Linn County campgrounds are closed to the public although boat launches, day use areas and hiking trails are currently open, according to Parks Director Brian Carroll.
Benton County spokeswoman Lili’a Neville said parks and natural areas there remain open, but Salmonberry Campground and a fishing cabin on the Alsea River are closed.
The Benton County RV Park at the county fairgrounds is open for business.
“We have gated off the campgrounds that we can,” Carroll said. “At the day use areas, the entrance may be gated, but people can walk in, although they should be aware that most restrooms are closed.”
Carroll said some restrooms were going to remain open, but soap dispensers and toilet paper holders were stolen from others, so those restrooms will remain closed.
Popular Clear Lake Resort about 40 miles east of Sweet Home — including the lodge, campgrounds and boat rentals — is closed.
Carroll said large picnic shelters throughout the county parks system are closed per Gov. Kate Brown’s executive order banning mass gatherings. Also closed are the Linn County Historical Museum and Moyer House in Brownsville.
Carroll said McDowell Creek Falls east of Lebanon is open, but he encourages people to be vigilant about social distancing if they choose to hike the trails there.
“I went out this weekend to see how people were behaving,” Carroll said. “If someone on the trail saw another person, they gave them a wide berth. If people were getting into or out of their cars, they gave each other plenty of space. People were being very respectful of each other.”
Carroll said there are plenty of places where people can enjoy the outdoors, such as sitting by a river or reservoir.
Linn County campgrounds were scheduled to open on a partial basis — with blocks of camping spaces — during spring break, Carroll said.
“We had some folks camping at River Bend over the weekend, and then they had to leave on Monday,” Carroll said.
Because no one knows how long the governor’s COVID-19 orders will be in place, Carroll said the county is making reservation refunds week by week.
“We didn’t want to cancel reservations for months out just in case the governor lifts her order in a few weeks,” Carroll said. “That would really create a problem.”
Currently, Linn County is not taking any campground reservations through May. Carroll said if the orders are lifted, the county will immediately begin taking reservations for those months. Reservations for later in the summer are still being accepted.
Carroll said he has a staff of 13 full-time employees and summer staff was about to come on board.
“We will be busy with maintenance projects, and we have a large new playground being constructed at Waterloo County Park,” Carroll said. “Normally, we are swamped with getting parks open this time of year.”
Carroll said Cascadia State Park day use and camping spaces and the U.S. Forest Service campgrounds along the South Santiam River near Cascadia are closed.
Linn County parks are funded almost entirely outside the county’s general fund budget, with fees and marine and camping tax allocations totaling more than $2 million annually.
“This could be a big hit financially,” Carroll said.
“Our natural areas, parks and trails are open as long as people following social distancing,” Benton County's Neville said. “We have closed play structures at three parks.”
Although the county parks remain open, Neville, like Carroll, encourages social distancing among parks users.
The city of Corvallis has closed the Osborn Aquatic Center and Majestic Theatre to the public through April 28.
All recreation events, activities, classes and rehearsals scheduled by Corvallis Parks and Recreation have been canceled through April 28, including programs offered by the Corvallis Community Center, which is closed for renovation but had been hosting programs at other locations.
Outside organizations that booked these facilities for rental events can cancel without penalty by contacting the Corvallis Parks and Recreation Department at 541-766-6918.
Benton County has taken the following actions:
• The online booking reservation system has been taken down to avoid new reservations.
• All reservations for Salmonberry Campground, Alsea Guard Station and park shelters have been canceled until May 8. This date may be extended.
• All special use permits have been canceled until May 8.
• Reservations that are canceled through the end of May are receiving full refunds, including deposits (if taken).
• Restrooms at Hyak, Beazell, Fort Hoskins, Bellfountain and Alsea Corridor parks and the Clemens and Alsea boat ramps will remain open and will see increased cleaning.
For more information, visit https://www.co.benton.or.us/parks/page/reservations.
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