State Bans Dispersed Camping in Response to Waste Accumulation

The Oregon Department of Forestry announced that they banned dispersed camping starting Monday, May 11 due to problems managing the trash and human waste left behind by campers. They anticipate continuing the ban for several weeks, until they have the extra resources to clean the area and “make them safe for public use again.” 

“We have strived to continue to allow as much access to Oregon’s state forests as possible while ensuring everyone’s safety, including our staff,” State Forester Peter Daugherty said. “Unfortunately, the current conditions are hazardous to the public and our employees. We appreciate the public’s understanding and look forward to reopening these areas as soon as we can safely do so.”  

Dispersed camping refers to camping in a national forest anywhere that isn’t a designated campground. These areas are those that generally do not have restrooms, fire pits, or garbage disposal facilities. Campers and all visitors are expected to pack out everything they bring in and to correctly dispose of any human waste. Recently, trash and waste have been accumulating at a rate that is hazardous to both the public and ODF staff.  

The closure applies to dispersed camping on the Tillamook, Clatsop, Santiam, Sun Pass, and Gilchrist state forests, as well as all other lands managed by the Oregon Department of Forestry.  

The Oregon Department of Forestry asks recreational visitors to follow a few guidelines. According to their announcement, daytime recreation visitors should realize: 

  • There are no restrooms or garbage disposal sites available. Leave no trace on the landscape, which includes packing out all garbage. 
  • Human waste must be buried at least 6 inches underground and away from trails, parking areas, bodies of water, and any other areas where people commonly gather. 
  • Physical distancing still applies in the outdoors. Plan on maintaining a six-foot distance from people outside of your party, and you are encouraged to wear a cloth face covering when interacting with others. Plan on recreating elsewhere if social distancing is not possible due to crowding. 
  • Due to restroom closures, you are also strongly encouraged to bring personal hygiene supplies with you, such as hand sanitizer or soap and water. 

By Samantha Sied