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  • Since You Asked: Removing driftwood depends on where you find it

  • What are the rules about collecting driftwood on Oregon beaches. Can you just go out and cut up a big log for firewood? I've seen people who live near a state-park beach bring a wheelbarrow to the park, fill it with driftwood for their wood stove and push it back to their house. Is that legal? Can you collect little pieces of unusual wood for craft projects?
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  • What are the rules about collecting driftwood on Oregon beaches. Can you just go out and cut up a big log for firewood? I've seen people who live near a state-park beach bring a wheelbarrow to the park, fill it with driftwood for their wood stove and push it back to their house. Is that legal? Can you collect little pieces of unusual wood for craft projects?
    — Carlos D., Grants Pass
    It all depends on where you are, Carlos.
    Oregon's beaches are all open to the public, but that doesn't mean anything goes when it comes to driftwood. The rules differ for state-park beaches and those that are not park land, but basically you have a lot more freedom to gather wood on beaches that aren't state parks.
    On park beaches, according to the Oregon Administrative Rules: "The taking of driftwood in small amounts by visitors for souvenirs, for personal use or as gifts is permitted. The removal of large amounts of driftwood, or any wood with mechanized loading equipment, shall be prohibited except as approved by the park manager.
    "Chainsaws must be approved by the park manager. No wood shall be removed which is imbedded in the beach or in sand dune banks."
    On beaches that aren't in state parks, again from the OARs: "Driftwood removal for firewood and/or ornamental purposes shall be for personal use and restricted to wood which can be loaded by hand only. No mechanized loading and/or removal equipment shall be permitted. Removal of firewood and/or ornamental wood may be restricted to individual beach areas, quantities of wood, and time of year."
    Wait ... there's more: "Power saws may be restricted in certain beach areas. Periodic moratoriums on the issuance of vehicle permits and quantity limits on firewood gathering may be established for sections of beach where the driftwood supply has been depleted due to human removal activity or by act of God. No wood embedded in the beach or in sand dune banks shall be removed. Upland property owners' wishes will be respected when considering vehicle permits for wood gathering. Exceptions to this policy are at the discretion of the State Parks Director."
    Now for the questions you raised. You can cut up a big driftwood log for firewood if it's on a non-park beach, and maybe on a park beach, too, if you ask permission, but either way you'll have to load it by hand. The man collecting firewood with a wheelbarrow at the state park is probably pushing the limits of the law. And finally, you can gather souvenir pieces to your heart's content if you don't intend to sell them.
    Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.
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