Beginning this May, the Deschutes and Willamette national forests will implement the limited-entry permit system for day and overnight use in the Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Washington, and Three Sisters wildernesses. Permits will be available on Recreation.gov beginning April 7.
The two forests hosted a public comment period on an associated special recreation permit fee that began in October 9, 2019 and ended January 10, 2020. A wide range of public comments was received on the special recreation permit fee.
The forests have decided at this time, though the limited-entry system will be implemented, no special recreation permit fee will be charged.
Wilderness day-use will be managed with a limited-entry permit system at 19 of the 79 trailheads across the Mount Jefferson, Mount Washington, and Three Sisters wilderness areas from the Friday before Memorial Day through the last Friday in September.
Overnight wilderness use will be managed with a limited-entry permit system across the Mount Jefferson, Mount Washington, and Three Sisters wilderness areas (all trailheads) from the Friday before Memorial Day through the last Friday in September. In the Mount Jefferson, Mount Washington and Three Sisters wilderness areas no fires will be allowed at or above 5,700 feet.
According to the Forest Service, the permitting system is being implemented to manage the impact of increased wilderness traffic.
“Wilderness staff and managers are seeing substantial increases in the number of visitors to wilderness, which is impacting many of the more popular sites,” The Forest Service reported. “There has been a substantial increase in visitation to the Central Cascade wilderness areas in the past five years. Visitation to the entire Three Sisters Wilderness increased by over 180 percent, with some trailheads seeing increases of 300-500 percent over the same time period. Current management is not successfully addressing the impacts associated with growing use. Impacts from visitors include degradation and loss of meadow and riparian vegetation, tree damage, presence of human and dog waste, widening and braiding of trails, and compaction of sites.”
While the permit fee is not currently being charged, a processing cost of $1 per day-use permit and $6 per overnight permit will be charged through Recreation.gov. This processing charge is an administrative cost and does not return to the two National Forests for management.
“We appreciate the broad and diverse public input we received on the special recreation permit fee since the fee was proposed last October. As we implement the limited-entry system this year, we will continue to consider the valuable public input received during the environmental analysis and fee proposal processes and adapt, as needed, to best manage these wilderness resources for current and future generations,” said Holly Jewkes, forest supervisor for the Deschutes National Forest.
Visit Limited Entry System for general information about the limited entry system.