Proposed Special Area Regulations in the Detroit and Sweet Home Ranger Districts

The Detroit and Sweet Home Ranger Districts are proposing camping, campfire and parking restrictions, as well as an alcohol ban in certain areas. These restrictions are an attempt to improve the experience of visitors to the Willamette National Forest. There are several busy places where alcohol related incidents, impacts to water quality from campsites, trash and human waste, and unsafe parking along roadsides limiting access for emergency vehicle response are all contributing to an unsafe and unpleasant experiences for many users.

Detroit Ranger District

Sweet Home Ranger District

Submitting Comments

We value public participation and are seeking public comments regarding these proposed actions. How to submit a comment

DetrLarge crowds in the water and on the shore at Three Pools Day Use Areaoit Ranger District

Background Information/Rationale for Little North Fork Restrictions

On June 27, 2015, over 400 vehicles were parked along Roads 2209 and 2207, causing safety concerns due to parking congestion on narrow gravel roads. Recent features about Three Pools and Opal Creek appearing on “best swimming holes” lists has publicized the area and increased its popularity. With forecasts of persistent temperatures in excess of 90°, a need for emergency measures was deemed necessary. The one mile no parking zone at Three Pools was no longer effective, and lead to unsafe parking congestion in and beyond the no parking zone. In addition, visitors to Opal Creek parked along Road 2209 shoulders for over half a mile from the trailhead and restricted access for larger vehicles.A large heap of trash and bags full of trash surround a trash can

For many years, accidents and fatalities, as well as increased vandalism, resource damage, and litter, have been a problem at Three Pools. The quality of visitor experience has suffered, especially when higher numbers of visitors come to the area – and especially when alcohol has been involved. Research, from various locations that have banned or restricted alcohol from parks, has found that alcohol prohibitions: created a more family-friendly atmosphere; resulted in fewer visitor complaints (especially with noise); decreased vandalism; and decreased emergency calls and drownings. Alcohol is currently prohibited in nearby Marion County Parks for these reasons, leaving Three Pools as the sole park in the area where alcohol is still allowed. We propose to prohibit alcohol at Three Pools Day Use Area in order to achieve a better experience for the visiting public, as well as improve the resources of this unique area.

With such a high volume of the public coming to this area, we also plan to prohibit campfires along the road and trail to Opal Pool. The risk of wildfire is an ever-present concern in the area, due to its remoteness and lack of evacuation routes for the visiting public. By prohibiting campfires, we hope to alleviate the wildfire and public safety risk.

Background Information/Rationale for Detroit Camping Restrictions

In 2013, the Detroit Ranger District prohibited camping at select locations in three of these areas. While we have had some success in preventing resource damage, litter and human waste/water quality problems in the areas where camping is prohibited, we continue to see an increase of the same issues across the District. From 2013 to 2015, recreation staff have observed, that in most cases, the issues were not entirely caused by displacement from users of the closed sites. Due to the topography of the existing dispersed sites, as well as the proximity to water, these sites continue to pose a problem to the water quality and natural resources in the area.

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Parking Restrictions

Forest Road 2209

  • Parking will be allowed only along the south shoulder within ¼ mile of the Opal Creek Trailhead and at the designated trailhead parking areas for Henline Falls, Henline Mountain and Nasty Rock Trailheads. 
  • Access into existing dispersed or undeveloped campsites would remain open for parking, camping and day use.  
  • The existing visitor information kiosk at the 2209/2207 road junction would have a 15 minute parking limit. 

Forest Road 2207

  • No parking along Road 2207 between the junction with Road 2209 and the Shady Cove Bridge.
  • No parking along the south side of Road 2207 between Shady Cove Bridge and the eastern Opal Creek SRA boundary.  Parking on the north shoulder would be allowed. 
  • Access into existing dispersed or undeveloped campsites would remain open for parking, camping and day use.  

Three Pools Day Use Area

  • Restrict all entry into Three Pools Day Use Area once the parking lot is full. 

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Alcohol Prohibition

Three Pools Day Use Area

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Campfire Prohibition

Within 200 feet of FSR 2209, from the junction of FSR 2207 to the trailhead/parking area at Opal Creek Gate

Within 200 feet of FSR 2209 at the Opal Creek Gate to Jawbone Flats and within 200 feet of the trail from the junction of FSR 2209 and Kopetzki/Opal Creek Trail (#4187) to Opal Pool

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Camping Restrictions

No Camping Within 500 Feet of the Following Roads

French Creek Road: The current camping restriction prohibits camping within 200 feet of the road along the first ½ mile of French Creek Road (FSR 2223). Our proposal is to prohibit camping within 500 feet of the road for the first 2 miles.

Breitenbush Road: The current camping restriction prohibits camping within 200 feet of the road along the first mile of Breitenbush Road (FSR 46). Our proposal is to prohibit camping within 500 feet of the road for the first 5 miles.

Blowout Road: The current camping restriction prohibits camping within 200 feet of the road along the first 5 miles of Blowout Road (FSR 10). Our proposal is to prohibit camping within 500 feet of the road for the first 6.8 miles, with an additional 1.2 miles on FSR 10-130.

Elk Lake: There are no current camping restrictions in place. Our proposal is to prohibit camping within 500 feet of the lakeshore at Elk Lake, excluding the existing developed campground.

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Sweet Home Ranger District

Background Information/Rationale for Sweet Home Camping Restrictions

These camping restrictions are being developed for the same issues as the sites in Detroit - preventing resource damage, litter and human waste/water quality problems – but also to allow more day-use access to the sites along the South Santiam River and Moose Creek.

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Camping Restrictions

No Camping Within 500 Feet of the Following Roads

Moose Creek Area: Restrict camping, starting at the intersection of State Highway 20 and the Forest Boundary, to Moose Mountain Road. From the intersection of Moose Mountain Road and State Highway 20 to the intersection of Moose Creek Road. From Moose Creek Road to the intersection of FSR 2025, and from FSR 2025 to the end of the road.

Gordon Road: Restrict camping, starting at the intersection of State Highway 20 and Gordon Road (FSR 2032) for the first two miles.

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Submitting Comments

The Forest Service values public participation. Communications from the public regarding this project, including commenter’s names and contact information, will become part of the public record. Your comments are requested by 4/14/2017.

Submit Comments Electronically

For comments specific to the Three Pools Alcohol Ban click here or submit in writing to the address below.

If you wish to submit a comment in writing, please send it to:
Josh Weathers
Detroit Ranger District
HC73, Box 320 , Mill City, OR, 9736