The Gales Creek Overlook in the Tillamook State Forest. File photo: Chas Hundley//Gales Creek Journal

The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) initiated its administrative rulemaking process to create a permanent rule for implementing state forest closures, and to update an existing rule to include language clarifying that parking fees are not the same as recreational use fees.

The ODF does not have rules for closing state forests. A news release issued by the agency says creating such rules are important to ensure there is a transparent process for implementing a state forest land closure and to clearly state the penalty associated with violating a closure.

Summaries for Proposed Rule Changes 

The Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR) proposal for closing state forests says:

-- State foresters may establish portions of state forest land that are closed or limited to specific public uses or activities. 

-- The ODF will identify closures via signage and notices on the ODF website.

-- Any person excluded from state forestland can contest the exclusion by filing a written appeal within seven days to the district forester.

-- A person working under contract with the ODF may be exempt with written permission from the state forester or their designee.

-- A person who enters a closed area or who refuses to leave a closed area, or who engages in a restricted activity, may be charged with criminal trespass in the second degree -- a class C misdemeanor. 

Additionally, the proposed updated language to the OAR regarding parking fees clarifies that the charge of $5 is a parking fee and not a charge for recreational purposes, and not a waiver of recreational immunity.

Two ODF public hearings are scheduled for April 15. They will be held virtually over the Zoom video conference call platform, and pre-registration is required. Submit written comments by email to [email protected] or mail them by Friday, April 30 at 11:55 p.m. to ODF Public Affairs, 2600 State St., Salem, OR 97310.

ODF Proposes Continuations to its State Forest Implementation Plan

ODF on March 24 also opened a 21-day comment period, which ends Wednesday, April 14, on proposed two-year continuations of implementation plans for five state forest districts. 

Implementation plans describe forest management activities, such as timber harvest, road construction and maintenance, reforestation and young stand management, recreation, aquatic habitat restoration, and protection strategies for species of concern. 

Continuing the current implementation plans would allow ODF to focus limited resources on completing a habitat conservation plan and on further policy development processes.

The continuations would maintain current forest management strategies and timber harvest targets through June 30, 2023, while the agency continues to pursue a habitat conservation plan on western Oregon forestlands. 

The proposed implementation plan continuations would be for the state forest districts of Astoria, Forest Grove, Tillamook, Southwest Oregon, and West Oregon. It also includes the Tillamook and Clatsop state forests, as well as scattered state forestlands in Lincoln, Polk, and Benton counties (West Oregon District) and Curry, Douglas, Jackson, and Josephine counties (Southwest Oregon District). 

The ODF manages about 730,000 acres of Board of Forestry lands across 15 Oregon counties, as well as 33,000 acres of Common School Fund land, including the Tillamook, Clatsop, and Santiam state forests in western Oregon, and the Sun Pass and Gilchrist state forests in Klamath County. 

To read the implementation plans visit the ODF website