Corps: Quartzville changes under way

Sean C. Morgan

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is in the Environmental Impact Statement phase for changes along the Quartzville Corridor that will eventually shut down roadside camping in much of the area.

The Corps and Linn County Parks and Recreation Department have developed a plan for the future of recreation at Green Peter Reservoir to improve resource management, public safety and boating and camping opportunities.

Among the proposed changes is the end of dispersed camping along the narrow strip of Corps land between Green Peter Reservoir and Quartzville Road. On summer weekends, the area is packed with RVs and tent campers, despite the lack of facilities and the close proximity to a busy road.

The Corps is concerned about the unsafe conditions and resource damage that is caused by this activity.

“The Corps needs to make some changes in order to live within our resource constraints and authorities, which do not support dispersed camping,” said Tami Schroeder, Willamette Valley Projects park manager.

“By shifting camping activity to designated areas and expanding the county’s role in managing recreation at Green Peter Reservoir, we will be able to work within our budget and improve the quality and safety of recreation in this area.”

The Corps had planned last summer, with the public comment period in July or August, to begin the EIS for the first phase of the plan, which included closing roadside camping, expansion of the county-operated Whitcomb Creek Campground and creation of designated camping operated by the county at Trout Creek. Changes were tentatively planned for 2013.

The Corps is conducting the EIS now, with the public comment period likely sometime this summer.

“It’s a little delayed, taking a little longer than we planned for,” Schroeder said. The EIS will determine the Corps’ course of action. If the final determination is that dispersed camping should be closed, the closures will probably start in the fall, following the recreation season.

The closure is proposed for the section of Quartzville Road from Green Peter Dam to milepost 17.2, Schroeder said. People will still be able to camp on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service.

Maps available at the Sweet Home Ranger Station show the boundaries for the agencies, she said.

Plans for the parks depend on the EIS process as well.

“We will consider going after grant funding for those projects this fall, which would mean construction could begin in 2014, if funding is available,” said Linn County Parks and Recreation Director Brian Carroll.

“We’re just excited to be able to improve the quality of recreation at Green Peter,” Schroeder said.

A copy of the master plan is available online at http://www.linnparks.com/pages/generalinfo/parkplanning.html.

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