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BLM: Yellowbottom may be closed for season

The Bureau of Land Management’s website offers Yellowbottom Campground visitors picturesque opportunities to “spend a relaxing night of camping among some of the largest trees in Oregon.”

Yet the very trees that make the popular recreation spot 20 miles northeast of Sweet Home special may also prevent it from being a destination this summer.

The Northwest Oregon District BLM announced in April that Yellowbottom’s seasonal opening, which usually takes place in early May, would be delayed because of the risk of certain trees falling. Now, according to district spokesperson Sarah Bennett, the BLM expects a full shuttering for the entire camping season.

The campground and day-use site will remain closed while BLM staff addresses those issues, and no new reservations will be accepted until they’re resolved.

“The safety of our visitors is a top priority,” Northwest Oregon District manager Dennis Teitzel, said. “We need time to responsibly reduce risks to the public.”

Bennett said that some of the on-site Douglas fir trees were already reaching the end of their expected lifespans when area storms over the winter damaged them further and compromised their structures.

“We weren’t necessarily expecting that to happen,” she said.

She added that BLM has already felled trees posing hazards to the nearby Quartzville Drive. Other trees of concern have been marked as well. BLM will spend the rest of the year closely monitoring them and developing a more specific plan.

“We have more monitoring and assessment of the particular trees to do before we can really come up with a more concrete plan for how we’re going to mitigate the hazards, how long that would take, and when we might be able to reopen,” Bennett said. “We don’t have an exact timetable yet. We’re still evaluating the status of the trees and what’s the best way to mitigate the safety hazard.”

Therefore, an opening date remains unclear.

“We just really don’t know,” Bennett said. “I can’t say that it’s going to open next spring, but I also can’t say it won’t be open next spring.”

In typical years, Yellowbottom offers a one-mile hiking trail and access to Quartzville Creek Wild and Scenic River, as well as a takeoff point to explore nearby recreation trails. For more information, visit https://www.blm.gov/visit/yellowbottom-recreation-site.