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    Forest Service Makes Decision on Wilderness Permits

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    November 16, 2018
    By now you may have heard that the Deschutes and Willamette National Forests have made a decision about requiring permits to access Wilderness Trails in the Central Cascades.  OET commented on the scoping phase of this project as well as the Environmental Assessment phase, and the Forest Service paid attention to our input, implementing many of our suggestions.  Below is a short Q&A that outlines how the decision will affect equestrians.

    What you WON’T see in the Decision is any mention of fees or reservation procedures.  By law, the Forests must go through a separate process to determine the fees.  We’ll have an opportunity to comment on the fee/procedure proposal in 2019, and we will certainly do so.  None of the permit requirements go into effect until 2020. 

    Here are the highlights:

    Why is this happening?  The Forests are implementing a permit system in order to limit use and stop the degradation of the Wilderness caused by over-use. 

    What is the Permit Season?  Limited-Entry Permits will be required from the Friday before Memorial Day through the end of September. 

    Which trailheads will require permits for day use?  Eleven trailheads in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness, 3 in the Mt. Washington Wilderness, and 16 in the Three Sisters Wilderness will require limited-entry permits for day use.  No trailheads in the Waldo Lake and Diamond Lake Wildernesses will require permits.  The trailheads that don’t require a limited-entry permit will still require you to fill out a free self-issued wilderness permit, just like you do now.  Go to https://www.fs.usda.gov/nfs/11558/www/nepa/105465_FSPLT3_4483291.pdf for a list of the trailheads that will require Wilderness permits.

    What if I’m planning to pack into the Wilderness?  The rules for overnight use are different, so if you’re planning to pack into the Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Washington, or Three Sisters Wilderness, please go to https://www.fs.usda.gov/nfs/11558/www/nepa/105465_FSPLT3_4483291.pdf for more details.

    What if I wake up one morning and want to go for a Wilderness ride?  Forest Service intends to allow a percentage of the limited-entry permits to be available in advance, with the majority of day-use permits available the day before or the day of your trip.

    What about trailer parking?  At trailheads that have traditionally allowed trailer parking, a percentage of the parking spaces will be reserved for trucks and trailers.

    What if I want to go to a horse camp?  Quinn Meadow is the only horse camp that requires both a reservation and a permit to ride the nearby Wilderness Trails.  The Forest Service says we’ll be able to reserve our campsites and our wilderness permits at the same time.

    What about the other horse camps?  You won’t need a day-use permit to enter the Wilderness if you are staying at Box Canyon, Cultus, Three Creek Meadow, Big Meadows, or Whitefish Horse Camps.

    Do I need a permit to go hunting?  You won’t need a Wilderness permit if you have a W. High Cascade deer tag.  You will need one for all other types of hunting.

    How can I find out more?  Go to https://www.fs.usda.gov/nfs/11558/www/nepa/105465_FSPLT3_4483291.pdf

    If you have questions, please let me know at vppubliclands@oregonequestriantrails.org.  Thanks!
    Kim McCarrel