PORTLAND, Ore. – A joint press release from the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management advises the public to be prepared during the winter months, especially during recreational activities.
“Take the time to gather additional gear, including water, food, warm gloves and clothing, headlamps or flashlights, sleeping bag, and a fire starter,” said Shawnee Hinman, director of the Forest Service Pacific Northwest Region’s special purpose recreation program in the release .
Recreation on public land in winter presents many safety challenges, the press release said.
One piece of advice in the press release is to research how to get to a specific location and not just rely on GPS.
“Navigation apps can guide you on dirt roads in the winter,” said David Ballenger, BLM Oregon-Washington recreation director. “Call ahead if you’re unfamiliar with the road conditions and always carry a paper map as many areas don’t have cell service.”
Remember that travel conditions may vary between your home and destination. It may be warm in Portland or Seattle, but it’s cold and frigid in the nearby mountains.
“Have more gear on hand than you’re likely to need in case you have to wait out a storm or get stuck in the snow,” Hinman said.
Some other tips in the press release include:
- Check the weather forecast before you travel. Weather conditions can vary greatly, especially on the mountain passes. Check road conditions before driving to your destination.
- Plan to arrive at your destination early and avoid rush hours as parking lots fill up quickly. Consider arriving in the afternoon when the first wave of visitors may be leaving.
- Let someone who is not traveling with you or your group know where you are going and when you expect to return.
- Equip your vehicle for winter travel – with snow chains, shovel, first aid kit, blankets and flashlights. Traveling through mountain passes may require snow chains; Make sure your chains fit your vehicle.
- Keep your tank at least half full while driving. Gas stations can be few and far between in some areas. Plan your next stop before you leave your current one.
- Most BLM and Forest Service roads are not maintained for winter driving. Many roads will be closed for the season at the first significant snowfall or on December 1st, whichever comes first.
- If you’re stuck, stay in your car, turn on your turn signals, call for help, and wait for help to arrive.
- Put on layers of warm, waterproof clothing and pack extra layers.
- Make sure you have the right gear in your car, including an emergency kit with extra food and water in case you get stranded. If you go into the backcountry, carry avalanche beacons.