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Citing 'Extreme' Growth In Visitation, Plan Seeks To Limit Access To Scenic Areas

Mount Washington, one of the five areas covered in the U.S. Forest Service's plan.
Brian Bull
/
KLCC
Mount Washington, one of the five areas covered in the U.S. Forest Service's plan.

The U.S. Forest Service is advancing a plan to limit access to five wilderness areas in Oregon. KLCC’s Brian Bull reports.

Mount Washington, one of the five areas covered in the U.S. Forest Service's plan.
Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
/
KLCC
Mount Washington, one of the five areas covered in the U.S. Forest Service's plan.

Parts of the Deschutes and Willamette National Forests have become too popular for their own good in recent years, officials say. Heavy traffic – even when lawful and permitted – is having a negative impact. And of course, increased visitation can worsen problems like trash and vandalism.

Matt Peterson is Recreation Program Manager for the Willamette National forest. He shared the gist of the plan’s five alternatives on OPB’s Think Out Loud program.

“The alternative with the most restrictions has limits on day use and overnight, to cross all five of those wilderness areas," says Peterson. "At the other end of the spectrum, one of the alternatives proposes overnight limits in three of those wilderness and day-use limits in just a few of those areas.”

Last year, Forest Service staff began looking into the effects of increased visitation to parts of the Three Sisters, Waldo Lake, Mount Washington, Mount Jefferson, and Diamond Peak areas.

There will be public comment meetings in Sisters Tuesday night, and Bend Thursday night. More meetings are planned in Salem and Eugene in May.

Forest officials hope to have an approved plan by year’s end.

Copyright 2018, KLCC.

Copyright 2018 KLCC

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. He is a 20-year reporter who has worked at NPR, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including three Edward R. Murrow Awards and the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award in 2012.