The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is implementing management actions to deal with safety concerns arising from illicit activities and disturbances by campers at the Elkhorn Wildlife Area campground.
The campground is designed for hunters during hunting seasons but has been open to the general public with the purchase of a wildlife area parking permit. This open access policy is in jeopardy due to illicit activities and disturbances that the wildlife area manager reports as an on-going issue.
ODFW has blocked access to secluded campsites on the northwest end of the campground which are nearest to the wildlife area office, facilities and manager’s residence. This will help distribute campers to areas that are more visible to staff and law enforcement if problems occur. Other management actions include increased signage to better communicate a standard for visitor behavior, expectations and a monitoring presence.
A gate along the driveway to the wildlife area headquarters will be added this summer and will be closed after business hours to prevent driving access beyond the campground. This will help provide security for the area’s headquarters and manager’s family by closing access to ATVs and vehicles during non-business hours.
ODFW is working with Oregon State Police and local law enforcement to increase the frequency of communication and reporting of incidents. ODFW presented this information to the Union County Commissioners on June 5 along with alternative actions including the possibility of a closure of the campground to overnight stays.
Several nearby campgrounds (Pilcher Creek, Wolf Creek, and National Forest dispersed camping) offer opportunities for the public as alternatives to camping at Elkhorn.
ODFW operates the campground under its jurisdiction with aid from Pittman-Robertson Funds which are a tax on hunting equipment paid by hunters.