▶️ Central Cascades Wilderness Permit considered successful…except for no-shows


Friday marked the last day of the Deschutes National Forest enforcing its wilderness permit system for the season.

The Central Cascades Wilderness Permit System was implemented in May, requiring day-use and overnight permits throughout the Mount Washington, Mount Jefferson, and Three Sisters Wildnerness areas.

Jean Nelson-Dean with the Deschutes National Forest says the permit system was an overall success.

“The feedback overall was really positive,” Nelson-Dean said.

It was a good first-go for a lot of adventurous people.

“We got 57,000 people almost out there on day-use permits,” Nelson-Dean said. “And about 24,000 people on overnight trips.”

Reservations were required for popular trails like Devils Lake, Green Lakes, and Tam McArthur.

Nelson-Dean says immediate improvements were seen.

“I think we certainly saw improvements in terms of garbage, those kinds of things, and those behaviors,” Nelson-Dean said. “There was just less conflict, less stress out there when people when people weren’t fighting over places and things and had a little bit more freedom to explore the wilderness without a lot of other people.”

However, the purpose of the permit system is to make a long-term difference.

“Our goal is meeting that balance of access for folks and also making sure that we’re maintaining those wildernesses,” Nelson-Dean said. “So generations from now can still have a wilderness experience.”

Nelson-Dean says only 13 wilderness citations were handed out this season, not all having to do with the permit system, but there was one common problem.

“No-shows,” Nelson-Dean said. “The number of people who made advanced reservations and then failed to show up.”

52% of reservations were made in advance of the season, and 27% were made during the 7-day rolling window.

Nelson-Dean says winter will be spent looking at data from this summer to nail down what improvements need to be made.

The permit system will be in-affect next season and for seasons to come.


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