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Diamond Lake campgrounds open early

Unseasonably warm weather and virtually no snow has allowed the Umpqua National Forest to open a handful of its campgrounds around Diamond Lake.

And while similar conditions exist around Fish Lake and Union Creek, the concessionaire who runs those campgrounds for the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest says logistics keep her from opening before May 1.

"It's basically campground-host availability," says Alisa Acosta, who owns the concessionaire company Rogue Recreation. A lot of them work at other campgrounds, and they're not free until close to May.

"I wish I could open sooner," she says.

At Diamond Lake, it's the first time since 1978 that recreation managers were able to open portions of the Diamond Lake and Thielsen View campgrounds this early, according to an Umpqua Forest news release.

Diamond Lake typically is under a thick sheet of ice and the campgrounds are socked in with snow — sometimes curbing accessibility deep into May.

But the lake has been ice-free and the shorelines have been snow-free largely since a warm Christmas rain wiped out the snowpack.

The north end of Diamond Lake Campground is now open for first-come, first-served camping. Bathrooms and the boat ramp are available, but the showers, fish-cleaning stations and dumpsite remain closed, so visitors should plan on packing out trash.

Loop C of Thielsen View Campground is now open for first-come, first-served camping, with limited services available. While the boat ramp is open and useable, there is no running water.

In the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, Acosta plans a May 1 opening of Fish Lake Campground and Farewell Bend Campground off Highway 62 near Union Creek. Union Creek, Doe Point and the North Fork campgrounds are set to open May 8, with the remaining campgrounds a week later, she says.

Deadline nears for guided youth turkey hunt drawing

The deadline is Tuesday afternoon for youth hunters to apply for a drawing to land one of 10 spots on guided turkey hunts on Lake Creek-area ranch that teems with toms.

The hunts on the C2 Ranch near Lake Creek are filled through a drawing by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Winners get one day of guided turkey hunting on the ranch either during the youth turkey season that runs April 11-12 or any time during the general spring season, which runs April 15-May 31.

To enter, apply at the ODFW Central Point office, 1495 East Gregory Road, or online at http://bit.ly/1gkNyjx

Applications can be faxed to 541-826-8776 or emailed to vince.j.oredson@state.or.us.

The entry deadline is 5 p.m. Tuesday, and the drawing will be done that evening. Winners will be notified Wednesday. Winners can be accompanied by a parent or other family member.

Winners must supply their own juvenile hunting license and juvenile turkey tag and earn a hunter-education certificate. Kids 9 to 13 who don't have the hunter-education certificate may hunt under the Mentored Youth Hunter Program by using an adult's tag, but only during the general spring season.

The A&H Program gave C2 Ranch a grant to fund myriad habitat projects for big game and other wildlife. In return, the ranch owners agreed to provide guided youth deer hunts and adult archery deer hunts last fall and will offer 10 youth turkey hunts this spring.

For information, call Vince Oredson at 541-826-8774.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.