BEND, OR -- In response to damage caused by overcrowding, three Cultus Lake campgrounds accessible only by boat will stop offering first-come, first-serve camping next year. Beginning August 1, 2019, advanced reservations will be required through Recreation.gov for Little Cove, Big Cove and West Cultus (pictured) campgrounds.
Kassidy Kern, with the Deschutes National Forest, says some campers get frustrated when they go through the trouble of boating to the locations, only to find all designated sites full, "People will load up, get all the way over to these sites, and then there won’t be any sites left and they’ll sort of make their own. There used to be distinctive campsites in these areas, and really not any more. Now it’s just one, essentially, huge group camp." She tells KBND News that's created significant resource damage, "There’s just been a lot of feet and a lot of bodies tromping on that ground and so what we need to do is get in there and make these sites more distinct, and then do some rehab work on the soils and the vegetation."
She says requiring advance reservations will also create more turn-over of campsites, "Because what we also see is folks who are out there for the whole summer; they’ll just have their stuff out there for a very long period of time. And, that’s also not fair to the people who want to come in and have a new and different experience."
The change is still a year out, "To give people who have utilized this site for decades, maybe, time to adjust to this. And, it will give us more time to educate the public as to why we’re doing this." Kern says camp hosts will help educate visitors and enforce the new rules.