Oregon boating managers have followed through on plans to relax how rafters, kayakers and other paddlers buy and carry their $5 annual permit used to fund the fight against invasive species in the state's waterways.
The Oregon State Marine Board voted recently to offer a two-year permit instead of the current one-year permit and also added new alternatives to the current paper permit.
The changes came after boaters complained that more flexibility is needed in the permit system, which began a year ago and marked the first time Oregon boaters had to pay any license fees for nonmotorized boats.
Along with the current paper permit, the Marine Board soon will add the option of a permanent sticker that could be affixed to boats or a Tyvek tag that can be carried or zip-tied to whatever boat is in use that day.
Along with the two-year permit option, the Marine Board also voted to sell permits directly from the agency, bypassing the $2 agent fee charged at sporting goods stores and other outlets selling the permits.
Plans are to have boaters download an application from the agency's website, www.boatoregon.com. The permit would then be mailed to the state.
The new two-year permits should be available to the public in early February.
The Fremont-Winema National Forest has closed its Great Meadow Sno-Park off Highway 140 to over-snow vehicle use after recent rains melted the snowpack there.
This week's warm daytime temperatures left about two feet of standing water on the park area, which freezes overnight, according to the U.S. Forest Service. That makes for treacherous conditions for over-snow vehicles like snowmobiles.
National Forest rangers this week were also cautioning snowshoers and cross-country skiers that current conditions there will not be optimal for their activities.
Rangers plan to lift the snowmobiling restrictions once the snow levels return to necessary depths.
The forest defines over-snow vehicles as those that run on a track, tracks or skis while in use over snow. The machines must be less than 60 inches wide and have a dry weight of less than 1,200 pounds.
The closure does not alter the annual seasonal restriction of specific Forest Service roads that are designated as snowmobile trails through April 30.
For more information, call the Klamath Ranger District in Klamath Falls at 541-885-3400.