ODF, Recreation, Tillamook State Forest

Citing staffing issues, the Tillamook Forest Center will remain ‘closed until further notice’

The Tillamook Forest Center will not open the first weekend in March this year, extending a closure that first began due to the coronavirus pandemic on March 15, 2020. 

The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) said in an emailed update that staffing issues— of the same sort experienced across the country—were to blame for the center’s continued closure. 

“Unfortunately, while we’ve been working diligently toward getting our staff capacity rebuilt, we have not yet been able to fill our vacancies which means that we are unable to reopen the center in the timeframe we had hoped,” the state agency said.

Previously, in August 2021, ODF had said that the plan was to open for the March 2022 season.

While some volunteer positions have been filled in anticipation of the center opening, ODF said the Tillamook Forest would remain “closed until further notice.”

Initially closed at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic on March 15, 2020, the ODF-operated facility in the Tillamook State Forest, which closes its doors for the winter, remained shuttered for the rest of that season as the state, nation, and world grappled with the rapid spread of the virus. It had opened for the season less than two weeks earlier on March 4 of that year.

In the summer of 2021, when much of the state was reopening and lifting restrictions, the center remained closed to visitors. This time, it wasn’t just the disease that kept the site closed.

“We have had significant staffing changes over the last year and are focused on rebuilding our team and completing priority projects to improve our operation to better serve our visitors,” the center said in a social media post on July 1, 2021. The earliest the center could have reopened was said to be September 1, ODF noted at the time.

The center’s ongoing closure includes the bridge spanning the Wilson River, linking the center directly to the Wilson River Trail, and the center’s parking lot. 

When open, the center features a replica fire lookout tower, an interpretive center, a bridge that spans the Wilson River and links to the Wilson River Trail, a theater that shows programs related to the historic Tillamook Burn, and presentations surrounding the history, wildlife, and vegetation of the Tillamook State Forest.

More information can be found by visiting the Tillamook Forest Center website.

To stay up-to-date on the forest center’s plans, sign up for the center’s email list or follow them on Facebook.

Chas Hundley is the editor of the Banks Post and sister news publications the Gales Creek Journal and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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