BEND, OR -- The Forest Service is looking for public input on how to manage a growing number of visitors to local wilderness areas. They'll host two open house meetings, this weekend, "To look at visitor-use management strategies in our five wilderness areas. We share four of them: Mount Jefferson, Mount Washington, Three Sisters (pictured) and Diamond Peak," says Jean Nelson Dean, with the Deschutes National Forest, "And then, Waldo Lake, which is managed completely by the Willamette National Forest."
Nelson Dean says a management plan is necessary because of their growing popularity, "We’ve had increasing visitation, actually, throughout most of these wilderness areas." And, more visitors typically means more damage. She tells KBND News, "We have a responsibility to manage these wildernesses differently than other parts of the National Forest, so we want to kind of begin the discussion with our communities around what type of strategies we should be looking at. And also, just some communication around the impact and trends we’re seeing in these wilderness areas."
Development of a new management plan is in the very early stages, but Nelson Dean says they've gone through it before. "About 20-25 years ago, the Willamette and the Deschutes did a joint planning effort. Out of that, the Willamette National Forest actually did create two limited-entry areas, where there’s a certain number of folks that can go into an area at a time. So, that is one action that we’d consider. We just need to address this now because we’re seeing resource impacts that really can’t recover if they continue."
The first open house will be held Friday at 5:30 p.m., at the National Forest office on Deschutes Market Road. A second is scheduled for Saturday at 9 a.m. Click HERE for details.