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Respect the River/Rio — Forest Programs

Mt. Hood National Forest

Clackamas River Ranger District

Scenic view of the Clackamas River watershed

Scenic view of the Clackamas River watershed


The Clackamas River Ranger District is in the SW portion of Mt. Hood National Forest along the Clackamas River. With Portland just an hour drive away the Clackamas River district is an easy access and popular destination for many recrationalists. This district is popular for hikers, campers, white-water rafting and fishermen and services hundreds of thousands of people each year in these activities.

The Respect the River program is in its infancy in this district, but hopefully will show great promise to address the growing impacts of dispersed camping, hiking, and off-road vehicle use. Educational signs are being posted near the most popular dispersed camping sites in order to remind people about the positive and negative impacts they may have on the area; signs are also being placed in areas that are being blocked from off-road vehicles to educate drivers about why they shouldn’t drive down those trails.

Also, various informational brochures and a kiosk have been placed in the front lobby of the office to inform campers before they get to the dispersed campgrounds that they are expected to pack-out what they pack in and can prepare to do so.


The Clackamas River is a popular place for people of the surrounding areas to come during hot summer days to swim, relax and camp in dispersed camping sites. Since the Clackamas River Ranger district is so close to Portland we also get a lot of junk dumped here. Dispersed campsites are littered with junk including TV’s, microwaves, kitchen sinks and even burned cars. People drive right down to the camping sites along the rivers – degrading the soil and the vegetation along the river.

Trash left at a dispersed campsite

Trash left at a dispersed campsite

Truckload of trash picked up at dispersed campsites

Truckload of trash picked up at dispersed campsites

Muddy tracks left by an ATV

Muddy tracks left by an ATV

Another situation is the amount of ATV drivers that come to the area. There are many trails and roads for them to drive on, however, many drivers are going off of these into areas that they are not supposed to. These vehicles are destroying hiking trails, vegetation, stream ecosystems and much more.

Solutions and Opportunities

Northwest Forest Conservancy has partnered with the district to help clean-up the forest. Twice a year they hold a Clean-up event where they pick up all the garbage between Bagby and Austin Hot Springs. Each time they pick up hundred of pounds of garbage and return many dispersed camping sites to their natural beauty.

Restoration projects are taking place along the river – vegetation is being planted, and logs are being placed within the river to increase fish habitat. Boulders and other barriers are being put up at the beginning of trails in order to discourage off-road vehicles from using them and to protect the fragile habitat that is along-side the trails.


The first step to change is educating the public about what they need to change and what they can do to help. Hopefully, we will be able to put up more permanent educational signs along trailheads and camping sites reminding recreationalists to be respectful of the land and future users.

It is also our goal to continue to protect fragile aquatic ecosystems and vegetation by blocking certain areas that are being degraded by ATV and OHV use.

Volunteer Opportunities

If you would like to get involved in the clean-up events in the spring and fall – you can contact the Northwest Forest Conservancy (www.nwforests.org)

If you are interested in river restoration projects – you can contact the Clackamas River Trout Unlimited chapter (www.clackamasrivertu.org)

Main Contacts

Tom Horning
Fisheries Biologist
Mt. Hood National Forest



U.S. Forest Service
Last modified: April 12, 2012

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