OREGON:  Traveling in the forest during winter

OREGON: Traveling in the forest during winter

Despite an overall mild winter with lower snowfall, many areas on the Umatilla National Forest are still covered in snow or may have obstructions on the road. Forest officials caution the public that Forest roads are not maintained for winter travel. Visitors traveling to the Forest are doing so at their own risk and should plan ahead before starting their trip.

The Umatilla National Forest does not plow roads or clear them for downed trees or boulders in the winter. Many Forest roads close during the winter to protect wildlife during the months when they are most vulnerable (see the Umatilla National Forest Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs) for specific seasonal road closure information). The conditions of roads that remain open during the winter can change dramatically and without warning. Winter storms often bring wind, snow, and rain that can substantially affect road and trail conditions, causing hazards and obstructions in roadways.

“A pleasant outing can turn into a miserable ordeal in a matter of minutes,” said Lonnie Ruchert, Umatilla National Forest Roads Manager. “Be prepared. Make sure you’re self-contained and able to meet all conditions that may arise.”

Forest officials urge visitors that are considering travel routes through the Umatilla National Forest during the winter to contact your local ranger district office before starting your trip. Additionally, the Forest encourages visitors to practice the following winter safety travel tips:
Know the area and what to expect; ALWAYS check avalanche and weather reports prior to departure. Consult maps and local authorities about high danger areas, safety information, and regulations for the area you plan to visit. Do not rely solely on navigational devices.
Check the weather forecast and plan your trip accordingly. Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
Monitor snow conditions frequently.
Bring extra food, water, and clothes.
Use a map and compass to eliminate the need for tree markings, rock cairns or flagging. Obtain a Motorized Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) for the area you’re visiting.
Show a friend a map of your planned route and let him/her know when you expect to return, and
Remember to notify that person upon your return.
Make certain each member of the group is adequately prepared for harsh winter conditions.
Additional information on winter travel is available on the Umatilla National Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/umatilla/ or at any forest office.

Umatilla National Forest MVUMs are available at https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/umatilla/maps-pubs/?cid=stelprdb5414334. Additionally, the MVUMs can be downloaded onto a smartphone or tablet via the Avenza app or the Pacific Northwest Forests app.

Information on local road conditions is available at https://www.tripcheck.com/.