New Ochoco Forest portals welcome visitors

Five information stations installed

PRINEVILLE, Ore. - The Ochoco National Forest announced Wednesday the installation of five new visitor portals with the purpose of welcoming visitors and to provide information of interest as they explore and enjoy their National Forest lands.

The concept of the Ochoco Forest Portal Project was envisioned nearly ten years ago, but it was through a grant from the Federal Highways Administration that those ideas could finally become a reality. 

Bases and frames for the kiosks were installed during the summer of 2012, and information panels were designed in 2012 and fabricated this year. Installation of the portal kiosks will be finished just in time for Memorial Day Weekend. 

The project took over four years to complete. That work included surveying of sites, construction of bases, and within the same timeframe, a year and a half for panel design, graphics and fabrication.

Each portal consists of a kiosk of multiple panels.  A full-color relief map of the surrounding area indicates the portal location and identifies main travel routes, campgrounds, trailheads and other places of interest to travelers.

The map panel also lists the special attributes and recreational opportunities in the general vicinity that visitors may enjoy.  Story boards will provide an opportunity to learn about natural processes, unique geological features, important restoration efforts specific to that locale, or about the rich history associated with the Forest.

Each portal will also explain some of the current guidelines and rules in place on the Forest for travel and dispersed camping, and information about how to obtain the Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUM's), which show routes that are open to motorized vehicles. 

Mobile device users can scan a QR code located on the display that takes them to the Forest Service's central Oregon website for travel-related information and to download the maps.  The webpage can also be accessed online at http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/centraloregon/maps-pubs/?cid=stelprdb5318152.

The portals are at the following locations:  Bandit Springs, McKay Creek, Ochoco Ranger Station, Scott's Camp and Sugar Creek.  Each is located on a main travel route on the Forest, with an asphalt or aggregate surfaced pullout for traveler safety. 

All sites meet ADA accessibility standards. Bandit Springs, Sugar Creek and Ochoco Ranger Station are adjacent to day use areas with picnic and restroom facilities.

The creative development stage for the story boards was a group effort, with numerous Forest Service resource specialists from across all units of the Ochoco National Forest contributing their ideas and suggestions for the historical information and ecological themes that would be of interest to the visiting public.

Forest Service pilots provided aerial photos that are either displayed on story boards, or were instrumental in developing artwork for the panels.

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