Bureau of Land Management (BLM) officials announced on Tuesday that the Yellowbottom campground southwest of Salem will remain closed due to safety concerns caused by aging trees. The Yellowbottom Day Use Area, however, will be open to the public.
The closure announcement follows a mid-April decision to delay the opening through May, when officials cited aging trees as safety concerns. After the April decision, BLM canceled and refunded all campsite reservations through May and stopped accepting reservations for later in the season.
Approximately 20 miles northeast of Sweet Home, Quartzville Creek offers a beautiful campground where visitors can enjoy swimming, fishing, and sleeping under a canopy of ancient Douglas fir trees.
“The campground is in an area of old trees,” Sarah Bennett of BLM said in mid-April. “We’ve been monitoring over the years as these trees reach the end of their expected lifespans, and with the severe weather this winter, some of those trees have been significantly damaged throughout the course of the winter.”
The BLM officials have decided to extend the campground closure after monitoring the situation for a month and a half. Prior to the campground’s scheduled spring opening, the BLM recreation staff inspected the site and identified multiple safety hazards.
We understand Yellowbottom is a special place and provides a unique camping experience,” said Amanda Hoffman, field manager for the BLM Cascades Field Office.
“Unfortunately, these large trees are aging to a point where they put the safety of visitors at risk. We appreciate everyone’s patience as we consider next steps for this recreation site.”
According to its website, Yellowbottom offers a one-mile hiking trail, access to Quartzville Creek Wild and Scenic River, and a takeoff point to explore nearby recreation trails.
The small campground contains campsites to accommodate single campsites for tents or small trailers but is not recommended for large RVs or trailers due to the one-lane site road and tight turning radius.
Nearby attractions include multiple Forest Service trails into the Middle Santiam Wilderness and the Quartzville National Back Country Byway.
While the closure of Yellowbottom campground may be disappointing for outdoor enthusiasts, it is important to remember that campground safety should always be a top priority. Aging trees and other natural hazards can pose significant risks to campers if not addressed properly.
This situation highlights the importance of regular maintenance and monitoring of campgrounds, not only by the managing authorities but also by visitors who can report any potential hazards they observe.
In the meantime, campers can explore alternative campgrounds or day-use areas in Oregon, ensuring they follow safety guidelines and leave no trace principles to help preserve the natural environment for future generations.
Featured image from Yellowbottom Recreation Site.