The Oregon State Parks Department opened some parks in the middle of the state on Wednesday, but all the state parks on the South Coast remain closed at least until May 11.
The parks that did reopen Tuesday only did so for day-use operations. The State Parks website said other parks would slowly return to offering services the week of May 11. Camping will remain closed until at least May 25.
Parks that did reopen Wednesday included three in the Willamette Valley — State Capitol State Park in Salem, Tryon Creek in Portland and Willamette Mission near Keizer — and four boat ramps further east — Mongold Boat Ramp at Detroit Lake, The Cove Palisades boat ramp at Lake Billy Chinook near Culver, the Prineville Reservoir boat ramp and the Joseph Stewart boat ramp on Last Creek Lake near Shady Cove. Pilot Butte in Bend reopened to pedestrians, but no vehicles.
According to the State Parks website, decisions on when specific parks will reopen will be guided by Gov. Kate Brown’s reopening framework, which prioritizes public health and the local communities’ readiness to welcome visitors.
Points to consider include where parks can reopen without straining nearby communities, how visitors and staff can be kept as safe as possible given reduced service and staffing, and how workers can keep facilities clean, allow for adequate physical distancing and monitoring parking lots, among other operational duties.
Staffing will remain limited in the parks.
“Please understand that service levels may not be what you are used to, and areas and building within the park may be closed,” the message on the website reads. “Visitors should also expect new restrictions that discourage group gatherings and congestion.”
The website urges people to stay home if they are sick, only visit nearby parks (within 50 miles of home), only visit with members of their own household, bring all supplies (food, water and hand cleanser) needed for a short trip, and leave and come back another time if a park appears crowded.
Visitors also are told to wear a face covering (homemade face masks are fine), stay at least 6 feet away from people who aren’t in their own household (further apart is better), cover their cough with a tissue or the inside of the elbow, pack out everything they bring with them (called leaving no trace), stick to low-risk activities to reduce stress on local emergency response and health care systems, keep their visits short (especially since restrooms and other buildings may be closed) and watch for information signs in the parks.