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

Brian Bull

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

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.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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