Recreation Update


On Nov. 30, the Benton County Board of Commissioners lifted its county-wide outdoor face-covering requirement, bringing the county into alignment with the updated Oregon Administrative Rule (OAR) 333-019-1025 now in effect statewide.

As a result, effective Dec. 1, face coverings are no longer required on OSU Research Forest property. 

We still encourage you to practice physical distancing when possible. Please continue to adhere to the statewide indoor face covering requirements and the Oregon Health Authority’s Public Health Recommendations for face coverings.



New outdoor mask mandate effective immediately. Per Benton County ordinance #D2021-063, everyone must wear a mask in outdoor spaces, including the Research Forests, when 6 feet of social distancing cannot be maintained.

For more information, please click on the links below:

Thank you for your compliance and understanding!


MAY 28, 2021- UPDATE

Due to the recent updated guidelines issued by Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and the updates to the OSU policy on mask wearing and physical distancing, we are happy to announce that face coverings are no longer required outdoors on Research Forest property. However, if the outdoor setting is crowded, or physical distancing cannot be maintained, then you need to continue to wear your mask.

The Research Forest will continue to comply with all OHA and OSU guidelines. 


JUNE 15, 2020 - UPDATE

There has been some confusion about whether our COVID-19 rules are to stay 6 feet apart OR wear a mask.  It is not an either/or – It is both!  Bring a face covering so that you can pull it up/put it on when encountering other people in parking lots, at trailheads, and on roads and trails IN ADDITION TO maintaining 6 feet from each other. When it's just you on the trail, breathe easy, but as soon as you see another person it's time to cover up and space out.
As COVID-19 cases increased last week, please strive to follow the guidelines to minimize the risk of exposure. By doing so, we improve our chances of remaining open to recreation!


JUNE 2, 2020 - UPDATE

We're nearly one month into our trial re-opening, and we're happy to announce that many of you are doing a great job adjusting to our new rules!

How do we know this? The greeters you may have noticed and chatted with over the past few weeks are there to provide you with current information and to record observations of compliance with our COVID-19 rules.

From this data, we've noticed an 80% average compliance rate. Ideally, we'd like to see a 90-100% compliance rate, so there is room for improvement.

Help boost the compliance rate and keep the McDonald-Dunn open to recreation by adhering to the following rules while visiting:

  • Use a face-covering when encountering others on forest roads, trails, and parking areas
  • Maintain at least 6' of distance from others
  • Pick up and carry out your dog poop and trash
  • Leash your dog at parking areas, trailheads, and when encountering others on forest roads and trails

Thank you for being such awesome visitors. Keep up the great work!


MAY 6, 2020 - UPDATE

We are happy to announce the Oregon State University McDonald and Dunn Research Forests will be entering a trial reopening phase for recreational activities on Friday, May 8.

Over the past several weeks, we’ve had numerous conversations about how and when to open the forests to recreation as federal, state, and OSU orders, directives and guidelines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic change. The conversations have included forest-user groups like Team Dirt, Portland Parks and Recreation, and our Forest Recreation Advisory Council.

As a result of these conversations, and Gov. Kate Brown’s decision on Tuesday regarding the partial re-opening of state recreation areas, the following guidelines and policies will be in place until further notice. 

  • The Research Forests are open on a trial basis to all recreation activities, beginning Friday, May 8.
  • Equitable access to the forests for recreation is paramount. All forest access points will be available from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
  • Visitors are asked to comply with the following:
    • Practice social distancing measures by remaining at least six feet apart at all times.
    • Adhere to “Leave No Trace” measures by packing out trash and dog waste.
    • Keep dogs on a leash in forest parking lots, trailheads and when passing others on forest trails and roads.
    • Bring and wear a mask when encountering other users.
  • Forest trash and restroom facilities will remain closed until further notice.
  • Research Forests greeters will be stationed at research forests entry points that attract high volume visitor counts. Greeters will welcome visitors and remind forest-users of policies and guidelines.
  • Staff from the university, the College of Forestry and the Research Forests will continue to monitor forest usage and visitor compliance with reopening restrictions.
  • The Research Forests may be closed again if federal and state guidelines change or if visitor non-compliance occurs.

We’d like to thank everyone who has shared comments and suggestions regarding our unique circumstances. We understand the closure has been difficult for many of you and we appreciate your compliance throughout the closure.

Together, we have an opportunity to make this work and we look forward to seeing you back in the forests!


APRIL 8, 2020 - UPDATE

Signs placed within McDonald and Dunn Forests indicating that OSU’s research forests are opened to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic are not accurate and were put there without university authorization. The forests remain closed until further notice. (April 8, 2020)


MARCH 23, 2020 - UPDATE

The Oregon State University Research Forests are closed to all recreation activities.

Closing the forests to recreation was not an easy decision to make. We understand forests and recreation play a critical role in improving our overall well-being.

The decision was made in response to directives and guidelines from Oregon State University, the State of Oregon, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. As a result, a majority of our staff are now working from home and are unable to adequately maintain our recreational trails and facilities at a time where increased use would be likely.

Immediately before the closure of the forest, several things were clear: the request to distance was not effective, resulted in the congregation of groups larger than ten people, and a respectful distance was not maintained when users were passing and crossing on trails or loading/unloading at trailheads. 

Taking all of this into consideration, we decided to close the forests to recreation.

We are starting the process of looking at what happens as directives and guidelines are removed or relaxed. As directives and guidelines change, our objective is to open the forest to recreation and provide a safe space for our staff and the public.

For now, the Research Forests remain closed to all recreation activities, and we will update you when the status changes.


The Research Forests Team