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USFS to charge fees, limit access to five Oregon wildernesses

By Karl Findling, OHA Lands Director


After a year-long process considering visitor use management strategies for five wilderness areas in the central Cascades, the Deschutes and Willamette National Forests will require use permits and the purchase of overnight permits, with quotas in place for the Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Washington, Three Sisters, Waldo Lake and Diamond Peak wildernesses. Quotas have been set for all 79 trailheads, of which 19 will have conditions imposed. Fees have not yet been determined.

OHA provided objections to the plan, both in writing and at meetings. OHA maintained that a tag for any species should serve as a permit, as well as for scouting and game retrieval; otherwise hunters are getting double-taxed to hunt public lands. OHA stated, “Hunters use the landscape much differently than recreationalists — the largest user group — and are very low impact. Many never use trailheads, and are dynamic on the landscape, like the animals we pursue.”

In response, the Forest Service exempted the High Cascades Buck hunt 119A and general season archers (currently, only deer; elk were not exempted — an omission USFS is aware of).

The permits and quotas are aimed at curbing resource impacts from increasing use, including damage to meadows and riparian areas, tree damage, presence of human and dog waste, widening and braiding of trails, and site compaction.


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