State parks day-use areas open, camping still closed

Oregon State Park Ranger Supervisor Brian Fowler removed the barricade blocking the entrance to South Beach State Park on Friday morning, May 15. Many day-use areas have opened, but camping remains closed. (Photo by Cheri Brubaker)

OREGON COAST — Oregon Parks and Recreation Department spokesperson Chris Havel confirmed that many Oregon State Park day-use areas are open. Barricades were removed starting May 15.

But camping remains closed, according to the state parks’ website,, and it will remain closed “at least through, and including June 8.”

Havel advised state park visitors to check that website to verify openings and services available before traveling to a state park. He also suggested visitors “bring everything you need, including trash bags to pack out your trash, in order to keep expenses at the park as low possible.”

Usually, state parks would hire 400 temporary employees statewide. Before the closures, Havel said, only 70 were hired. “One of the issues we have is we’re very short staffed, and we not able to hire the crews we would normally hire. We’re left with a skeleton crew, and even with limited services, it’s a challenge.”

Havel said last weekend went fairly well in terms of the day-use areas reopening. “We had a couple spots where there was more crowding than we would like to see,” he reported, citing D River State Recreation Site in Lincoln City, which saw heavy use. “But that was the exception,” he noted.

There was a tendency for visitors to clump around attractions, Havel added. “We’re handling that with signage and reminders to cover your face, keep your distance — all the things people are hearing.”

Havel explained there are three things to consider when opening a park. “First, is the community ready for visitors? Second, can we manage the park according to the health guidelines from OHA. And third, do we have the staff and supplies?

“Even if you hit the first two,” he said, “you still need the money to run a park. That’s what we’re running into right now. We don’t expect to be able to do any hiring to get through the summer.”

Havel asked the public for patience and understanding as they work to open and operate state parks.


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