Campers who overstay their welcome in Sno-Parks near Mount Bachelor are being asked to leave.
Camping is permitted for 14 days in Sno-Parks, but longer stays cause problems for other users which, in turn, attracts law enforcement.
The High Desert Rippers Facebook page lit up the past few weeks with comments and pictures of people camping beyond 14 days in the Kapka Butte and Wanoga Sno-Parks.
Campers who stay too long restrict the Oregon Department of Transportation’s ability to plow snow out of the Sno-Park parking lots and that is something a lot of people notice.
“When our plows come in we start in the center and plow out, so what happens is if those vehicles are there long enough, they’ll kind of get a berm. They’ll get landlocked. They’ll kind of become an island in the middle of a Sno-Park,” said Kasey Davey, ODOT public information officer. “It makes it really difficult for us to plow, and it’s unfortunate because those people have to dig themselves out.”
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Leaving berms around parked vehicles means other parking spaces aren’t accessible.
That’s led to frustration on the part of people who buy Sno-Park parking permits, the revenues of which are dedicated to plowing the lots.
“Most of the Sno-Parks are open for camping,” said Justin Ewer, trails program manager for the Deschutes National Forest. “Dutchman is the exception. A couple other Sno-Parks have vehicle size limitations.”
Last week, Forest Service law enforcement officers contacted a handful of campers in the Kapka Butte and Wanoga Sno-Park parking lots and ordered them to leave.
“I’m glad that something was done. I believe this is for daily users up here,” said Onay Weaver, a snowmobile guide for Central Oregon Adventures. “There are laws in effect for limited time and all that. The more that we can all work together and be out here enjoying all this, the better it’s going to work for everyone.”
Even on Wednesday, a week after the sweep, I found a couple of camp trailers that have not moved in several days.
Deep snow on top of trailers and personal items — such as bags of dog food and garbage cans — stored around and under trailers suggests some campers have stayed or plan to stay for a while.