Thursday, April 21, 2016

Umpqua Hot Springs Becomes Day-Use Site

Time Needed for Area around the Popular Hot Springs Site to Recover from Excessive Use

Posted By on Thu, Apr 21, 2016 at 1:07 PM

TOKETEE, OR – The Umpqua Hot Springs, 70 miles east of Roseburg on the Umpqua National Forest, has been designated as a day-use only site with parking restricted to the trailhead parking area. The hot springs will remain open for use between sunrise and sundown.
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This change in use will be effective beginning April 19 and remain in effect through April 19, 2018, to allow for disturbed areas to return to their natural state. Parking vehicles is limited to the trailhead for the Hot Springs and prohibited within 300 feet of Forest Service Road 3401. Overnight use in the area around the hot springs is also prohibited. A map of the Umpqua Hot Springs Day-Use area and the Order issued by the Umpqua National Forest are available at http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/umpqua/notices/?cid=FSEPRD498533

“These changes respond to resource and public safety concerns,” said Jimmy Tyree, Diamond Lake District Ranger. “Road 3401 is a single-lane road. By eliminating parking alongside the road, we’re allowing for emergency vehicles to safely drive through.”
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Tyree shared that people staying overnight in dispersed sites along the road and in the hot springs area have caused extreme degradation of the site.

“Too many don’t follow the Leave No Trace techniques,” explained Tyree. “We’re left with compacted soils and areas completely devoid of ground vegetation, not to mention many toilet paper mounds. Heavy use has altered the natural processes in play at this site.”

Over the past three years, Douglas County and Forest Service law enforcement officers have issued increasing numbers of tickets to people at the hot springs, trailhead, and adjacent unofficial dispersed camping sites. Problems have included illegal drug use, violating campfire and smoking restrictions, cutting down trees, and failure to pay day-use fee. Deputies have responded to reports of domestic violence and fighting.

Violators could face a prison sentence of up to six months and a fine of up to $5,000.
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The original hot spring was used by prehistoric people. Surveyors, hunters and prospectors traveling in the area in the late 19th century documented the location. A “tub” was excavated in the travertine rock surrounding the springs in the early 1930s with a three-sided shelter constructed a few years later. Additional, unofficial tubs were later added.

Last September, the Umpqua National Forest issued a temporary closure of the hot springs to soaking to address concerns from very high E.coli counts. The springs reopened to use in early 2016.

People wishing to camp can choose to stay at Toketee Lake Campground approximately four miles south of the Umpqua Hot Springs on Forest Service Road 34.

The public is asked to comply with all posted signs and closures. For more information about the Umpqua Hot Springs, contact the Diamond Lake Ranger District at 541-498-2531.

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