How to recreate responsibly at public lands

BAKER CITY, Ore. — One of many opportunities for outdoor recreation in Eastern Oregon is the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, which has guidelines for responsible recreation. 

Recreating responsibly ensures that all visitors to the Forest have a good experience,” said Brian Anderson, Wallowa Mountains District Ranger. “Picking up your trash, adhering to stay limits, and not storing or caching items on public lands are keystones of responsible recreation.” 

Forest visitors cannot cache personal property for more than 72 hours, stay in the camp for longer than 14 days straight, build structures, cut or damage trees or leave campsites dirty. Anderson says all of these guidelines are to benefit the overall experience for visitors and wildlife. 

Forest Service employees are extracting caches and impounding camps in violations with law enforcement. They are also removing structures that were built illegally. 

Cached camps are banned because they often attract wild animals, who eat the food and often destroy the rest. The more often animals get in, the more they get used to human food. This can be dangerous for future visitors. 

Visitors are not allowed to build structures because they often become a hazard, either to nearby trees or future visitors. These structures usually degrade quickly, becoming dangerous for people in the campsite later on. 

Staying longer than the 14-day limit is banned so everyone has a chance to visit and enjoy public lands. The Forest Service doesn’t want anyone to monopolize the public lands. 

Leaving behind trash or a dirty camp is banned in order to keep Forest Service staff from spending time cleaning. Diverting staff attention from maintaining and improving the Forest to cleaning after visitors is not ideal, and not the “best use of tax dollars,” according to the press release.