What does the project do?
Oregon House project 2011 Proposes increasing penalties for assaulting park and recreation staff. It carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a $125,000 fine, or both.
It defines a parks and recreation employee as an employee or person employed by the Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation or a department of parks and recreation or a city, county, tribal or special district entity.
According to state and federal officials, the number of rangers being attacked and harassed by visitors at campgrounds, on trails or other recreational areas has increased over the past few years.
The harassment is increasing as the number of people going out has increased, especially during the pandemic. Overcrowding at state parks and sold-out campgrounds have led to frustrations, including extreme examples of campers literally fighting for the first campsites to arrive.
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Oregon Parks and Recreation Department Deputy Director Chris Havel said simple requests, like people wanting to keep their dogs, are becoming more controversial than ever, leading to threats and even assaults.
Havel said that there are more people, so there are more meetings about violations of the rules.
“Unfortunately, the interesting thing is that we see an increase in cases where people not only disagree with our guards, but also verbally attack them, threaten physical violence and sometimes do not comply with these threats,” said Havel. . “We ran into the guards. More often than not, it’s the person who gets offended by filling them in or threatens them in a serious way. It’s not a huge number of cases, but it’s growing, and for many of us, it doesn’t need to be seen as a major issue. “
The issue is also heightened on federal lands, which are often managed by agencies such as the US Forest Service.
“Traditionally about 1% of our visitors actually struggle with following the rules and regulations,” said Dennis Benson, Deschutes National Forest recreation manager. “Right now, we have about 10% of the population that doesn’t follow or don’t follow the rules, regulations and things like that, which lends itself to more problematic behavior on public lands.”
Who is behind it?
The bill was introduced at the request of the Oregon Recreation and Parks Association. Sponsors include Reps. Ken Helm, D-Beaverton, Rep. Kim Wallan, R-Medford, and Rep. Paul Evans, D-Monmouth.
Where is it in the legislative process?
The bill was introduced Chamber Commission on Justice. There are no hearings scheduled at this time.
Zach Urness has been an outdoor reporter in Oregon for 15 years and is the host of the Explore Oregon Podcast. To support his work, subscribe to “Statesman” magazine. Urnes is the author of “Best hikes with kids: Oregon” and “Southern Oregon Tourism.” He can be contacted [email protected] or (503) 399-6801. Find him on Twitter @ZachsORoutdoors.