I've seen a lot of buzz going around on Facebook about Oregon closing all dispersed camping starting May 11th. I'm making this post to clarify some details because certain news sources have cleverly crafted their headlines to make it seem as though all camping in the state, including dispersed camping has been closed.
The announcement from ODF (Oregon Department of Forestry) states that it is only Oregon State Forests that are closed to camping. Day use areas, restroom facilities and established campgrounds are also closed in state forests. They said that the cause of the closure was an overwhelming increase in litter and human waste in camping areas. The closure is in effect until further notice.
What Is Open in Oregon State Forests?
ODF does ask that you travel as little as possible to engage in these activities and stay close to home.
They also note that should there be an emergency first responders may take longer than usual to arrive on the scene.
It should go without saying, that Leave No Trace principles should be exercised when ever you recreate in the wilderness, but it is especially important now when the services and capacity of the Department of Forestry is strained due to the current Covid-19 health crisis.
Full Announcement Here -Sate of Oregon: Department of Forestry
Where can I camp right now?
Luckily for us Oregonians, 60% of the forests in the state are federal lands (National Forest, BLM etc).
Due to the health crisis dispersed camping is going to be the only camping option for these lands. This being the case, it is going to be very important that campers take care of the places they camp and visit. There is sure to be an upswing in dispersed camping all across the state due to the closure of campgrounds. Unfortunately, that's likely to mean an increase is garbage and waste left behind. So I strongly suggest bringing some extra garbage bags and plan on not just picking up after yourself but others as well.
I've never dispersed camped before. How do I know where to go?
If you go to the resource tab on this website or click this link here, you will find some resources for finding free campsites, where to get maps for the area you want to explore and a video I made explaining how I find amazing free campsites on public land.
You can also read this post where I cover the topic as well.
So if you just can't stand to be stuck in the house any longer. You do still have options for getting outdoors and camping. But of course be respectful not only to other people by social distancing and being health conscious, but be respectful to the public lands and leave them as good or preferably better than you found them.