Governor Kate Brown today announced the limited opening of some state parks, outdoor recreation facilities, and areas across Oregon for day use effective today, May 5, 2020, with camping opportunities becoming available as federal, state, local, and private providers are able to prepare their facilities for visitors. Ski resorts will also be able to resume activities under a new executive order that will be forthcoming. As this limited reopening occurs, it is essential that Oregonians recreate responsibly to protect the health, wellness, and safety of themselves and others in local communities.
“Enjoying Oregon’s beauty and bounty is one of our state's time-honored traditions,” said Governor Brown. “As we begin to slowly open up recreation sites, state parks, and ski areas opportunities, it is critical we ensure the health and safety of staff, volunteers, and the public. And that begins with each of us taking personal responsibility to be good stewards of our parks, and each other.”
Under the Governor’s Stay Home, Save Lives executive order, not all outdoor recreation areas were closed. However, as concerns about public health and safety due to crowding and lack of physical distancing grew, Governor Brown supported the decisions of local, state, and federal jurisdictions to close sites to protect the health and safety of their communities.
Oregon’s outdoor recreation providers and the Oregon Health Authority have partnered to create recommendations for safely and gradually offering limited outdoor recreation opportunities. This approach will not open all day use and camping opportunities at once.
Reopening outdoor recreation areas will be a phased approach as it becomes safe for some communities and recreational providers to do so, and will change the way that Oregonians visit some familiar sites. Columbia River Gorge parks and recreation areas, as well as coastal areas that are not yet ready to welcome visitors back, will remain closed for now, while the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department coordinates with local jurisdictions and partners in Washington to determine the appropriate timing for reopening.
Guidelines for responsible outdoor recreation include:
Prepare before you go:
• Limit your recreation activities, and recreate only with people in your own household.
• Check what’s open before leaving home. Your favorite trail or camp site may remain closed, or need to be closed on a temporary basis, to prevent crowding and protect public health.
• Plan ahead and come prepared as service levels may be different than you are accustomed to.
• Visitors may find limited restroom services available. Plan to bring your own soap, water, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper.
• Bring a mask to cover your nose and mouth. Visit less crowded areas, visit during off-peak times, and have a back-up plan.
• Not feeling well? Don’t go. If you have symptoms of a fever, cough, or shortness of breath, stay home.
Take care when you get there:
• Be safe and responsible by choosing activities within your comfort zone.
• Leave no trace, and pack out what you pack in.
• Maintain your own personal hygiene like washing your hands often, bringing your own water, hand sanitizer, soap, and toilet paper.
• Avoid crowds. Be prepared for last minute changes to ensure the safety and health of others.
• All of the standard ways to protect public health apply in the outdoors too, like maintaining physical distance.
• Keep at least 6 feet between you and other Oregonians enjoying the outdoors. Launch one boat at time to ensure other Oregonians have enough space to launch safely and securely.
• Leave at least one parking space between your vehicle and the vehicle next to you.
• It is wildfire season. Please remain safe and vigilant to ensure forest health and safety. Do not start fires in undesignated areas. Check if your campground or park allows outdoor fires before you strike a match. If permitted, make sure you are building a campfire properly and that you have water or an extinguisher on hand. Before you leave, ensure the campfire is out. If it's too hot to touch, it's too hot to leave.
The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) announced a small number of inland state parks will offer limited services starting Wednesday, May 6.
Parks returning to limited daytime service:
• Tryon Creek in Portland
• Willamette Mission north of Keizer
• Mongold boat ramp at Detroit Lake
• State Capitol State Park in Salem
• The Cove Palisades boat ramp at Lake Billy Chinook near Culver
• Prineville Reservoir boat ramp near Prineville
• Joseph Stewart boat ramp on Lost Creek Lake near Shady Cove
• Pilot Butte to pedestrians (no vehicles) in Bend
Limited day-use will slowly return to other state parks starting the week of May 11 based on the readiness of the community around the park to welcome visitors, and how prepared the park is with staff, supplies, and equipment. State parks will open and close with little advance notice; updates will be posted online at oregonstateparks.org or call 800-551-6949 (Mon-Fri, 8a-5p) and should be checked before visiting.
Not all restrooms will be open, and parking will be limited. State park camping will return as soon as it can be safely managed, and while preparations are being made, no opening date has been selected.
Visitors should expect a different state park experience than they are used to, and will need to prepare by:
• Staying home if you’re sick.
• If visiting, staying local and close to home, meaning less than 50 miles in urban areas.
• Only visiting with members of their household.
• Bringing all supplies—food, water, hand cleanser—needed for a short trip.
If a park appears crowded, leave and come back at another time. If there’s space at the park, patrons need to visit with care:
• Wear a face covering. Homemade is fine.
• Stay at least six feet away from people who aren’t from your household. More is better.
• Cover your cough with a tissue (then throw it away), or the inside of your elbow.
• Leave no trace: pack out everything you bring with you.
• Stick to low-risk activities to reduce stress on local emergency response and health care systems.
• Keep your visit short. Restrooms and other buildings may be closed.
• Watch for signs at the park for more information.
“We know these last six weeks has seemed longer, but your health is important to us,” says Lisa Sumption, OPRD Director. “It is true outdoor recreation boosts our mental and physical health, but parks concentrate people in a community, and we have to do this carefully if it’s going to work.”
“We need your cooperation to keep parks open,” she adds.
High-density parks on the north coast, the Columbia Gorge, boat accesses to the John Day and Deschutes Rivers, and places like Smith Rock in Central Oregon will likely be among the last to return to limited service, and no dates for state parks in those regions have been announced.
Source: Oregon Governor's Office