Disabled vets, active military to get forest freebies

I heard a rumor about a new law that disabled veterans can get free state parks camping starting next year. Is this true?

— B.C., Medford

Just like all good rumors, there's a nugget of truth in there, and we think we found it for you, B.C.

Gov. Kate Brown recently signed a new law that requires the Oregon Department of Forestry, not the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department, to provide free use of camping and other recreation uses on its lands for disabled veterans.

It also calls for military members in active service to get free use of state forestry camping and recreation sites on Memorial Day, Independence Day and Veterans Day.

These new opportunities, which take effect Jan. 1, were spelled out in Senate Bill 116, which was co-sponsored by outgoing state Rep. Sal Esquivel, R-Medford. The bill breezed through this past session of the Oregon Legislature, garnering no opposition in either the House or Senate, legislative records show.

Brown signed the bill into law Aug. 16.

Unfortunately, local disabled vets are going to have to do a little traveling to take part in this new program.

State forestry's main recreation sites are in the Tillamook State Forest in the northwest corner of the state, according to the department's interactive map of recreation sites. Also, a smattering of state forestry campgrounds are in the West Cascades east of Salem.

— Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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