Siuslaw National Forest starts phased reopening

The Siuslaw National Forest opened many day-use areas last Friday, however, this Cape Perpetua campground remains closed for now. While many waysides were open, some visitors insisted on crossing barriers that remained, or leaving their cars in areas clearly not meant for parking. (Photo by Cheri Brubaker)

OREGON COAST — Following the lead of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, the Siuslaw National Forest began a “phased reopening process,” according to a press release issued by the agency last week. Beginning Friday, May 22, many developed recreation sites were opened, though camping remains closed.

“With some exceptions, most national forest boat ramps, day-use sites and trailheads throughout the forest, and some off-highway vehicle staging areas on the Oregon dunes, will be available for day use,” Lisa Romano, Siuslaw National Forest public information officer, detailed in the press release, “in many cases with limited or no services.”

The forest service asked people to check their destination to be sure it’s open, verifying services available on its website before arriving. Visitors are encouraged to practice social distancing and stay close to home. 

“We understand how important outdoor recreation is to our local economies and to Oregonians who rely on public lands for their physical, mental and spiritual health,” said Donna Mickley, acting forest supervisor. “Since we’re not yet able to provide the level of service at recreation sites that visitors may be accustomed to, we’re asking everyone to please protect and respect their public lands, as well as other visitors, by packing out all of their waste.”

The forest’s website advises visitors, “Be prepared to find services, including bathrooms and trash collection, limited or unavailable.” For information before you go, visit http://go.usa.gov/xdzAE.

Many cars were observed parked along the overlooks and trailheads throughout the county over the Memorial Day weekend, some unable to observe the restrictions and barriers still in place. Most, however, followed guidelines.

“It was a busy weekend,” Romano said on Tuesday, “but we didn’t experience any major issues at our open recreation sites. Some parts of the Oregon dunes were quite busy at motorized access points. We’re continuing to work on plans for gradually opening remaining recreation sites, which is dependent on having adequate staffing and protective equipment employees need in order to safely manage and maintain recreation sites.”

A date has not been set for the next phase of reopening. Romano said it would be announced as soon as it is. 

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