Alcohol is now banned in two of Oregon's most popular off-road-vehicle areas under a new rule meant to make the sand dunes safer for all drivers.
The ban covers specific sections within the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area near Reedsport and the Sand Lake Recreational Area near Florence.
Most all-terrain-vehicle riders will be introduced to the new rule during the Memorial Day weekend, when up to 10,000 ATVs will be operating within the Oregon Dunes and Sand Lake, the U.S. Forest Service reports.
Prohibition began May — and will remain in effect indefinitely.
— Possessing an alcoholic beverage is prohibited on or within 200 feet of all designated off-highway-vehicle areas, including campsites. The rule includes alcohol left in vehicles and tents, but does not include any legal drinking done prior to entering the closed areas.
The maximum penalty for a violation is &
36;5,000 and up to six months in prison.
Siuslaw National Forest Supervisor Gloria Brown signed the rule to address a serious public and employee health and safety risk, according to the Forest Service.
Large groups and a party atmosphere, including drunkenness and nudity, occur particularly on summer holiday weekends, contributing to assaults and driving accidents, the Forest Service states.
Young hunters will get a chance to hone their shooting skills May 31 during a special free youth day at the Denman Wildlife Area in White City.
Kids 16 years and younger are invited to try their skills at archery, sporting clays and pellet-gun shooting as well as wildlife pelt identification, game calling, hatchet throwing and fishing.
Emphasis will be placed on education and safety. Lunch will be provided.
The youth day begins at 8:30 a.m. and is centered around the Denman office at 1495 E. Gregory Road.
The youth day is sponsored and organized by the Oregon Hunters Association's Rogue Valley Chapter. Co-sponsors include the National Wild Turkey Federation and the Black Bird Shopping Center.
Southern Oregonians will have one last shot tonight at commenting on the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's hunting tag proposals for 2003.
Agency biologists will provide an overview and take public comment during a meeting of the Oregon Hunters Association's Grants Pass chapter.
The two-hour meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the Wild River Pub and Pizza, 533 N.E. F St., Grants Pass.
Those who want to view the various proposals for all the hunts and tags for 2003 can telephone the ODFW's Wildlife Division at 1-503-872-5260, or check the agency's Web site at:
Managers on the lower Deschutes River are urging boaters to stop treating the river and its banks as a toilet.
This summer, river rangers will begin enforcing a regulation that requires people on overnight trips to have their own portable toilet.
The rule was in place last summer, but officials granted a season of education and did not issue citations to those caught without a bucket.
This year, however, anyone without a portable toilet will be subject to a fine of up to &
36;500, according to John Griley, lead river ranger for the Bureau of Land Management.
A similar rule is already enforced on the Wild and Scenic Section of the Rogue River.
Rangers say disposal of human waste along the lower Deschutes is one of the biggest problems the BLM faces because it threatens to pollute the water, create messy campsites and fill up outhouses at an alarming rate.
In the arid environment of the High Desert, solid human waste decomposes slowly. Improper disposal can harm soil, vegetation and human health.
Because so many people visit the lower Deschutes during the summer, burying human waste is not considered a viable option.
The BLM also plans on cracking down on illegal fly-fishing and rafting guides working the lower Deschutes without the required federal license.
J.C. Hanf, natural resource manager for the BLM's Prineville office, says his rangers intend to run several sting operations this summer to nab illegal guides.
Unlicensed guides are considered a chronic problem on the lower Deschutes, where the BLM has placed a cap at the current level of 109 active commercial guides.
The licensed guides pay the BLM — percent of their gross receipts each summer and carry guiding insurance. The only way to get a license is to buy an existing licensed guiding business.
Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 776-4470, or e-mail