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State closes campgrounds starting in April over virus

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Popular campgrounds in Clatsop County will close in April to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

State agencies announced a temporary closure of campgrounds at state parks, forests and wildlife areas from April 3 through May 8. The state suspended all drop-in camping beginning Thursday, but reservations will continue to be accommodated through April 2.

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Campgrounds at Fort Stevens State Park will close because of the coronavirus.

The closure will affect the large campgrounds and yurt and cabin rentals at Fort Stevens State Park and Nehalem Bay State Park.

State campgrounds are built into relatively small areas by design, according to information from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.

“Maintaining social distance is difficult,” the department noted. “Working with fewer staff and volunteers is becoming a reality, making it difficult to maintain proper cleaning procedures. To support the state goal of reducing transmission of COVID-19, temporary campground closures are necessary.”

The closures will not affect plans people may have to camp at Nehalem Bay over Oregon’s spring break, but park managers have already fielded cancellations as concern about the coronavirus grows.

Ben Cox, park manager of the Nehalem Bay Management Unit, had started to ramp up to meet the expected demand at the campground.

“The phenomenon formerly known as the shoulder season is no longer a thing,” he said. “We get pretty busy starting in March.”

He had brought on seasonal staff earlier than has been typical and had moved shifts around to accommodate the expected influx.

But between the cancellations that have already happened and the state’s decision not to allow any drop-in camping, Cox expects Nehalem Bay will look a little emptier than usual.

Katie Frankowicz is a reporter for The Astorian. Contact her at 971-704-1723 or kfrankowicz@dailyastorian.com.

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