Fights And Camp Pirates Are Common In Crowded Oregon Campsites

According to some park officials in Oregon, the strong demand for occupied campsites is fueling conflicts, altercations, and even so-called “campsite pirates.”

This summer, potential campers have clashed over first-come, first-served campsites at Sunnyside County Park, according to Brian Carroll with Linn County Parks and Recreation, the Statesman-Journal reported on Friday.

Carroll reported that there were “actually fights for campsites.” “This year, there was undoubtedly a general increase in people’s irritation and concern over not being able to get a campsite. There appears to be less widespread civility in use.

As tensions over reserved campsites increased, some campers earned the moniker “campsite pirates” for erroneously claiming already-reserved sites by ripping off the reservation tags and replacing them with their own. When the original parties arrive and discover their campsite is occupied, they become irate and perplexed. Despite being uncommon, Carroll said the technique becomes more frequent than it formerly was.

It used to be really uncommon, he said. Has there been a conflict? Yes, you are aware that it has already happened. However, not on the magnitude that we observed this year, as I mentioned.

There are other places outside Sunnyside County Park that have similar problems. The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department announced earlier this year that it will pursue legislation to provide rangers with additional security due to the rise in assaults and harassment against them.

According to Dennis Benson, recreation manager for Deschutes National Forest, “typically approximately 1% of our guests really struggle with complying with rules and regulations.” As a result, there are more undesirable activities on public lands. “Now, we have more like 10% of the population that doesn’t conform or follow rules, regulations, and those types of things.”

Fights And "Camp Pirates" Are Common
Fights And “Camp Pirates” Are Common

Despite a sharp rise in population since 1972, Oregon’s state park system has only added three new campgrounds.

The number of visitors to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department’s facilities established records in 2017 with an anticipated 53.6 million day visits and 3.02 million campers who stayed over. According to Chris Havel, associate director of the state Parks and Recreation Department, this year’s figures are almost the same.

“This summer has been exceptionally busy, at 96% to 98% capacity, which essentially means that everything is taken, with the possible exception of a few nights,” added Havel. “Again this year, we’re discovering that a lot of individuals are unfamiliar with camping and the outdoors in general.

In other words, the pattern of people coming out for the first time that we noticed during the pandemic is still present, which suggests that we will continue to be busy.

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