area closure remains in effect on the North Umpqua Ranger district areas heavily affected by the Archie Fire. The closure area extends north and south of a portion of the North Umpqua River; but some roads and trails are exempted from the closure order. Several roads are also closed between Timothy Meadows and Diamond Lake due to damage from the Thielsen Fire. For more information about these closures, visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/umpqua/alerts-notices (closure orders are listed under Public Notices).
• MALHEUR NF, UMATILLA NF and WALLOWA-WHITMAN NF: It’s still shoulder season in the Blue Mountains -- hiking and motorized trails may have not yet been maintained and some campgrounds may not yet be open. Check ahead to ensure roads, trails and campgrounds are open, particularly in areas that experienced late season snow. Shaded areas and cut banks on roads at higher elevations may also have impassible snowdrifts.