BLM to place restrictions on Table Rocks activities

The Bureau of Land Management plans to enact temporary rules restricting a host of recreational activities and banning dogs at the Table Rocks' publicly owned portions for up to two years, starting in August.

BLM officials say the rules will carry on what previously had been in place, but at least one Jackson County commissioner has expressed reservations about the restrictions.

Activities that will be prohibited include the use of motorized and nonmotorized vehicles, the use of firearms, paintball guns and metal detectors. Domestic animals such as dogs and horses also will be prohibited from the site.

Similar prohibitions existed when the land was owned by the nonprofit Nature Conservancy. The BLM acquired the 850 acres in November 2012, and official rules protecting the spot full time are not yet in place. During the interim, BLM officials said there has to be a safeguard.

"We have to formalize this," said Jon Raby, BLM field manager at the Medford District Office. "Unless we say that and have that as a restriction, there's the potential for that to occur."

Raby notified Jackson County's Board of Commissioners of the BLM's intentions at a Tuesday public work session. The BLM plans to enforce the restrictions for up to two years, or until supplemental rules can be implemented to enforce them full time.

"This is really not a take-away," Jackson County Roads and Parks Director John Vial said, adding some of the restrictions could be reversed.

Commissioner John Rachor said he still has some reservations about the restrictions, as it just means more limitations on what the public can do.

"That's always my concern," Rachor said.

A draft letter on the restrictions says the lands have "sensitive cultural, historical, botanical and wildlife habitat resources," necessitating the mandate. The remains of the Camp White WWII training center, eligible for inclusion into the National Historic Register, are within the boundary. Vernal pool habitats with endangered species are, too, as are nearby open grasslands where a large elk herd is often visible.

"Hunting is discouraged by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife due to the high recreational use on the hiking trails, but is not currently restricted on any of the public lands in the management area," the draft letter reads.

The acquisition of the lands was part of the Obama Administration's America's Great Outdoors program, an initiative intended to reconnect the public with the outdoors. The Upper and Lower Table Rocks were one of 101 projects selected nationwide for the program, and one of two in Oregon. BLM officials have requested the Board of Commissioners sign a letter of support for the next phase, in which BLM would acquire another 1,990 acres.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at

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