This could be a big one

The Monday evening sun sets over the Pacific Ocean just south of Yachats, placing a dazzling exclamation point on the end of the month of August. State and local law enforcement expect the lure of the coast to draw greater-than-normal numbers of visitors this Labor Day weekend to Lincoln County. (Photo by Michael Heinbach)

Holiday, weekend forecast might lure more visitors

LINCOLN COUNTY — Lincoln County Sheriff Curtis Landers didn’t hesitate earlier this week when asked if he anticipates a greater volume than usual of visitors to the area’s beaches, waterways and highways this upcoming Labor Day weekend.

“I would say, and this is just my opinion, but based on what we’ve already seen from this summer’s activity and generally all the factors we have to consider, I think it’s going to be a busier Labor Day weekend than what we usually have, and I’m basing that on a couple of things,” Landers told the News-Times. “Number one, people are traveling more by car this summer than usual, and that’s driving them to the coast. The weather is looking like it’s going to be outstanding and pretty warm, which also drives a lot of people to the coast. The last thing is we usually compete for visitors with the state fair, and that’s not happening, so that could filter people our way, too.”

Sgt. Brian Tucker, acting lieutenant for the Oregon State Police Newport Area Command, wrote in an email that locals should prepare for a heavier dose of what they’ve come to expect from this summer’s travelers to Lincoln County. “OSP anticipates a continuation of much of what we’ve seen over the summer; more visitors than in previous years due to pandemic-induced ‘staying closer to home’ for many Oregonians,” he wrote.

Those thinking they’re seeing an increased law enforcement presence on the roads, waters and forests this weekend won’t be dreaming it up. In partnering with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Oregon Department of Transportation and the nonprofit Oregon Impact, the Lincoln City Police Department will deploy extra on-duty patrol officers. Those additional officers, with the help of grant funding, will focus on those driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUII).

Tucker stated more troopers will patrol the state roadways, also intent on keeping inebriated drivers off the roads, but that’s not all.

“As ever, OSP will be focusing on the ‘Fatal Five:’ speed, occupant safety, lane safety, impaired driving and distracted driving, including an overtime car during portions of the weekend,” Tucker wrote. He added that OSP will receive additional support from fish and game as necessary.

The sheriff’s office will look to enforce safety measures on the county’s waterways as well, and again, Landers pointed to the weather forecast as reason to believe boat and water sport traffic will be greater than a usual Labor Day weekend.

“Obviously safety on the highways is always a top priority for us, but boating safety will come into play with the weather expected to be so nice,” Landers said. “We don’t want people out there drinking and navigating boats, so we’re also going to be making sure people are safe on the water.”

With the increased amount of travelers to the area this summer, many have noted a significant increase in illegal campers along roadsides, at closed-off city, county and state park sites and at waysides along Highway 101. That brought a response late last month from District 10 State Rep. David Gomberg in a weekly email update to constituents, calling the situation “Parkocalypse at the Beach.” He encouraged reopening the remaining public parks still closed due to the pandemic to ease the burden on overcrowded areas.

“Summer is always busy at the beach, and this year that has been exceptionally true,” Gomberg wrote. “The surge in traffic creates quality of life issues for people who live here as well as environmental and health issues. Simply put, trash and illegal parking cause stress for people who live near our parks and a lousy experience for visitors who arrive to a crowded, overused spot.”

Tucker wrote that the OSP’s overriding message for the weekend is to be extra cautious on the roads.

“Please be aware of the added numbers of people in and around the coastal regions, both in vehicles and pedestrians, and take care,“ he wrote. “And as always, if your plans include alcohol, have a designated, sober driver.”

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