Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Outdoor recreation options clarified; public cooperation needed now


News Release from Central Oregon Emergency Information Network
Downloadable file: Graphic_1_Facebook_and_Twitter.png
Downloadable file: Outdoor Guidelines Grid
As temperatures are forecast to climb this week, Central Oregonians should be aware of outdoor recreation opportunities and follow orders regarding closures and restrictions in place to reduce personal exposure to COVID-19 and to protect first responders.

Mental health experts recommend fresh air and time in nature, but this must be balanced with the physical distancing mandated by the state-wide executive order to stay home. With different governments managing different lands, here’s a comprehensive look at all the options and current status.  

The following applies for public lands in Central Oregon (see also attached PDF chart):

Agency Open Closed Details
Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests and the Crooked River National Grassland Dispersed camping – or camping other than at a developed campground - is allowed.
Driving and parking along forest roads where it is safe to do so is allowed. 
Developed recreation sites including all campgrounds, day-use sites, boat ramps, Sno-parks, and all trailheads, including OHV trailheads.
Most forest roads are closed, and wet, muddy and snowy conditions on trails and roads should limit use.
As the weather gets warmer, do not park vehicles on dry grass as it creates a fire hazard.
Bureau of Land Management Many BLM-managed trailheads, trails and open spaces remain accessible across Oregon. Many developed campgrounds are open to day-use. All developed campgrounds are closed to overnight use; all restrooms are closed. Boating/Floating on the John Day River and Lower Deschutes River is closed.  The BLM recognizes that it is difficult for Americans to remain inside for weeks at a time, and public lands in Central Oregon provide enormous spaces that offer many opportunities for people to get outside, while practicing physical distancing. Please contact the Prineville District Office for more information at 541- 416-6700.
For more information click here.
Oregon State Parks Larkspur Trail in coordination with Bend Park and Recreation District is open. All State Parks, including all trails, viewpoints, and picnic areas and all other facilities are closed. In Central Oregon, this includes: Cove Palisades State Park, Smith Rock State Park, Tumalo State Park, La Pine State Park, Prineville Reservoir State Park, and a number of state scenic viewpoints, including Cline Falls and Pilot Butte.
Click here for a map of all Oregon State Parks facilities.
Bend Park and Recreation District Natural areas, open park space and trails while maintaining at least 6 feet between people is allowed.
Off-leash dog areas, picnic shelters and restrooms remain open.
Playgrounds, sports courts, exercise equipment and skateparks are closed. This includes pickleball, tennis, basketball, horseshoes and bocce ball courts.
Click here for parks and trail locations.
City of Redmond Parks Natural areas, open park space and trails while maintaining at least 6 feet between people is allowed. Playgrounds, skatepark, bike pump track, dog parks and sport courts are closed. 
City of Madras Parks and trails are open with physical distancing rules. Skate park and playground equipment areas, including basketball courts, are closed. Willow Creek Trail

Parks & Amenities
Jefferson County Parks are open. Playgrounds and covered areas are closed.
Crook County Parks and Rec District Parks and trails are open with physical distancing rules.
Playgrounds, skateparks, tennis/pickleball courts, outdoor sports courts and campgrounds are closed. Ochoco Lake boat ramp is open.

Haystack Reservoir W. boat ramp is open.
Sisters Park and Recreation District Open space at City of Sisters Parks remain open as well as public restrooms as those locations. Physical distancing of six feet or more must be maintained when using these public spaces. Bike park, disc golf, skatepark and playground are closed.

Limited outdoor activities are suggested by public health officials to help counter mental health issues and other incidents that may result in higher frequency due to stay home orders, including divorce, suicide, domestic violence, unwanted pregnancies, etc. Allowing places for people to get out may help to curtail some of the negatives of social isolation.

“Local, state or federal, we’re all in this together. The BLM is doing what we can as part of the whole of America's response to the coronavirus,” said Jose Linares, acting State Director BLM Oregon and Washington. “Although we have vast open spaces we continue to want people to use, we can’t stress enough that everyone listen to local officials and practice safe physical distancing.”

Central Oregonians are encouraged to take this opportunity to explore the nature close to home, especially when it can be done without adding to parking lot congestion at popular destinations.
“Our local parks, trails and open spaces have always served as places where people can find respite and seek peace and restoration,” said Don Horton, executive director, Bend Park and Recreation District. “During this time of uncertainty, these places are needed now more than ever.”

  • Use wide trails where possible to stay six feet from others while passing.
  • User-created trails damage habitat and create erosion.
  • Visit less popular trails at less popular times. If you see many people or a full parking area, go elsewhere or at another time.
  • Use trails and paths at nearby parks rather than driving across town or beyond.
  • Wash hands before and after any visit to a park or trail.
  • Follow local and national guidance to wear cloth face coverings in public.
  • Offer a wide berth when passing and if approaching from behind, say a friendly “hello, passing on your left.”
  • Keep dogs on a leash.
  • Go solo or only with members of your household. No groups.
  • If this is not possible or if you are sick, stay at home – do not use a park or trail.
There are other activities to consider outdoors:
  • Gardening and yardwork
  • Set up space to relax, do yoga, or do art outdoors
  • Read a book on a patio, balcony or in backyard
  • Clean your vehicle or bike
  • Go for a bike ride
  • I spy nature games with your kids in the backyard
Closures and use modifications protect the health and safety of visitors, employees and volunteers. The closures also reduce the non-medical demand for personal protective gear, such as masks and gloves, required for facility cleaning, and they protect infrastructure during a time when staff and volunteers are unable to respond to on-the-ground needs.

“These closures aren’t about enforcement. We urge people to abide by these closures and physical distancing guidelines to reduce impacts to our communities’ medical providers and first responders,” said Holly Jewkes, Forest Supervisor, Deschutes National Forest.
Built park amenities including playgrounds, skateparks and sport courts increase contact between people and equipment including rackets and balls. These activities are not allowed under the governor’s executive order.

Signs and other markings are being used to inform park and trail users of the closures and restrictions throughout Central Oregon. Unfortunately, these physical markings and barriers are being vandalized and removed in many areas. The executive order states that violations will be considered an immediate danger to public health. Blocking, or impeding, vehicle traffic or damaging natural resources may result in citation on federal, state, county, city or special district property.

The park districts, Deschutes National Forest and others are working closely with law enforcement agencies regarding unauthorized use of closed property and/or reports of removing physical barriers to gain access to closed property.

“I ask for everyone’s cooperation and sharing responsibility so we can weather this public health pandemic together,” added Horton.

“We know the outdoors are calling, and the decisions you make affect everyone. If there was ever a time to recognize our interdependence, this is it,” added Jewkes.

COEIN’s website, provides a collective resource for up-to-date information. Access to accurate, timely information both locally and nationally is encouraged. Our County Public Health experts point to the Oregon Health Authority and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as good sources of information. Daily situation updates are available via email at

COVID-19 phone line: Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. 541-699-5109

Central Oregon Emergency Information Network (COEIN), includes Deschutes County Health Services, Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, St. Charles Health System, Crook County Health Department, Crook County Sheriff’s Office, Jefferson County Health Department, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, tri-county public schools, City of Bend, Bend Police, Bend Fire & Rescue, and others. COEIN’s purpose is to collect, coordinate and distribute timely and accurate information.
Accommodation Information for People with Disabilities  
To obtain this information in an alternate format such as Braille, large print, electronic formats, etc. please contact the COEIN JIC at 541.316.0087 or
Contact Info:
Jean Nelson-Dean, Public Affairs Officer Deschutes National Forest,, 458-231-1242
Julie Brown, Bend Park and Recreation District, 531-743-1038