TRAIL, Ore. — Whether you can access closed outdoor recreation sites in Southern Oregon depends on which federal agency is in charge.
Crater Lake National Park is strictly enforcing its closure, but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is paying little attention to kayakers who duck under a locked gate to gain access to the Rogue River below Lost Creek Dam, The Mail Tribune reported.
Enforcement also varies by national forest.
At Diamond Lake on the Umpqua National Forest, signs informed people the boat ramps were closed. But at Applegate Lake on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, boat ramps were closed by locked gates.
At Diamond Lake, “people are thinking they don’t have to pay, but they’re still using the boat ramps and parking lots,” said Rick Rockholt, manager of the Diamond Lake Resort. “And as far as I know, no one’s been hassled.”
The resort remains open, although it operates under a U.S. Forest Service permit.
Crater Lake Chief Ranger Curt Dimmick said rangers were catching about a half-dozen people a day inside the park, and escorting them out.
“People for the most part are cooperative and understanding,” Dimmick said. “In some cases, though, they’re actually moving the barrier and driving through.”
Jim Buck, the Corps of Engineers’ Rogue Basin operations manager, says facilities around Lost Creek Dam are officially closed, but they are not telling people who walk in to fish or boat to leave.
That was fine with members of a kayaking class from Southern Oregon University, who recently took their kayaks under a locked gate to get to the boat ramp on the Rogue River near the Cole Rivers Fish Hatchery.
“Nobody seems to know what’s shut down, why and the specifics of it,” said 21-year-old SOU kayaker Luke Renard of Medford.
They kayakers could have put in legally a half-mile downstream at Casey State Park’s ramp, which is open. But they chose to operate on the idea of no harm, no foul.
“What we’re doing, technically, is trespassing?” said Jess Huntley, 21, of Ashland. “I didn’t know that. But we’re still going to go.”
When a white vehicle drove by, Huntley thought they were busted.
“Did you see that U.S. government truck drive by?” he said. “This is supposed to be closed, but that guy didn’t do anything.”