Comment on Possible Rogue River Changes

Rogue River management practices may see dramatic changes in the near future. At a recent Rogue River User's meeting on January 19, 2006, held in Grants Pass, Oregon, river managers talked about possible plans to decrease river trip lengths, eliminate layovers at certain campsites, reserve large camps for large groups, and assign campsites in the 40 mile wild section of the river.

The proposals are similar to the system used on the Middle Fork Salmon, or the partial reservation system used on the Main Salmon river in the wilds of Central Idaho. The Rogue is managed by both the Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service.  The meeting, a brainstorming session, covered a number of topics, including eliminating layover days in six or more of the river's most popular campsite areas, reducing the number of days that people could stay on the Rogue, down from six nights and seven days to four nights and five days, and requiring boaters to move more quickly and adhere to a schedule, as they moved through the 3 sections of the river.   The proposal to assign campsites along the Rogue River appears to be on a very fast track, according to Lloyd Knapp, of the North West Rafters Association. Knapp, who attended the meeting, noted there was no initial question of whether or not assigning campsites should be done. Knapp stated “The meeting started off with the presumption of how the new management proposals should be accomplished. Initial decisions regarding the actual need for the proposed management changes seemed to have been pre-determined.”

The meeting was attended by over thirty commercial outfitters and guides, and only six members of the independent boating public, including three members of North West Rafters Association and three members of the river advocacy group Riverhawks.

The meeting also discussed initiating a reservation system for campsites where people could call in and reserve a campsite months or weeks ahead of time. “Such advanced reservations could easily leave members of the public at a big disadvantage” noted Knapp.

During the meeting, reference was made to a study done several years ago, where 80 of the respondents firmly stated they did not support assigned campsites. “Unfortunately, agency representatives did not know or remember the number of total respondents” Knapp pointed out. “I suggested a thorough, more comprehensive survey should be done. The Forest Service response to this was that this might cost a lot of money. This particular aspect of the proposal is the most frightening to me as there have been way too many “quick fixes” on rivers such as the Rogue that have cost independent paddlers much in the way of camping rights, river access, and quality of the river running experience.”

Discussions also covered limiting the campsites to certain party sizes, so that small groups could not solely occupy a huge beach such as the one at Marial. BLM spokesman Chris Dent mentioned that there had been a few fights and injuries over campsites on the Rogue. “From the recounting of the meeting, it is not clear what problem, if any, these proposed restrictions would be solving” says Jo Johnson, Co-director of the national advocacy group River Runners for Wilderness.
Would you like to comment on any of these issues? River Runners For Wilderness encourages you to speak up if you have any concerns about:

- Decreased river trip lengths.

- The elimination of layovers at certain campsites.

- Reserving large camps for large groups.

- Assigning campsites in the wild section of the river.

Please send a quick e-mail to the folks listed below:

The River Managers::

Christopher A. Dent

Rogue River Program Manager

Rogue National Wild and Scenic River

Medford District BLM

Grants Pass Resource Area

2104 N.E. Spalding Ave.

Grants Pass, OR   97526

(541) 471-6561  

John Borton, District Ranger

U.S. Forest Service

29279 S. Ellensburg Ave.

Gold Beach, OR   97444

(541) 247-3601

and for extra measure, contact their supervisors:

Rogue River / Siskiyou National Forests

Supervisor's Office
Scott Conroy, Forest Supervisor
Ginnie Grilley, Deputy Forest Supervisor
333 W 8th St / PO Box 520
Medford, Oregon 97501-0209

Voice: (541) 858-2200
FAX: (541) 858-2220
TTY: 1-866-296-3823

Medford District Office BLM
District Manager
Tim Reuwsaat
3040 Biddle Road, Medford, OR 97504

For more information, you may also contact

Lloyd Knapp

River Issues Committee

Northwest Rafters Association