▶️ Campers turn blind eye to closures; resorts welcome visitors

By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

A lot of people went camping in Central Oregon this Memorial Day weekend.

In many areas, they camped in places that weren’t officially open.

Where campgrounds are locked and gated, no problem. But those left unlocked or where gates are open to provide access boat ramps, visitors just rolled in and camped without paying fees and without any kind of services.

Campers jammed into closed campgrounds at Crane Prairie Reservoir and Lava Lake.

It appeared the majority brought self-contained RVs and weren’t inconvenienced by closed restrooms, lack of drinking water or non-existent garbage service.

The Jenkins family from Bend enjoyed their weekend at Rock Creek Campground even though it was technically closed.

“We went fishing yesterday. We caught nothing. We had s’mores last night and told campfire stories,” said Rafael Jenkins.

“You can do things that you’re not always doing at your house like watching TV,” said Rafael’s brother. “You can go fishing. Jump into the lake.”

The forest service opened day-use areas, trailheads and boat ramps before Memorial Day weekend, which may have led some to believe everything was open.

Crews are working through procedures for opening Forest Service campgrounds for the season — such as testing water supplies and clearing hazard trees.

Meanwhile, private resorts are welcoming visitors. Crane Prairie Resort’s RV campground with its water, power and sewer hookups was completely sold out.

The resort says every fishing boat, canoe, kayak and stand up paddleboard in its fleet was rented over the weekend.

“We made sure everyone was wearing masks in the store, on the docks and whenever we were launching the boats,” said Dillon Burns, a Crane Prairie Resort employee.

In one closed campground, we found bags of trash piled up against a locked Dumpster.

The trash is already beginning to stink and there is no telling when it will be hauled away.

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