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Downed trees at Cape Lookout State Park block trails and access.
Downed trees at Cape Lookout State Park block trails and access.
Oregon State Parks Begins to Assess Wildfire and Windstorm Damage (Photo) - 09/19/20

The devastating wildfires that continue to level the Oregon landscape have so far burned about 900 acres of state park land, most of it undeveloped forest, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) reports. 

 

Some parks remain closed due to windstorm damage, or their proximity to active fires. Twenty-four parks have been closed since Sep. 7, when rare, severe wind events caused wildfires to quickly sweep the landscape. Go to https://stateparks.oregon.gov/index.cfm?do=visit.status to check park status.

 

Given the scope and severity of the fires, the 900-acre toll was a testament to both luck and extraordinary first responders, said OPRD Director Lisa Sumption.

 

The heavily forested Collier Memorial State Park took the biggest hit, losing some 400 acres of Ponderosa Pines. OPRD Forester Craig Leech said that “although 400 acres is a lot by any estimation, the careful fuel reduction and stand improvement slowed the fire spread enough to be contained before major damage occurred.


Detroit Lake State Recreation Area and the Mongold day-use area on the lake suffered only minor damage from the Beachie Creek Fire. Local authorities, the Oregon Marine Board and emergency responders are working together to help safely retrieve boats that people had to abandon on the lake when they evacuated.

Nearby, North Santiam State Recreation Area suffered far worse damage. The fire burned straight through the small campground on the North Santiam River.

Several parks in the Willamette Valley and on the north coast are serving as evacuation sites, some in partnership with the American Red Cross. We are happy to help provide a temporary landing place for those whose lives have been uprooted by this wildfire disaster,” said OPRD director Lisa Sumption. “We are looking forward to restoring and reopening our closed parks as soon as is safely possible.”

 

OPRD staff are assessing damage and scheduling repairs, where conditions allow. In many cases, fires are still burning near parks, evacuation orders are still in place and air quality remains unhealthy. OPRD asks the public to stay out of closed parks as restoration and recovery efforts take place.

“We are still very much in the emergency response mode. We will have more information to share about restoring and reopening damaged parks once it is safe for our staff to do so,” said OPRD Communications Director Jason Resch.

A complete list of closed parks is on our Fire Information Page. Please keep in mind that damage is still being evaluated.

  • Silver Falls
    • 125 acres burned on the SE part of the park. Contained at this time.
  • Detroit Lake State Recreation Area
    • Minor damage along some campground loops closer to the highway.
    • Loss of one water storage tank.
    • 40 acres burned.
  • North Santiam State Recreation Area
    • 120 acres burned.
    • Loss of some structures.
  • Bonnie Lure State Recreation Area
    • 40 acres burned.
  • Collier Memorial State Park
    • 400 acres burned.
    • Damage to historic museum and some equipment.
    • Loss of one historic cabin, wood shed, and host trailer.
  • Wallowa Lake State Park
    • Wind damage to dock.
  • Devil’s Lake State Park
    • No fire damage, but many trees down.
  • Other coastal parks with trees down include Munson Creek Falls State Natural Site, Sitka Sedge State Natural Area, Cape Lookout State Park, Beverly Beach State Park, William M. Tugman and many areas of the Oregon Coast Trail are reported to have trees down as well. 

 

Many parks remain open, but still could be experiencing poor air quality. Some major highways and roads used to access parks are closed.

 

 

 

Photos in this release can be found here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1Q565D2q2AFrScOjJWyO_az9MKaXMxrBJ?usp=sharing

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Public invited to comment on proposed ATV access route in Sumpter - 09/17/20

Sumpter, Ore. — A proposed ATV access route designation would allow ATVs on a 1¼ mile segment of Sumpter Highway No. 410, located in the town of Sumpter, west of Baker City.

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department’s (OPRD) All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) Highway Access Routes Advisory Committee is soliciting public comments on the stretch that runs from approximately Cracker Creek Road to Sawmill Gulch Road (from milepost 0.0 to 1.18). If designated, the segment would provide ATV access to local businesses as well as Umatilla National Forest lands to the north and south of Sumpter.

Members of the public may submit comments about the proposed designation through Oct. 4; send comments via email to ATV.highway@oregon.gov.

A public conference call/webinar is scheduled for 6 - 7 p.m. Sep. 29, 2020 and will feature an overview of the proposed access route along with more information about the ATV Highway Access Routes program.

The public is invited to listen or view the presentation:

Individuals who need special accommodations to listen to the presentation, or need information in alternative formats, should contact Ian Caldwell, OPRD grants and community programs representative, at 541-410-5512 or ian.caldwell@oregon.gov

Learn more about the Oregon ATV Program at www.OregonOHV.org

Wildfires close some state parks and prompt statewide fire ban for all state parks - 09/09/20

Dangerous fire conditions and spreading wildfires across the state has prompted Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) to issue a statewide fire ban and close some parks.

Park Closures

The following parks are closed to all visitors until further notice or unless otherwise noted:

  • Silver Falls State Park near Silverton
  • Detroit Lake campground and Mongold day-use area near Detroit
  • North Santiam State Park near Mehama
  • Collier Memorial State Park near Klamath Falls, closed the remainder of September, which is when its normal camping season ends

These parks were evacuated early Tuesday. Information for evacuation centers, which are not operated by OPRD, will be published at stateparks.oregon.gov when it is available.

Additionally, these parks closed the afternoon of Sep. 8 with visitors now leaving:

  • All state parks and boat ramps on Fall Creek Reservoir — including Winberry day-use area, North Shore day-use area and Cascara campground — are closed until further notice
  • Cape Lookout State Park near Tillamook will close through Sep. 10 due to power outages and limited water supply related to high winds

Campers with reservations at closed parks will be issued refunds. Refund details and dates are posted on our Fire Information Page.

Further closures and evacuations are possible depending on smoke and fire danger, and more information is available online at oregonsmoke.blogspot.com and gacc.nifc.gov/nwcc/information/firemap.

Many parks remain open, but are experiencing poor air quality and frequent power outages. Power failure could happen at any park without notice.

“It’s best not to visit any state parks until conditions improve,” said OPRD Associate Director Chris Havel. “If you do travel to a park, or anywhere else for that matter, give space to emergency personnel and be prepared for unexpected closures.”

 

Statewide fire ban

Effective Sep. 8, all state parks are under a fire ban, including campgrounds, day-use areas and beaches. The ban includes wood, charcoal briquettes, candles, tiki torches and other devices that emit flames or embers. Propane stoves and other cooking devices that have a shutoff valve are also prohibited. The fire ban will be lifted as conditions improve and in coordination with state and local fire officials. Check our Fire Information Page for updates.

“With conditions changing rapidly, our top priority remains the safety of visitors and staff,” said OPRD Director Lisa Sumption. “Thanks to all for your patience and help in protecting the state’s parks and natural areas.”

Whale dies after stranding near Bandon Saturday - 09/06/20

Media contacts:
Chris Havel, Oregon Parks and Recreation Dept., Cell: 503-931-2590
Michael Milstein, Public Affairs Officer - NOAA Fisheries, Office: 503-231-6268, Cell: 971-313-1466

Whale dies after stranding near Bandon Saturday

Bandon, Ore. -- What has been tentatively identified as a 38' Sei whale became stranded on the Oregon coast south of Bandon Saturday afternoon, September 5. Oregon State Park rangers, the Oregon State Police, Oregon State University, Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network, and representatives of the West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network and NOAA Fisheries responded.

While alive when it first came ashore, the Sei whale was stranded by the tide and died Saturday evening. Based on its size, it was a subadult male, meaning it was not yet fully-mature. The necropsy will be led today, Sunday, September 6 by Oregon State University, World Vets, and Sealife Response, Rehabilitation and Research. The necropsy will allow marine mammal biologists to collect samples to try to determine what may have caused the animal to strand. The carcass will be buried on the beach shortly thereafter. It is against federal law to take pieces from a whale carcass.

Information about Sei whales is available online at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/species/sei-whale.

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Editors: images from the scene Saturday are online at https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1xEPDKGENllR4uqy-mTDrkQc0vmg1PYZ6?usp=sharing . Please credit "Courtesy Oregon Parks and Recreation Dept." if space allows.

Oregon State Parks offers safety reminders for Labor Day Weekend - 09/03/20

SALEM, Ore.—The long Labor Day Weekend is the last big outdoor vacation for many Oregonians.  Although nothing is typical in 2020, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department encourages everyone to follow the same safety practices of past years, plus a few new ones during the COVID-19 era.

“The last six months were tough on everyone and the outdoors became a favorite way to relieve some of the stress and anxiety,” says Lisa Sumption, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) director. “We expect this weekend to continue the trend of more visitors escaping to state parks and public lands statewide. We want people to enjoy their visits and ask that everyone be responsible, patient and courteous during this busy time.”

The predicted hot and dry weather makes fire safety a top priority for Oregon State Parks and state and local fire agencies. The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) reports 87 recreation-related fires this fire season that have burned approximately 366 acres.

“Most wildfires are human-caused, and September is a time when we often see fire starts because of human activity,” said ODF Fire Protection Chief Doug Grafe. “We’re asking people to follow local public use restrictions and exercise common sense when spending time outdoors.”

Many state parks and south coast beaches have campfire and beach fire restrictions. Be sure to check the state parks campfire restrictions web page before you head out on your trip. Conditions can change quickly, so check back frequently.

The great end-of-summer weather is perfect for swimming, paddling and other water sports, but cold water and low water levels reveal in-water hazards in many rivers. Be sure to plan ahead and find out about any reported obstructions and the recommended actions for safe navigation.

“There have been 22 recreational boating fatalities this season with one common denominator—life jackets not being worn,” says Ashley Massey, Oregon Marine Board public information officer. “Accidents happen too quickly to put one on in an emergency. Find a life jacket you’ll wear that’s Coast Guard approved for the water activity, and wear it.”

The COVID-19 pandemic and limited staff and resources adds more safety reminders to outdoor visits, says Chris Havel, OPRD associate director.

“Our limited park staff and volunteers continue to do their best to keep parks and bathrooms clean, but visitors can help them,” Havel says. “If you bring something in and would usually throw it in a trash can, please take it home with you instead if you can. We don’t have the staff to empty trash cans as often as we would like and the service you have come to expect.

“We also remind visitors that face coverings are required in restrooms and when a minimum 6-foot distance can’t be maintained at trailheads, trails and other crowded areas,” he adds. “And lastly, have a back-up plan for your visit. If the parking lot is full, don’t park on the road. Local law enforcement may ticket your car or have it towed.”

More information about open state parks, visiting and camping is available at stateparks.oregon.gov.

Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission meets Sep. 15-16 via conference call - 09/01/20

The Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission will convene via conference call for their fourth meeting of the year Sep. 15-16.

Commissioners will meet 8 – 9:30 a.m. Sep. 15 for a workshop and training.

On Sep. 16, commissioners will meet 8:30 – 10:15 a.m. for an executive session to discuss acquisition priorities and opportunities, and potential litigation. Executive sessions are closed to the public.

A business meeting will begin at 10:30 a.m. Members of the public will be able to listen to this call; instructions on how to attend will be available online prior to the meeting on the commission webpage on oregon.gov/oprd. The agenda also includes a time for public comment. To register in advance, visit bit.ly/oregonparkscommissionzoom. Time per speaker is limited to three minutes.

The agenda includes a request to accept a donation that would fund new hiker/biker pods in six state parks on the coast. The $39,875 donation from the nonprofit organization Oregon Parks Forever would pay for installing the pods in hiker/biker camps at Fort Stevens, Nehalem Bay, Cape Lookout, Devil’s Lake, Cape Blanco and Harris Beach state parks. The pods will have lockers, charging stations and fix-it stations with tools for bicycle maintenance.

The full draft agenda and meeting packet are posted on the commission webpage on oregon.gov/oprd.

The Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission promotes outdoor recreation and heritage by establishing policies, adopting rules, and setting the budget for the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. The seven members are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Oregon Senate. They serve four-year terms and meet several times a year at locations across the state.