Foresters want public's help defining recreational needs

If you enjoy camping, river running, hiking, hunting or any other recreational activity in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, Supervisor Scott Conroy and his staff want to hear from you.

The forest staff is launching an analysis of its recreational offerings as part of what will be a five-year program to improve the quality and management of its recreation sites.

A 40-plus-page draft document that examines the forest's 208 developed recreation sites, including campgrounds, trail heads and rentals, is expected to be released next week. Of those sites, 17 would either be closed or partially shut down, officials said. A list of those sites is not yet available.

Seven meetings are scheduled for southwestern Oregon beginning late in November to gather public comments on the draft.

"We want feedback from the public to see if we are missing anything," Conroy said, later adding that the goal is to focus on sites that are in greater demand.

The forest's "recreational niche" is the fact it includes the Cascade Mountains to the coast, making it unique in Oregon and Washington, Conroy said.

Although much of the recreational focus is on developed sites, dispersed sites, also known as unimproved sites, are part of the forest's recreational niche, observed Tim Chesley, the recreation, engineering and lands staff officer for the forest.

The draft focuses on river corridors, concentrated use areas, unimproved remote sites and forest roads.

Program goals include:

­u Focusing resources on the most appropriate recreation opportunities to meet changing public interests.

  • Maintaining or enhancing visitor satisfaction with the sites and services provided.
  • Meeting quality health and safety standards at all developed recreation sites.
  • Making the program financially sustainable and environmentally sound.

With expected improvements, fees at up to 35 sites will likely be increased, officials said. Fees vary, depending on services provided.

"If we don't provide a certain level of service, we don't charge a fee. Period," Conroy said of unimproved sites.

Public participation in the process is a major key, reiterated forest spokeswoman Patty Burel.

"They will give us input about the draft on whether it makes sense as well as things we didn't consider that would make sense," she said.

Once the draft is released, the public comment period will continue through Jan. 7, she said.

The goal is to have the five-year program in place by March, she added.

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 776-4496 or e-mail him at

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