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Comment Opportunity on Deschutes River Business Plan

Posted: 07/31/2021
By: Thomas O'Keefe

The Bureau of Land Management Prineville District's Deschutes Field Office is seeking public comment on a proposal to change the fee structure for the Lower Deschutes Wild and Scenic River. The proposed changes are intended to make fees more equitable for all users, including non-boating users, throughout the year and to account for rising operating costs and the need for year-round maintenance.


The draft proposal now open for public comment is to:


Amend the current individual special recreation permit fee for floating the river (the boater pass) to a flat rate of $5/person/day.


Add a new $5/person/night camping fee in Segments 1 (Warm Spring Boat Ramp to Harpham Flat) and 4 (Macks Canyon to Heritage Landing) of the Lower Deschutes Wild and Scenic River on BLM-managed public lands where no vehicle access is present. The camping fee would not be required for visitors who are staying in a developed campground that already requires a fee.


The fees collected will continue to support boating and camping operations along all four segments of the Lower Deschutes River, including maintaining and upgrading facilities and roads, conducting safety patrols, purchasing key infrastructure like a new portable toilet dumping station, treating weeds, and helping all visitors enjoy this unique place.


The Draft  Lower Deschutes Business Plan is available electronically at


Comments are due by August 13. They may be mailed to the Prineville District Office, Attn: Lower Deschutes Business Plan at 3050 NE 3rd Street Prineville, OR 97754 or submitted via email to Please include Draft Lower Deschutes Business Plan in the email subject line.


Those who enjoy the Wild and Scenic Deschutes River are encouraged to provide comment. We are supportive of the new fee structure and believe it will lead to the resources necessary to manage the river corridor. We offer the following observations on the proposed Plan:


* One significant cost is the contract fees associated with maintaining the toilets along the river corridor.
* The proposed Plan does not include any camping fee for the segment between Buckhollow and Macks Canyon that could drive increased use of this segment (it has seen the greatest increase in use among all segments over the past two decades) that has more limited opportunities for camping.
* Despite the changes, the permit and fee system remains quite complicated with 5 separate segments with different fees, use limits, and capacity limits. Securing a permit for multiple segments remains a challenging exercise.

Thomas O'Keefe

3537 NE 87th St.

Seattle, WA 98115

Phone: 425-417-9012
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Associated Rivers


Deschutes Business Plan Comments (7/31/2021)

Comment letter on the Business Plan for the Lower Deschutes Wild & Scenic River, Draft, 2021.

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