Lewis & Clark Timberlands to require recreation permits

Permits will be required for recreation on Lewis & Clark Timberlands.

Starting in June, people who like to recreate on Lewis & Clark Timberlands will need a permit.

Since the mid-1990s, the timberlands have been open and free for recreation from hiking and biking to bow hunting. It will stay that way, said Mark Morgans, the area manager of Lewis & Clark Timberlands. No costs will be associated with the permit and the requirement will only apply to property in Oregon.

The permit idea came from a local desire to find a better way to communicate via text about closures, safety issues and any other policy changes, Morgans said.

Better communication could have been used in situations like last fall when the property was closed for fire danger, Morgans said. After a bout of rain, the fire hazard was low enough to allow about a week’s worth of recreation.

“But we had no method to be able to (communicate) that,” Morgans said. “We could have opened up a week during bow hunting season. There’s a significant portion of our county where that’s what they do. That’s their sport, they wait all year for it.”

Providing a larger feeling of community and sense of security is another benefit to asking people to sign up for the annual permit, Morgans said. Someone will be hired to patrol the 140,000 acres of timberland in Oregon to enforce the new permit system.

While as area manager he rarely receives complaints about suspicious or illegal behavior on the property, Morgans said many users have said they would appreciate the oversight.

“People were saying they would feel more secure out there, knowing we know who is out there,” he said.

Though 140,000 acres is a hefty amount of acreage to patrol, Morgans said outside of hunting season most visitors stay around the perimeter within a couple of miles, making the task more manageable.

Morgans said the permit application is not intended to be “intrusive.” Outside of providing a working email or textable phone number, people should feel at liberty to share however little or as much as they want on the application. Anyone caught without a permit, however, will be barred from ever receiving one in the future, Morgans said.

But getting a permit shouldn’t be much of a hassle, he said. People can sign up for free online on the Greenwood Resources website once the it launches in May, or scan a QR code with a smartphone at any of the property entrances to get a permit on site.

“Forest landowners have a responsibility, unwritten or not, to benefit the community by allowing legal use of their timberland,” Morgans said. “It’s a philosophical thing.”

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