Sunday, January 29, 2012

You Can't Camp Here Anymore

If you're someone who doesn't like to camp in fee campgrounds and is used to camping wherever you could drive to in the Deschutes or Ocheco National Forests or the Crooked River Grasslands, you may find that your favorite lovely dispersed campsites where you could set up a tent are no longer legal sites.

According to this press release "Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests and Crooked River Grassland to Implement New Motor Vehicle Use Rules" decisions were made in 2011 to enforce new Motor Vehicle Use Rules in 2012. Among other things, the new set of rules changes the conditions for motor vehicle access off of designated roads for dispersed camping."

There are two salient points that affect Mrs Elliott's and my camping.

First, prior to this new set of rules, unless a forestry or use road was posted as closed, you could drive it. Now, all roads are closed unless they are posted as open on a Motor Vehicle Use Map.

Second, where previously a fellow could camp any place that was not posted as closed, "Motorized access for dispersed camping is only allowed to existing sites within 300 feet of roads shown on the Motor Vehicle Use Map [...]."

This means that you can't camp on any site that is more than 300' from the road, and that road has to be one of the ones shown as open on the map.

Jack picked up a set of the new Motor Vehicle Use Maps (free) from the Deschutes National Forest Headquarters in Bend (new location on Deschutes Market Road) last week. The seven maps that cover the two national forests are large, 3 foot by 4 foot, and printed both sides. They are very detailed and very depressing. This because the riverside and lakeshore places where he and Mrs Elliott like to camp are outside the 300' corridor and even the pretty sites that Jack hoped would not be affected, such as the south end of Crane Prairie Reservoir, are off-limits.

See the press release for more information.


  1. ...which begs the question of how well these rules will be enforced, and what are the penalties? After all, a fine of say, $50 is another way of saying "It costs $50 to camp here... if you get caught.
    Did they give a reason, btw?


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