Eight Oregon state parks set to reopen for day use on Wednesday
Eight Oregon state parks are set to reopen for limited daytime use Wednesday, May 6, and others may follow next week.
Gov. Kate Brown said in her announcement that Columbia Gorge and coastal parks and recreation areas will remain closed for now. She said the timing for reopening of some of those sites must be coordinated with the Washington State Park System, which just reopened some of its parks for day-use recreation.
Some high-use areas — such as Smith Rock State Park in Central Oregon and access to the John Day and Deschutes rivers, as well as gorge and coastal parks — are likely to reopen last.
Brown's March 23 stay-at-home order to slow the spread of the coronavirus did not close all parks. But it allowed local, state and federal agencies to shut them down to protect public health and safety.
The list of open Oregon state parks by area, starting Wednesday and limited to daytime, include:
• Metro Portland and Salem: Tryon Creek State Park, near Portland; Willamette Mission State Park, north of Keizer; Mongold boat ramp at Detroit Lake, east of Salem, and State Capitol State Park in Salem.
• Central Oregon: Pilot Butte in Bend, pedestrians only, no vehicles; The Cove Palisades boat ramp at Lake Billy Chinook near Culver; Prineville Recreation boat ramp near Prineville.
• Southern Oregon: Joseph Stewart boat ramp at Lost Creek Lake, near Shady Cove.
Others may reopen the week of May 11 depending on preparations by communities and the parks themselves. Visitors should check with the Parks and Recreation Department website (oregonstateparks.org) or 800-551-6919 during business hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, before they go to a park.
Not all parks will reopen at the same time.
Under a new executive order in the works, Brown said, ski areas would be allowed to reopen. Camping will be allowed soon after local, state, federal and private providers have taken the necessary steps.
"As we begin to slowly open up recreation sites, state parks and ski areas opportunities, it is critical we ensure the health and safety of staff, volunteers and the public," Brown said in a statement. "And that begins with each of us taking personal responsibility to be good stewards of our parks, and each other."
Outdoor recreation advocates and the Oregon Health Authority have developed guidelines for safe park use. They are listed below:
Prepare before you go:
• Limit your recreation activities, and recreate only with people in your own household.
• Check what's open before leaving home. Your favorite trail or camp site may remain closed, or need to be closed on a temporary basis, to prevent crowding and protect public health.
• Plan ahead and come prepared as service levels may be different than you are accustomed to.
• Visitors may find limited restroom services available. Plan to bring your own soap, water, hand sanitizer and toilet paper.
• Bring a mask to cover your nose and mouth. Visit less crowded areas, visit during off-peak times, and have a backup plan.
• Not feeling well? Don't go. If you have symptoms of a fever, cough or shortness of breath, stay home.
Take care when you get there:
• Be safe and responsible by choosing activities within your comfort zone.
• Leave no trace and pack out what you pack in.
• Maintain your own personal hygiene like washing your hands often, bringing your own water, hand sanitizer, soap and toilet paper.
• Avoid crowds. Be prepared for last-minute changes to ensure the safety and health of others.
• All of the standard ways to protect public health apply in the outdoors, too, such as maintaining physical distance.
• Keep at least 6 feet between you and other Oregonians enjoying the outdoors.
• Launch one boat at time to ensure other Oregonians have enough space to launch safely and securely.
• Leave at least one parking space between your vehicle and the vehicle next to you.
• It is wildfire season. Remain safe and vigilant to ensure forest health and safety. Do not start fires in undesignated areas. Check if your campground or park allows outdoor fires before you strike a match. If permitted, make sure you are building a campfire properly and that you have water or an extinguisher on hand. Before you leave, ensure the campfire is out. If it's too hot to touch, it's too hot to leave.