Dispersed camping in state forests temporarily closed effective Monday, May 11

SALEM, Ore. – 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, May 11.

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. 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. Problems with trash and human waste accumulation in these areas have become insurmountable and hazardous for the public and ODF employees. 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 Oregon Department of Forestry.

ODF 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 re-opening 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.

3 Comments

  1. Go to sweethome and drive up Moose creek rd.Take first left into the large parking lot. Many homeless camping in there. Burn up cars. Stripped. Burnt up campers. Trash everywhere. Many other spots in the forest there covered in trash. Piles of clothes. Human waste everywhere.These people have no right to be out there like that. Living there for months until they trash the place and then move on with tax payers having to deal with it. Come on forest service. Get them out of our forests.

  2. There is no legal way to ban dispersed camping. It’s a hardfast right we have, to use public lands and have unfettered access to them. The only thing you’ll do by banning dispersed camping and running people out of the forest is put homeless people on the city streets. Many, many, of us, this writer included, depends very much on being able to stay freely on public lands due to being very poor and usually houseless. There are a lot of us out there, millions of us in fact, who are in the same boat, relying on free dispersed camping for a place to sleep at night that’s off the streets. And for the most part, we too are incredibly shocked and angered and saddened by all the trashed areas we come across. We practice Leave No Trace, dumping nothing, and always using portable toilets, and always limiting fire use and impact to local plants or resources, and we’re quiet and respectful. We just need a place to live because we’re in a bad place and have no options. What you’re seeing with the trashed areas is, in our experience, almost always locals who know they’ll get away with doing whatever they want, because enforcement is always unfairly geared toward nonlocals or out-of-state license plates. There are also “miners” or “mushroom pickers” or “berry pickers” “hunters” or other commercial forest users, who view the land as merely a worksite and don’t give any more thought to dumping 50 pounds of diapers over the hillside or doing an oil change right on the ground. You’re seeing a biased view here, where the worse offenders are making the rest of us look bad. And when the campgrounds are an untenable, noisy, dirty, chaotic, dangerous, expensive experience, it’s no surprise that so many of us just want to have a genuine forest experience that doesn’t involve 150 campers with screaming kids, barking dogs, blasting stereos, trashed fire rings, revving engines, generators growling, no staff in sight, vehicle break-ins, assaults, trashed restrooms and a $60 a night gut punch for the pleasure of enduring it all.

  3. The issue is not homeless people, the issue is redneck morons who don’t have any respect for the planet they were born on. I’m pretty sure a hundred empty shot gun shells on the ground isn’t the result of a homeless camp. Pretty sure homeless folks don’t have enough money to generate the amount of trash the average shitty white American hick generates, but sure keep blaming folks who literally make the outdoors their home for not taking care of it.

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