OSU’s McDonald Dunn Research Forests Reopen Amid State Recreational Openings

Oregon State University’ s College of Forestry announced that the McDonald and Dunn Research Forests will reopen this Friday, May 8.    

The forests have been closed since March 23 in accordance with federal, state, and OSU requirements in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The university’s decision to reopen the forests follows Gov. Kate Brown’s decision Tuesday to allow the limited reopening of state recreation areas beginning this week.  

According to a recent study, the forests receive over 155,000 user visits, and just over 17,000 individual visitors each year.   

“We are pleased to reopen our research forests in a phased approach as we clearly recognize the important recreational, environmental and other benefits that these lands provide local residents,” said Anthony Davis, interim dean of the College of Forestry.   

“We are aware that the six-week closure of these forests has been disruptive for some forest visitors, but it was an important and appropriate public health measure to take. Going forward, I ask all visitors to our forests to be good stewards of these lands and excellent collaborators in public health as the COVID-19 pandemic remains a significant community and personal risk.”    

State Openings  

State parks opening today include: Tryon Creek in Portland, Willamette Mission north of Keizer, Mongold boat ramp at Detroit Lake, State Capitol State Park in Salem, The Cove Palisades boat ramp at Lake Billy Chinook near Culver, Prineville Reservoir boat ramp near Prineville, Joseph Stewart boat ramp on Lost Creek Lake near Shady Cove, and Pilot Butte in Bend which will only be open to pedestrians.  

More openings will be announced in the coming week, based on the readiness of local communities. The governor’s office will keep the Columbia River Gorge and beaches closed to the public, as best approaches for reopening continue to be problem solved.  

More executive orders are expected to arrive soon, outlining reopening for campsites and ski resorts.  

Similar to the statements from OSU, the governor stresses the importance of safety and responsibility when entering the public: “Enjoying Oregon’s beauty and bounty is one of our state’s time-honored traditions — and as we begin to slowly open up recreation sites, state parks and ski areas, we must each take personal responsibility and be good stewards of our parks, and each other.”  

McDonald Dunn Guidelines  

As for the McDonald and Dunn Research Forests, these guidelines and policies are in effect until further notice:   

  • Forest access points will be available from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. 
  • Forest visitors must practice social distancing measures by remaining at least six feet apart at all times. 
  • Adhere to “Leave No Trace” measures by packing out trash and dog waste. 
  • Keep dogs on a leash in forest parking lots, trailheads and when passing others on forest trails and roads. 
  • Wear a face covering when encountering other users. 
  • Forest trash and restroom facilities will remain closed until further notice. 
  • Research Forest greeters will be stationed at research forests entry points that attract high volume visitor counts. Greeters will welcome visitors and remind forest-users of policies and guidelines. 
  • Staff from the university, the College of Forestry and the research forests will continue to monitor forest usage and visitor compliance with reopening restrictions. 

The research forests could be closed again if federal and state guidelines change or if visitor non-compliance occurs.  

The guidelines echo those made by Oregon outdoor recreation providers and the Oregon Health Authority for recreationalists. In addition, state officials stress fire safety, reminding campers that no fire should ever be left unattended.  


By Stevie Beisswanger