Willamette National Forest will reopen recreation sites using a phased approach

Springfield, Ore., May 20, 2020, Managers of the Willamette National Forest appreciate that recreating in the national forest is important to many people. Beginning May 22, we will begin a phased reopening of developed recreation sites.  Select sites and facilities, including day use areas and some limited campgrounds managed by concessionaires, will soon transition into operation. Some trailheads and day-use areas that are still snow covered will be assessed for opening at a later date. Access to amenities like restrooms, garbage service, and water facilities will be limited. Bathrooms may be closed or unmaintained, and garbage cans may not be available. Visitors will need to bring water, know how to properly dispose of human and dog waste, and pack out all garbage.

“We want people to enjoy their public lands, and we want them to do it as safely as possible," said Willamette National Forest Supervisor Dave Warnack. "Let us all do our part to ensure we are keeping ourselves, our families, and our communities safe by being prepared and recreating responsibly.” 

Select campgrounds are beginning to open this weekend. Campgrounds that will reopen can be found on our website: https://go.usa.gov/xvJvj and booked through www.recreation.gov. National Forests in Oregon will maintain alignment with the state by gradually restoring access to developed recreation sites through a phased approach that incorporates considerations for the safety of visitors and employees.  Our regional closure order of developed recreation sites will be rescinded on May 22, 2020, and access will be expanded at appropriate trailheads, picnic areas and boat launches. Forest visitors are encouraged to know before they go. Check to find out what local conditions and closures may be, and please follow social distancing guidelines when in parking areas, trailheads, and on trails. We cannot ensure a COVID-19 free environment.

We know many people seek solace outdoors. We are asking our visitors to respect social distancing guidelines when recreating. Following these guidelines will help take care of your family, neighbors, and our community by preventing disease spread. 

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?  
  • With Memorial Day weekend coming up, please take a moment to review how to put out your campfire. We all have a role to play in preventing human-caused wildfires. Watch: https://youtu.be/9mlsuIQ96oo to see Fire Prevention Specialist, Brian McCloud properly start and put out a campfire. 

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @WillametteNF. Visit https://go.usa.gov/xvJvj or scan the below QR code to learn what is open and closed on the Willamette National Forest.