Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates and Information

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The health and safety of visitors as well as Forest Service employees and volunteers is paramount during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are working across the Pacific Northwest Region to align with the Governors' orders in Oregon and Washington state as well as the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control to help reduce the spread of the virus.

STAY SAFE, SAVE LIVES: Recreation Information and Closures

Stay Safe, recreate responsibly COVID-19 graphic

During these difficult times, we know many people seek solace outdoors. Recreational sites are taking a phased approach to transition to additional but limited access based on the ability to provide services in a manner safe to the public and our employees and in alignment with states and local guidance. We’re asking our visitors to respect all closures and follow social distancing guidelines when recreating. Following these guidelines will help take care of your family, neighbors, and our communities by preventing disease spread.

  • Check ahead of time to find out what local conditions exist and which areas are open by visiting your regional national forest’s recreation page, Region 6 Information and Alerts page, our Forest Service interactive map, or our Pacific Northwest App.
  • Many Ranger stations and visitor centers are offering virtual services to members of the public. Visitors and customers are encouraged to contact their local ranger station via phone or email during regular business hours for information.
  • Be prepared to be self-reliant during limited access. Access to amenities like restroom, garbage, and water facilities may be limited. We strongly encourage the public to plan for not having access to these things, which means you will need to carry extra water and know how to properly dispose of waste, including human and dog waste.
  • Temporary local closures will continue, we are making every effort to provide access to these lands. We too look forward to when communities we serve can once again fully enjoy all the recreation opportunities.
  • Be extra cautious! Take supplies for any emergency. Emergency responders may not be available due to limited resources.

What do I need to know before I visit?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published its “Visiting Parks and Recreational Faculties: Protect Yourself and Others from COVID-19.” The key is to know before you go and to follow safety and health guidelines from reputable sources.

How do I know if a site is closed or open?

National forests and grasslands are posting updated information on their web pages. Find your national forest and grassland by clicking on our Interactive Visitor Map or search the agency’s Contact Us page click on the region where you live, then the national forest or grassland link.

What is a safe and socially distant way to visit a National Forest or walk on a crowded trail?

Follow the same CDC and other local and stateguidelines for social distancing and personal hygiene while recreating as you do at home and in your communities. Adhere to group size restrictions for the local area and continue frequent hand washing and other sanitary measures.If you notice the parking area is full, try another open location but stay on legally designated trails. If you encounter people on your hike, temporarily step off the trail to allow them to pass, then step back on and continue walking.

If you head out, please take some time to consider:

  • What risks are associated with the activity you have chosen to do?  Law enforcement, search and rescue, and hospitals have limited capacity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • If the site you have chosen is full, have some backup options in mind that will allow you to maintain @CDC social distancing guidelines.
  • How will you help minimize pressure on smaller communities adjacent to the forest that have limited resources?  Restaurants, rest stops, and trailhead bathrooms are likely to be closed.   Do you have the food, water, and fuel you need for the day?  Do you have the supplies you need to hygienically pack out your waste?
  • We know the outdoors are calling, but the decisions you make can affect everyone.  If there was ever a time to recognize our #interdependence, this is it. 

While we encourage you to go outside and enjoy the fresh air and nice weather, we ask that you please take extra steps to do so safely. 

  • Ensure that you are following social distancing guidelines when you are in parking areas and on the trail.
  • We still have wet, muddy, and snowy conditions on trails and roads—these should be considered closed until conditions improve. Waiting for these trail and road systems to dry out and open up will mean that our road crews, trail crews, and partner organizations don’t have to spend additional time on reparative maintenance.
  • Let’s all protect and respect these public lands we love.

While you are enjoying your public lands, take care to stay within your limits.

Be mindful of the route you take, stay on well-established trails, tell someone your plan for the day and stick to it--and don’t go out alone. Be extra cautious, as emergency responders are very busy, Resources that typically support Search and Rescue are now used to respond to the COVID-19 emergency. Please don't take any risks that might mean you need rescue or health care. If you get lost, it may take dozens or hundreds of searchers to find you, particularly if you venture off-trail. Most of these searchers are volunteers who will be leaving behind their families during this emergency to help you. They may need to prioritize their health and that of their families. If you get injured, you will be relying on an already stressed health care system, diverting hospital resources from the pandemic response.

  • Take extra supplies for any emergency. We’ve been hearing from our county partners that they are seeing an increase in Search and Rescue operations, which puts stress on county resources, volunteers, and their families, and if you get injured, an already strained health care system.
  • Let’s all do our part to ensure we are keeping ourselves, our families, and our communities safe by being prepared and recreating responsibly.

Tread Lightly!

Tread Lightly! has adapted the T.R.E.A.D. Principles for social distancing outdoors to align with the recommendations from the CDC to help slow the spread of the disease and maintain physical and emotional health. Please help us keep the outdoors and enthusiasts healthy by following these easy guidelines.

Information and Alerts from Oregon & Washington National Forests

Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Colville National Forest Deschutes National Forest
Fremont-Winema National Forest Gifford Pinchot National Forest Malheur National Forest
Mt. Hood National Forest Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest Ochoco National Forest
Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest Olympic National Forest Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest
Siuslaw National Forest Umatilla National Forest Umpqua National Forest
Wallowa-Whitman National Forest Willamette National Forest

Fire Prevention and Preparedness

The safety of the public, communities and all front-line responders remains the highest priority for all wildland fire agencies. We’re all in this together. While our fire crews, engines, and tankers will be fully staffed and ready to respond, wildfires don’t stop at property lines and neither should preparing for them.

The most important thing members of the public can do to help during the 2020 fire year is to do their part to prevent human-caused fires.

Fewer human-caused fires will not only help protect communities from wildfire but will also preserve firefighting resources and help slow the spread of COVID-19 by reducing the need to move firefighters throughout the nation. Consider taking advantage of additional time at home during stay-at-home orders to tackle that defensible space project on your property. Get your kids outside and active in safely clearing brush or raking pine needles. Make a ‘ready, set, go’ evacuation plan with your family. Become ‘smoke ready’ with simple, low cost DIY filters. And please be extra vigilant with any ignition source from a dragging chain to lawnmowers. In some cases, fire restrictions may be implemented to reduce the likelihood of human-caused fires.

All spring prescribed fire efforts on national forest lands across the states of Oregon and Washington are paused in response to COVID-19 risks. With this pause, we can better protect those in higher-risk groups for COVID-19, such as the elderly and those with underlying respiratory conditions.

While our primary response strategy for 2020 will be to aggressively contain wildfires using local area resources from all partners, homeowners, business, and communities should be prepared for living in fire-adapted landscapes and airsheds across the Pacific Northwest. Our federal agencies, tribal, state and local partners stand together, ready to respond to wildfire during the 2020 fire year. Health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic may affect how we respond to fires, but it will not alter our commitment to serve the American people and public lands.

For fire information and fire restrictions in the Pacific Northwest, click here

Support for Valued Partners

As we navigate these uncertain times together we are grateful for our valued partners across the Pacific Northwest Region and beyond. Read the Regional Forester's letter of support to our partners here.