[midvalleybirds] E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area still open, Luckiamute State Natural Area probably not

clearwater at peak.org clearwater at peak.org
Mon Mar 23 18:17:23 PDT 2020

Hi mid-valley birders & naturalists! 

Looks like all state "parks" are closed as of 5 PM today. 
[ https://oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=v.dsp_featureArticle&articleId=272 | https://oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=v.dsp_featureArticle&articleId=272 ] 
Luckiamute State Natural Area is officially a "natural area," not a "park," but administratively I think it's treated as the same. 

The gate to the Luckiamute South parking area was already locked when I went by there to check, around noon today. I didn't check the paddlers' access in the Luckiamute North unit, but I would guess that they've also locked the gate there. 

The trailhead parking area for the "North Trail" that leads out to the boat-in campground at Luckiamute Landing was still accessible. A small sign at the trailhead (probably a few days old) gave recommendations for "social distancing in state parks." By tomorrow I expect that will be replaced by an "Area Closed" sign but I've asked the Natural Area manager, Jason Elkins, for clarification because right now it's a little ambiguous. 

Although it may seem a little incongruous -- natural areas like LSNA have plenty of room for people to spread out and avoid COVID-19 virus transmission, and getting outside could be good for mental health in this crisis -- my understanding is that the reason is crowding at parking areas. LSNA has seen some very heavy use on recent weekends and even weekdays, with reports of up to 22 vehicles at the North Trailhead. When you get that many cars there, no doubt some of them will spill over onto adjoining private land. 

The closures by OPRD will run until May 8th (until further notice by Governor Brown). Sadly, this comes just at the time when native prairie plants are just coming into bloom. I've also asked about access for volunteer work to maintain the prairie during this period. If I manage to get out there to do weeding, I promise to share photos via the Mid-valley Nature list! I did get a few photos today which I'll share later. Western Buttercup is the only native prairie wildflower blooming right now, but some of the older camas plants are starting to send up flower buds which could open within a week. 

The birds and other wildlife there will have the place mostly to themselves for the next two months. That could be a good thing in some ways, but I do worry about humans who will take advantage of the situation to go out there for, er, unauthorized reasons, and possibly cause damage. Again, this is an issue that I'll be discussing with OPRD's manager. 

According to the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW) website, state wildlife areas including E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area are still open to the public (just no overnight camping which is not an issue here, but could be an issue at other wildlife areas around the state such as Summer Lake). 

If you have any information on other popular natural areas in our area, please share! With migrant Vesper Sparrows due to return by next week, I was going to put out a request to watch for banded birds at Bald Hill Farm & Natural Area, if that's still open to the public. 

Best wishes to all of you, 

Joel Geier 
Camp Adair area north of Corvallis 

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