Special Regulations in the Detroit and Sweet Home Ranger Districts

To improve the experience of visitors, prevent resource damage, litter, human waste, and water quality problems, and to allow the public increased access to sites along popular rivers, the Detroit and Sweet Home Ranger Districts on the Willamette National Forest have enacted localized camping, campfire and parking restrictions at several locations and an alcohol ban at the Three Pools Day Use Area.

Large crowds in the water and on the shore at Three Pools Day Use Area

Background Information/Rationale

On June 27, 2015, over 400 vehicles were parked along Forest Service 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. 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, campfires are also prohibited 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 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 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 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. 
  • 15 minute parking limit at the visitor information kiosk at the 2209/2207 road junction.

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 allowed. 
  • Access into existing dispersed or undeveloped campsites open for parking, camping and day use.  

Three Pools Day Use Area

  • No entry into Three Pools Day Use Area once the parking lot is full. 

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Alcohol Prohibition

No alcohol allowed in the Three Pools Day Use Area

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Campfire Prohibition

No campfires within 200 feet of FSR 2209, from the junction of FSR 2207 to the trailhead/parking area at Opal Creek Gate

No campfires 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

The following areas are CLOSED to dispersed camping in order to encourage day use and other activities, while reducing resource concerns with water quality, soil compaction, vegetation loss, litter and public health and safety. Forest Order 06-18-04-17-03 (includes maps of restricted areas)

Elk Lake: No camping within 500 feet of Elk Lake.

French Creek Road (Forest Service Road 2223): From the intersection of Highway 22 no camping for the first 2 miles

Breitenbush Road (Forest Service Road 46): From the intersection of Breitenbush Road (FSR 46) no camping for the first 5 miles

Blowout Road (Forest Service Road 10): From the intersection of Highway 22 and Blowout Road (FSR 10), no camping for the first 6.8 miles. From the intersection of FSR 10 and FSR 10-130 no camping for  1.2 miles.

Moose Creek Area: From the intersection of Highway 20 to the intersection of Moose Mountain Road (FSR 2027), no camping for 0.3 miles. From Moose Mountain Road (FSR 2027) to the intersection of Moose Creek Road, no camping for 0.2 miles. From the intersection of Moose Mountain Road and Moose Creek Road, heading northwest, to the intersection of Moose Creek Road and FSR 2025, no camping for 0.3 miles. From the intersection of FSR 2025 and FSR 2025-500, heading northeast, no camping for 3.6 road miles, to the end of the road. From the intersection of FSR 2025 and FSR 2025-500 to the intersection of the National Forest Boundary, no camping for 0.2 road miles. From the intersection of FSR 2025 and FSR 2025-505 to the National Forest Boundary, no camping for 0.1 road miles. From the intersection of Moose Creek Road and Moose Creek, no camping until the intersection of Moose Creek and the South Santiam River;

Gordon Road: From the intersection of Highway 20 and Gordon Road (FSR 2032), no camping for 2 miles.

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https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/willamette/recreation/?cid=fseprd536796