Following a wet and cool spring, Oregonians are eager to get outside this summer to hike, camp, boat and explore. Several state agencies and organizations are sharing best practices on how to keep the adventures safe, for people and Oregon’s scenic landscape.
Search and Rescue
State Search and Rescue (SAR) Coordinator Scott Lucas emphasized the need for people to be prepared and equipped before they head outdoors. “Our SAR teams have rescued many folks who have a certain idea of the outdoors based on what they’ve seen on reality TV,” said Lucas. “While eager to explore and adventure, these folks are often inexperienced, overconfident and unprepared for the reality of the situation. In the summer months, we find people who set out for a hike wearing flip flops and shorts and carrying no water. They might take an unmarked trail or get disoriented, and they could be lost for days.”
Lucas stressed the importance of checking the basics like weather and road conditions, packing the proper gear, and confirming the destination is open before heading out. “Many of the trails and parks people are familiar with are closed from wildfire or flood damages or from recent weather including high mountain snow,” he said. “Others haven’t been maintained for the last two years due to the pandemic. People need to respect these closures and stay out. Climbing over barriers or going past boundaries puts them at risk.”
He added that every SAR mission takes away resources – including SAR teams, volunteers, gear and time – from the next rescue. “Know before you go may seem like obvious advice, but it makes a big difference when it comes to staying safe.”
Oregon State Marine Board
Sunshine and warmer weather leads many people to the water. The Oregon State Marine Board (OSMB) is advocating preparation and planning through its online tools and resources that let people check water levels, obstructions, tide information, local regulations and boating access before they head out.
“Playing in and around the water is a lot of fun but it comes with risks,” said OSMB Public Information Officer Ashley Massey. “Most incidents and fatalities are caused by falling overboard or capsizing into cold water without a life jacket or the necessary skills for self-rescue. People need to always scout ahead, mind the tide, decide on the safest route and expect the unexpected.”
Oregon Department of Forestry
With more than half of the state under extreme drought conditions, the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) said the number one precaution recreationists can take this summer is to follow posted fire restrictions. The agency offers a searchable map of public fire restrictions on its website.
“As we move further into fire season, campfire bans and restrictions will likely be in place, and these need to be observed to avoid starting new wildfires,” said ODF Public Affairs Specialist Jason Cox. “If a site does allow for a campfire, people need to build them in identified rings or fire pits and make sure the fire is fully out—drown, stir, and repeat until ashes are cool to the touch—before they leave.”
Oregon Parks and Recreation Department
Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) encourages explorers to first check Oregon’s Interagency Recreation Site Status Map to confirm their destination is open, learn about any fire restrictions and make sure they have the proper permits.
OPRD Associate Director Chris Havel encouraged anyone visiting the outdoors get to know and follow the seven principals of Leave No Trace, a set of actions that can minimize impacts on plants, animals, other people and entire ecosystems. “These seven guidelines boil down to protecting the resources, the things that call the parks home, and all the other people that hope to come and recreate behind you and have that same sense of discovery and excitement.”
Oregon Office of Emergency Management
“We want to make sure Oregonians have the information they need to make decisions for themselves and their families to safely enjoy all the incredible outdoor activities our state has to offer,” said Oregon Office of Emergency Management Director Andrew Phelps.