Gov. Brown announces 'limited opening' of Oregon's outdoor recreation areas

The partial reopening is effective immediately for some state parks, outdoor recreation facilities, and other day use areas.

Posted: May 5, 2020 3:35 PM
Updated: May 5, 2020 5:41 PM

PORTLAND, Ore. — Governor Kate Brown announced on Tuesday an immediate "limited reopening" of the state's outdoor recreation areas. According to the Governor's office, the opening applies to some state parks, outdoor recreation facilities, and day use areas around the state.

A reopening of overnight camping will be forthcoming as federal, state, local, and private organizations start to prepare for the return of visitors, Brown's office said.

“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 another executive order, ski resorts will also be able to resume activities.

The Governor's stay-at-home order did not explicitly close all outdoor recreation areas, but many agencies decided independently to shut down recreation areas due to concerns about public health and a lack of physical distancing — decisions that Governor Brown says she supported.

A statement from Brown's office gave few specifics on what will re-open and when, calling the reopening a "phased approach." 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 the time being while agencies coordinate with their counterparts in Washington state.

Oregon Parks & Recreation listed a handful of inland state parks that will open up beginning Wednesday, including the Joseph Stewart boat ramp on Lost Creek Lake near Shady Cove, the Prineville Reservoir boat ramp near Prineville, the State Capitol State Park in Salem, and Pilot Butte 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," the agency said.

The Governor's announcement included a list of guidelines to remember while visiting outdoor recreation areas:

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.

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