WHITE CITY — Visitors to the state-owned Denman Wildlife Area quickly are becoming aware that they now must pay to park at key access points under a new program aimed at getting anglers, bird-watchers and others to join hunters in paying for wildlife-area use.
The new pay-to-park program went into effect Jan. 1 at Denman and four other wildlife areas owned and operated by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, which is relying on the parking permits as a way to add non-hunters to the list of those paying for use of the wildlife area.
One-day permits cost $7 and annual permits cost $22. They can be purchased at the ODFW's office at the wildlife area, at point-of-sale licensing outlets, as well as online.
They will be required for use while parking in the wildlife area's main lot at 1495 E. Gregory Road, as well as every other access point at the wildlife area straddling both sides of the Rogue River in and near White City.
The permits are transferable between vehicles, but one must be displayed on the dashboard of every vehicle parked at the wildlife areas.
Violators face a $75 fine, and the citation will be considered a wildlife violation rather than a parking ticket.
Signs warning people of the pending requirements have been up since August, and visitors from birders and steelhead fishermen to dog-watchers have been buying new permits, says wildilfe-area manager Clayton Barber.
"I've maybe had a couple people come into the office expressing concern that they have to pay for something they didn't have to, but the majority of people have been positive," Barber says.
When the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted the program in January 2011, agency officials estimated that the program would raise from $600,000 to $2.1 million once fully implemented. The income will go toward habitat and infrastructure improvements at Denman and the state's other wildlife areas.
Bird-watchers, hikers and other so-called "nonconsumptive" users log about five times more annual visitor days at Denman than hunters.
Anglers log twice the number of user days, but until now they had no venue for funding wildlife areas.
A free parking permit will be included for those buying Oregon hunting licenses, combination fishing and hunting licenses and the Sports Pac collection of licenses and tags. They were added free to hunters because operation and maintenance of the agency's wildlife areas are funded primarily by federal excise taxes on guns and ammunition, as well as hunting-license fees.
Joining Denman on the list of pay-to-park wildlife areas are the E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area near Monmouth, the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area near La Grande, the Summer Lake Wildlife Area near Summer Lake and the Sauvie Island Wildlife Area on the Columbia River near Portland.
How to fly-fish the Willamette Valley's main fly-fishing rivers in the Eugene/Springfield area will be center stage during Wednesday's meeting of the Rogue Fly-fishers Association in Medford,
Ethan Nickle, a Eugene native and fishing guide since 1996, will present a program on fly-fishing opportunities for trout and steelhead on the McKenzie and Willamette rivers.
Nearly 80 miles of the McKenzie is fishable and navigable by driftboat, while the Middle Fork and mainstem Willamette offer plenty of wild trout fishing.
The meeting will be held at the Red Lion Hotel, 200 N. Riverside Ave. It begins with a 6 p.m. "Wet Fly" social hour, followed by dinner, club business and the presentation at 7 p.m.
The public is invited.
Recreation fees at National Forest sites will be waived this weekend in recognition of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday.
The Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest has day-use recreation sites at River Bend, Six Mile and Store Gulch along the Illinois River corridor.
On the Umpqua National Forest, the $5 day-use fee will be waived through Monday at Umpqua Hot Springs, near Toketee,
The Forest Service will waive its day-use fees locally three other times this year. Those are the Get Outdoors Day on June 9, National Public Lands Day on Sept. 29 and Veteran's Day weekend Nov. 10-12.
Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or email@example.com.