Plan spells changes for Green Peter, Quartzville

Scott Swanson

The Linn County Parks and Recreation Department, together with other government agencies, has produced a Recreation Plan for Green Peter Reservoir and the Quartzville Recreation Corridor.

The plan was completed in late October by consultant David Reed and Associates of Springfield following several public meetings on the subject.

“There were no remarkable surprises,” said Linn County Parks Director Brian Carroll. “We just had to get it all down on paper.”

The plan is essentially an update of the 1987 Master Plan for Resource Use prepared by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Green Peter area.

“The purpose was to look at upgrading facilities up there, explain recreational opportunities, protect the resources up there, improve visitors’ experience up there and help improve the local economy,” Carroll said.

The plan is partly a response to concerns voiced by the public and landowners in the area about safety and problems caused by unregulated camping and other activities on the lake and along Quartzville Road.

“We have some concerns with the Green Peter area – particularly the Quartzville corridor, with sanitation and safety,” said Tammy Schroeder, Corps of Engineers Parks Manager for the Willamette Valley Project’s 13 reservoirs. She said the corps usually does not allow “dispersed camping” of the type that is common along upper Green Peter and Quartzville Creek.

The recreation concept plan, she said, “kind of updated the Master Plan” and triggers some efforts to secure funding “that always tended to be on the back burner. It establishes a time line of priorities for changes we want to make up there.”

In general, the corps focuses on developed camping facilities rather than free-for-all dispersed camping that is common along Quartzville Creek and the upper end of Green Peter.

“Linn County is a great partner for us to work with. It can offer quality recreation opportunities that are more in line with what Corps policy is,” she said.

The plan’s goal is to provide the Corps and Linn County with guidelines for decision-making to solve problems, which include:

n the risk of fire, vandalism and other damage caused by dispersed camping along Quartzville Road and use of the private logging road on the south side of the lake.

“I was certainly concerned about the private landowners who own land around Green Peter,” Carroll said. “Their concerns are trespass and fire threats.

“Timber is still, obviously, a major part of the economy in Linn County. We want to improve that. Right now the recreational uses are unregulated. The risks associated with unregulated recreational activities are a major concern for the timber companies, who have a huge investment up there.”

n the lack and poor conditions at boat-in sites at Green Peter Lake.

“Only one boat ram is year-round,” Carroll said. “We only have two boat ramps on Green Peter and you have to drive halfway around reservoir to even access those ramps. We have identified access points – one is Billings Park on the south side of the dam.”

n inadequate facilities at Whitcomb Creek Park, the site of one of the existing boat ramps.

“Whitcomb Creek’s capacity is not very much and it doesn’t have very many services,” Carroll said.

“”We’re looking at major improvements for Whitcomb – a new boat ramp, expanded camping, day use facilities. I could almost see a Clear Lake-style resort development in there. I don’t know if we’re looking at a restaurant in there, but we want to provide enough facilities to give campers a good experience.”

n damage to terrain, vegetation and cultural resource sites by illegal digging, harvest and other factors, such as disturbances and damage to elk habitat during the winter months by off-road vehicles.

n conflicts between campers, often due to a shortage of facilities.

Carroll said he has heard from people who used to camp in the area but no longer do so because of concerns about safety and the behavior of some campers in the unregulated area. So has the Corps, Shroeder said.

“The type of feedback we’ve been getting from people are concerns about sanitation issues, the lack of facilities and restrooms for people using the area, and people complaining about other users doing things that are unsafe,” she said. “Those types of comments tell us it’s time to make changes so the area is safer and people have a better recreational experience.”

n the need for signage to promote safety and educate the public about safety and awareness of natural and cultural resources.

“You go up there right now, there are old kiosks, things that don’t provide information,” Carroll said. “We want to provide information about where people can camp and where they can’t, and what recreational opportunities are available.”

Linn County Parks and Recreation Department and the Corps of Engineers commissioned the work, with help from other agencies, such as the Bureau of Land Management, which have interests in the area.

Carroll said that when the plan is implemented, changes will occur.

“Some people may not be happy with some of those changes,” he said. “But, more or less, the word I’ve gotten from the Corps is that the current situation cannot continue. Those changes will happen one way or another. We’re trying to provide recreation up there so it’s not lost.”

Many of the potential changes may be popular with campers.

“There really isn’t good access to the lake and there are not good moorage points,” he said, “People have lot of money invested in equipment and they need to know their stuff is going to be protected when they’re up there.

“Part of what’s happened with us, the County Parks Department, and the Corps of

Engineers, is we can’t just go up there and correct these problems. We don’t have funding or manpower.”

He said that, based on the plan, “we can put together packages to create infrastructure so it pays for itself.”

Carroll said the plan spells out changes that potentially could include fees for some activities, such as camping, and power supplied by some sort of alternative energy since running a power line above the dam is cost-prohibitive.

“I don’t know if we can generate enough power to provide full hookups, but we might be able to generate enough power to provide water,” he said.

“The goal here is that Green Peter is somewhat of a destination recreational site as it is now. We would like to enhance that recreation destination so it becomes a key focus for Linn County.”

Schroeder said the Corps is particularly interested in implementing goals that were set down two decades ago, such as expanding Whitcomb Creek Park.

“We’re pretty excited about having this opportunity,” she said. “The Master Plan is 20 years old. This is a great framework to start to make changes up there that hopefully will benefit the community and the public.”

To view the plan, visit