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Recreational Trails Program now accepting grant applications for motorized and non-motorized tail projects - 04/01/20

The Recreational Trails Program is now accepting grant applications for the 2020 grant cycle. The federally funded reimbursement grant program provides matching grants to construct, expand, or improve public trails for motorized and non-motorized use.

Grant funds are available for construction, heavy restoration, trailhead facilities, land or easement acquisitions, safety and education, trail assessment for accessibility or maintenance, and water trails.

Eligible applicants: local governments, park districts, state and federal agencies, Tribal governments, other public land managers, and nonprofits. Nonprofits must demonstrate partnership with a land manager and be registered as a nonprofit in Oregon for at least three years prior to the application date.

Eligible applicants should apply online via the Oregon Parks and Recreation grant application website: oprdgrants.org. Returning applicants should use their existing account to log in and complete the application. New applicants will need to request an account via the grants website.

Interested applicants must submit a letter of intent via the online system by April 30. The deadline for completed applications is June 15.

Contact the RTP grant coordinator (see contact info below) if circumstances related to COVID-19 might impact your ability to meet these deadlines.

An elective webinar will be held April 8 to provide information on the program and how to navigate the application process. Register here: register.gotowebinar.com/register/8839060142165623052

The Recreational Trails Program is funded through the Federal Highway Administration and administered by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD). Approximately $1.5 million in matching grants is available for 2020. Since 1993, the program has funded over 500 projects across Oregon.

More information about the program, including the grant manual, application instructions and program schedule, is on the OPRD website: oregon.gov/oprd/GRA/Pages/GRA-rtp.aspx.

Questions can be directed to Jodi Bellefeuille, Recreational Trails Program coordinator, at ellefeuille@oregon.gov">jodi.bellefeuille@oregon.gov or 503-986-0716.

Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission meets via conference call April 15 - 03/30/20

The Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission will convene via conference call for their second meeting of the year April 15. The call was arranged to protect the health of commissioners and the public, and to comply with Gov. Brown’s March 23 executive order regarding COVID-19.

Commissioners will meet that morning 8:30 - 9:30 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 9:30 a.m. Members of the public will be able to listen to the call; instructions about listening to the meeting will be available online prior to the meeting: bit.ly/OPRDcommissionAPRIL2020.

Notable requests on the business meeting agenda:

Approve the final report from the Governor’s Task Force on the Outdoors
Gov. Brown established the task force in early 2019 with a one-year directive to explore long-term strategies for elevating outdoor recreation in Oregon. The task force has completed their final report and will share it with the commission, governor, state legislature and the public. 

Approve several legislative concepts for the 2021 legislative session
Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) has identified several concepts for possible introduction as agency bills during the 2021 legislative session. They relate to drones, all-terrain vehicle safety, historic cemeteries and other historic properties, and other topics. Details are online at bit.ly/OPRDcommissionAPRIL2020.

Approve a property acquisition adjacent to Wallowa Lake State Park to improve emergency access
Access to Wallowa Lake State Park, near Joseph, is limited to the park’s one entrance/exit road that spans the Wallowa River. Should that small bridge be blocked during an emergency, first responders would be unable to enter or exit the park. 

OPRD is proposing to expand park access by purchasing 28.3 acres of land adjacent to the park from a private landowner. If acquired, the land would connect the park to another road access point, and improve the recreational value of the park. A recent appraisal valued the land at $665,000.

Approve grant funding recommendations from the ATV Grant Subcommittee
The ATV Grant Program provides funding statewide for Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) recreation. For 2020, the committee is recommending funding for 18 grant applicants, totaling $1.2 million.

The full draft agenda and meeting packet are online at bit.ly/OPRDcommissionAPRIL2020.

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.

Reminder: Recreation areas are closed for travelers and locals alike - 03/27/20

Joint news release // Oregon Parks and Recreation Department // Oregon Department of Transportation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release date: March 27, 2020

Recreation areas closed for travelers and locals alike

Salem, Ore – Many of the state’s top federal, state, and local recreation areas are closed to all use following Governor Kate Brown’s Executive Order on Monday, March 23 that prohibits all non-essential travel. Oregon has reached a critical moment in the COVID-19 health emergency when limiting contact between people will save lives and flatten the infection curve.

All state parks, parts of national forests, and some city recreation areas shuttered their doors over the past week to reduce crowds and discourage travel. The closures also affect local use, and land management authorities acknowledge this will be frustrating. With parks and other public lands closed, safety-related services like restrooms are closed and trash collection is suspended, increasing the risk of injury when a person visits in violation of the closure. Local health care professionals are focused on using resources to prepare for COVID-19 care and cannot afford to spend limited time and resources on people injured during recreational activities. All use, whether originating locally or not, is prohibited in a closed park.

The closures do not yet affect the ocean beaches, though all state and many federal and local access points are closed. If problems arise with people traveling unnecessarily or congregating there, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department will reconsider that decision.

Some travel is necessary, and state highway rest areas are open for travel-related needs. Some parks also serve as rest areas, and while nearly all are available for rest area-type functions, they are closed to recreation. Some rest areas may have reduced service or may be difficult to access. Parks that attract too many people seeking recreation rather than rest area services will be closed to all service. A map of state highway rest areas is available at TripCheck.com.

People are encouraged to exercise as close to home as possible, including backyards and neighborhoods where social distancing is easier to maintain.

Stay home, save lives.

# # #

Tryon Creek
Tryon Creek
Temporary Oregon state park closure starts March 23 and affects all camping and day-use (Photo) - 03/22/20

News Release // Oregon Parks and Recreation Department // FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Release Date: March 22, 2020

Media Contact: Chris Havel, 503-986-0722 (desk), 503-931-2590 (cell)

Temporary Oregon state park closure starts March 23 and affects camping and day-use

SALEM, Oregon – At the direction of Governor Kate Brown, and in keeping with the guidance that all Oregonians should stay home and stay healthy, the Oregon State Park system will close at the end of the day Monday, March 23. Day-use areas will be closed starting March 23 at 5 p.m. Campers need to check out no later than 1 p.m.

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) previously ordered a campground closure that would have started April 3, and advised travelers to avoid day trips to full parks. With new guidance from the Governor, and clear signs that travelers are not following advice to avoid full parks, a statewide state park closure is necessary. Beaches can be closed by OPRD at their discretion and will be closed if social distancing practices are not followed.

All daytime park services will be closed statewide, including parking areas and restrooms. Campers will be refunded for all canceled nights. All travelers are advised to follow the guidance to stay home to stay healthy. City and county parks and other public land managers are open at their discretion, with the recommendation they do so only if they can adhere to social distancing practices.

 “We would have preferred an orderly shutdown of the system and to remain open for daytime visits, but our concern for the effects on rural health care systems requires us to move up and expand our plans,” says Lisa Sumption, director of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. “We know this will cause a disruption, since we’re suspending service to everyone, even people who live near a park. Reducing contact between people is more important than recreation at the moment.”

Know before you go:

# # #

Temporary camping closures announced for Oregon state parks, forests, and wildlife areas - 03/19/20

Joint News Release: Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, Oregon Department of Forestry, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Release Date: March 19, 2020

Media Contacts:
Oregon Parks and Recreation Dept: Chris Havel, 503-986-0722 (desk), 503-931-2590 (cell)
Oregon Dept. of Forestry: Jason Cox, 503-945-7427 (desk), 503-510-7972 (cell)
Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife: Michelle Dennehy, 503-947-6022 (desk), 503-931-2748 (cell)

Temporary camping closures announced for Oregon state parks, forests, and wildlife areas

SALEM, Oregon –Three Oregon state agencies will suspend camping to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department will accommodate current overnight guests through April 2. Reservations for all state park stays from April 3 to and including May 8 will be canceled and site fees refunded. Before May 8, the department will review the state park campground closure to decide whether it should be extended. The decision affects all individual and group overnight facilities: campsites, yurts, cabins, tepees, and services operated by concessionaires. The suspended service also affects reservations for group day-use areas.

The Oregon Department of Forestry maintains campgrounds in the Clatsop, Santiam, and Tillamook State Forests. Most campgrounds are currently closed for the season, and will not reopen for individual or group use. Year-round campgrounds will close starting on Monday, March 23. All day-use and campground restrooms are temporarily closed due to limited janitorial services. A reopening date for all restrooms and state forest campgrounds has not yet been determined. During this time, trails, forest roads and trailheads on state forestlands will remain open to the public.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is closing its Wildlife Areas to overnight camping effective Sunday, March 22. The closure affects both dispersed camping and established campgrounds. Several wildlife areas are also currently fully or partially closed to all visitors as part of annual seasonal closures to protect wintering wildlife. While camping will be prohibited, wildlife areas that are currently open remain open to visitors for day-use activities including wildlife viewing, fishing, hunting and other outdoor recreation. See the ODFW Wildlife Area Visitor Guide for more information (link at bottom).

State park, forest, and wildlife area camping areas are built into relatively small areas by design. Maintaining social distance is difficult. Working with fewer staff and volunteers is becoming a reality, making it difficult to maintain proper cleaning procedures. To support the state goal of reducing transmission of COVID-19, temporary campground closures are necessary. The details of these actions—such as dates and affected programs—are under constant review and will change as new information develops.

This will reduce long-distance travel for many people, but all state natural resource agencies remind Oregonians that a local outdoor experience can improve our mental and physical health, especially now. Daytime activities are still widely available and encouraged. The usual reminders, plus the new COVID-19 guidelines, apply:

  • Prepare for your visit with the clothing, supplies, and knowledge you need to have a safe visit.
  • If you're ill, stay home.
  • Cover sneezes and coughs with a tissue (then throw it away) or inside of your elbow.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Wash regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. It's up to you to practice good personal hygiene, and not every place at every park can be kept clean all the time.
  • If place is so crowded you can't maintain a healthy social distance—at least six feet—find a different place to go.

Know before you go:

# # #

Corrected: Future Oregon State Park responses to COVID-19 will be announced online - 03/17/20

Edit: Just correcting media contact cell phone number.

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Media Advisory // Oregon Parks and Recreation Department // FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE // March 17, 2020

Media Contact: Chris Havel, 503-986-0722 (desk), 503-931-2590 (cell)

Future Oregon State Park responses to COVID-19 will be announced online

SALEM, Oregon – The Oregon State Park system will continue to adapt to the COVID-19 outbreak by limiting park services and events. These changes will happen as new guidance is released by the State of Oregon team and federal Centers for Disease Control, and could affect operating hours for parks, the facilities that are open within a park, and what services staff provide.

Rather than issue individual news releases for each change, we will keep a running tally online at https://bit.ly/OPRD-covid and update this page as needed. Please advise your readers and reporters to check this web page for updates before visiting or requesting information from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.

General advice for state park visitors:

  • Getting outdoors is good for the body and mind. When you can, do it, whether it’s a state park or not.
  • If you're ill, stay home.
  • Cover sneezes and coughs with a tissue (then throw it away) or inside of your elbow.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Wash regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. It's up to you to practice good personal hygiene, and not every place at every park can be kept clean all the time.
  • If place is so crowded you can't maintain a healthy social distance—at least six feet—find a different place to go.
  • Some parks will see reduced service to trash, restrooms, and other facilities like visitor centers. Visit https://bit.ly/OPRD-covid before you travel to understand how a destination might be affected by reduced services and resources.

# # #

To protect threatened shorebird, respect nesting areas through Sept. 15 - 03/17/20

Editors: Photos are available at this link.

 

Beachgoers are urged to help recovery efforts of the threatened western snowy plover by staying on the wet sand at snowy plover beaches during nesting season, March 15 – Sept. 15. Beachgoers will see signs and ropes that identify sensitive plover nesting areas and list restrictions to protect the small shorebirds during this period.

Plover beaches remain open to foot and equestrian traffic on wet, packed sand throughout nesting season.  All other recreation on plover beaches is off limits on both wet and dry sand, include walking your dog (even on a leash), driving a vehicle, riding a bicycle, camping, fires, and flying kites or drones.

“We’re making great strides in reversing the downward slide of this species,” said Cindy Burns, Siuslaw National Forest wildlife biologist. “But it takes all of us, so we urge people to do their part to understand nesting season rules and to share the beach this spring and summer.”

These small birds nest on open sand along Oregon’s beaches. Nests, and especially chicks, are well-camouflaged. During nesting season, human disturbances can flush adult plovers away from their nests as they attempt to defend their young from the perceived predator. Left alone too long, or too often, eggs or chicks can die from exposure, predators or people.

Recreation restrictions occur in designated plover management areas: small stretches of beach along the entire coastline where plovers are nesting or could potentially nest. These areas collectively comprise about 45 miles of Oregon's 362 miles of shoreline.

“Visitors will have access to hundreds of miles of beaches that have no seasonal restrictions,” said Laurel Hillmann, Ocean Shores Specialist for Oregon State Parks. “By planning your trip, you can enjoy the coast and help keep these special birds safe.”

Detailed maps can be found on the Oregon State Parks website at oregon.gov/plovers and on the Siuslaw National Forest website at go.usa.gov/xEh2h. Visitors to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area (ODNRA) can review go.usa.gov/xdwYQ to identify unrestricted recreation areas and information on riding motor vehicles on the sand.

New restrictions on North Umpqua Spit

Later this year, visitors to a 2.6-mile stretch of the North Umpqua Spit within the ODNRA will see new restrictions, as plovers have returned to the area to nest after a long absence. Restrictions will be in place on the portion of beach south of Sparrow Park Road to the jetty, which is managed by the Siuslaw National Forest and has long been designated as critical plover habitat. The birds’ return prompts the same restrictions that apply at other plover beaches: the beach will remain open to travel by foot or horse on the wet, hard-packed sand only, with dry sand areas off-limits.

“Visitors to the North Umpqua Spit will still have full access to more than three miles of beach north of the plover area,” Burns said.

The date for when restrictions go into effect at North Umpqua spit has not been set. Visitors should look for signs and check the Siuslaw National Forest website at go.usa.gov/xEh2h for updates.

Background on plover protections

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed western snowy plovers as a threatened species in 1993, when officials counted only 55 breeding adults. Since, the numbers of breeding adults have steadily increased, from 149 in 2009 to 423 in 2019.

Several land managers oversee beach activity for plover protection, primarily the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD).

Habitat loss from invasive plants — as well as human disturbances, including litter and discarded food scraps that attract predators — had contributed to the birds’ decline. The saveoregondunes.org is working with land managers to develop and implement a restoration strategy as well as raise public awareness about the need to restore the dunes ecosystem for snowy plover, rare plants and animals, and the unique recreation opportunities offered here.

Eagle Watch event canceled for 2020 - 03/12/20

The 25th annual Eagle Watch, an event celebrating Central Oregon’s raptor population, has been canceled to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in Oregon. The event was originally scheduled for March 28 at Round Butte Overlook Park, near Culver.  

The decision to cancel the event was based on Gov. Brown’s recent announcement regarding large public gatherings and social distancing.

Todd Honeywell, park manager at The Cove Palisades State Park, says the cancellation decision was difficult but necessary, given event logistics.

“Eagle Watch typically draws a large number of people, and they often share optics like binoculars and telescopes for viewing the raptors,” said Honeywell. “Visitor health and safety is our first priority, so we decided cancelling the event was best for protecting our visitors and slowing the spread of COVID-19.”

Eagle Watch has been held annually in the area since 1995, and is jointly sponsored by Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, Portland General Electric, Crooked River Grassland and Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.

For the latest information about COVID-19 in Oregon, visit the Oregon Health Authority’s dedicated COVID-19 webpage.

Kerry Savage of Baker City appointed to Oregon Heritage Commission - 03/11/20

Kerry Savage of Baker City has been appointed by Governor Kate Brown to a four-year term on the Oregon Heritage Commission.

Savage is the Baker County Assessor and has served a variety of roles in the Baker County Assessor’s Office for the past 30 years. During this time, Savage recognized the need to preserve the office’s records in a digital format and began interacting with Oregon Heritage and the Oregon Heritage Grant program to support the purchase of a scanner to digitize the county’s surveys. This work aligns closely with the Heritage Commission’s focus on seeking statewide solutions for digitizing collections. Savage is also an active community member who has served on the Baker School District budget board and in a variety of community roles including Little League, YMCA programs, Baker County Man of the Year for 2000, Boy Scouts of America volunteer of the year in 2000, EW shrine parade coordinator for three years, a member of the cohort five of the Ford Family Leadership program, and the 2017-2018 past president of the Oregon Association of County Assessors.

“It’s an honor to be appointed to the Oregon Heritage Commission. I look forward to helping foster a deeper appreciation of our state’s history, so that Oregonians have a better understanding of our current society and an awareness of their own role in shaping the future. As a rural Oregon Assessor, my passion for digitizing documents came from the flood of the Baker County Courthouse. The Oregon Heritage Commission Grant helped to make these critical government documents accessible to the taxpayers. History can be found in our buildings, our culture and in our documents—they tell Oregon’s story,” noted Savage about his appointment. “We are excited to have someone actively involved in the eastern Oregon community who also brings a local government perspective to the Commission,” said Beth Dehn, Heritage Commission Coordinator.

The Heritage Commission is comprised of nine people representing Oregon's heritage and geographical diversity. There are also nine advisory representatives from state agencies and statewide organizations.

The mission of the Heritage Commission is to secure, sustain, and enhance Oregon's heritage by ensuring coordination of heritage initiatives by public and private organizations; advocacy on its behalf; education of the public about its extent and value; and promotion and celebration of its diversity. For more information, commission coordinator Beth Dehn at 503-986-0696 or eth.Dehn@Oregon.gov">Beth.Dehn@Oregon.gov or visit the Commission’s website at www.oregonheritage.org.

Spring Whale Watch Week returns March 21 - 29 as Gray whales migrate north - 03/11/20

The Spring Whale Watch Week event returns to the coast March 21 - 29 to celebrate the more than 25,000 Gray whales expected to migrate north past Oregon over the next few months. 


Trained volunteers will be stationed 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. each day at some of best whale watching sites on the coast, ready to help visitors spot the whales and to answer questions about the animals. A map of the whale watching sites is available online on the official whale watch webpage on the Oregon State Parks website. 


Due to lower volunteer turnout this year, not all sites will be staffed by volunteers or park rangers. Check the whale watch webpage for the latest information and updates before you head to the coast. 


Whale spotters can also visit the newly-renovated Whale Watching Center in Depoe Bay; it will be open 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. daily. The center features interactive whale exhibits and panoramic ocean views. 


A live stream of whale activity in Depoe Bay returns this spring too; watch it on the Oregon State Parks YouTube channel each day during the event, or catch the archived streams throughout the week.


In light of the evolving COVID-19 situation, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department is prioritizing visitor health and will not provide shared binoculars at viewing sites. Visitors are encouraged to stay home if they are feeling sick. 


More information about the agency’s response to COVID-19 is on the official FAQ page on the Oregon State Parks website. 


Gray whales migrate north along the coast annually during spring, following a route to Alaskan waters after spending the winter in the warm lagoons off the coast of Baja, Mexico. Many of the Gray whales will be accompanied by their new calves, born during the winter. The first large groups of whales swim by Oregon mid-March and the migratory stream typically continues into June.  


For more information about parks and campgrounds on the coast, visit oregonstateparks.org.
 

Committee to review Veterans and War Memorials grant applications - 03/04/20

On March 18, 2020, a committee will meet to score and rank the applications for the Veterans and War Memorials Grant program. The recommendations from the committee will be forwarded to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department director and the Oregon State Parks Commission for final review and approval at the April meeting. The grant review meeting will be at the North Mall Office Building, 725 Summer Street, NE, room 124A at 9:00 a.m. Interested parties may also call into to listen at 1-877-402-9757 and then enter the access code:  4605348.

 

The Veterans and War Memorials Grant Program was created and established to provide funding assistance to local governments for the construction and restoration of veterans’ and war memorials.  The program will help honor Oregon’s soldiers and veterans by commemorating their service to the country. 

 

For grant information contact Kuri Gill at 503-986-0685 or by e-mail: i.Gill@oregon.gov">Kuri.Gill@oregon.gov. The meeting site is accessible to people with disabilities. Special accommodations for the meeting – including translation services – may be made by calling (503) 986?0690 at least 72 hours prior to the start of the meeting.