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Life jackets and water safety

Cormorants on East Sand Island


Life jackets are available during the summer months at certain sites. Visit project sites or contact parks for detailed dates of operation. 

Life jackets are available on a first come, first serve basis.

Visit our water safety page for more safety tips.

Visit our water safety page for more information.
Visit our water safety page for more information.

Willamette Valley Project recreation

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the largest provider of water-based outdoor recreation in the nation. Portland District's recreation sites allow visitors of all ages to enjoy biking, hiking, boating, fishing, camping, hunting, windsurfing and more. Whatever your favorite outdoor activity, one thing is certain: recreation can enrich your life. Visit one of our recreation areas to connect with nature and create unforgettable memories. With more than 90 percent of our recreation areas located within 50 miles of a city or town, there is likely to be a Corps site near you. 


 

We invite you to visit us in one of our many Willamette Valley, Oregon locations: Big Cliff, Blue River, Cottage Grove, Cougar, Detroit, Dexter, Dorena, Fall Creek, Fern Ridge, Foster, Green Peter, Hills Creek, or Lookout Point.

Big Cliff recreation

Birding: Big Cliff Dam is located three miles downstream from Detroit Dam, and is a designated stop along the Mt. Jefferson section of the Oregon Cascades Birding Trail.  This trail is a self-guided auto tour of nearly 200 prime birding destinations in the Oregon Cascades.  Large trees and snags along the shoreline provide roosts for osprey, while hardwood forests around the reservoir provide for neotropical migrant songbirds.

Boat ramp: The boat ramp at Big Cliff Reservoir is permanently closed to vehicle traffic. The ramp can be used to launch small boats if they can be carried to the water.  For more information, visit here.

Blue River recreation

Camping: The U.S. Forest Service operates three recreation facilities at Blue River Dam & Reservoir: Mona Campground, Lookout Creek Boat Ramp and Park and Saddle Dam Boat Launch. For more information call the McKenzie River Ranger District Office at 541-822-3381.

Cottage Grove Dam and Reservoir is on the Coast Fork of the Willamette River, south of Cottage Grove, Oregon.

Cottage Grove recreation

Alcohol ban: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers implemented an alcohol ban at Cottage Grove and Dorena lakes to improve recreation quality, public and employee safety, and resource allocation and protection.

Camping: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operates all parks at Cottage Grove Lake. To make reservations, call the National Reservation Service at 1-877-444-6777 or go to the Pine Meadows campgrounds' website.

Pine Meadows developed campground: Open May 18 - Sept. 10 (last night to camp is 9/9). It has 85 campsites, paved roads, flush toilets, showers, dump station, campfire rings, picnic tables, gate attendants, children's play area and a marked but unsupervised swim area (no hookups) with a life jacket loaner stationFees: $22 per night per site; $6 per day, per extra vehicle.

Pine Meadows primitive campground: Open: May 25 - Sept. 3 (last night to camp is 9/2). This is a minimally-developed campground with 15 individual campsites, vault toilets, drinking water, gravel roads, picnic tables, fire rings, no hookups and no showers (primitive sites are reserved as Pine Meadows Campground sites A-O). Fees: $14 per night, per site; $6 per day, per extra vehicle.

Birding: The reservoir is a designated stop along the Big River Loop of the Willamette Valley Birding Trail.  This trail is a self-guided driving tour that includes 138 birding hotspots. Visitors can see rare birds like the purple martin, the willow flycatcher and the yellow-breasted chat near Cottage Grove Lake. Osprey and purple martins nest in structures maintained by the Corps.

Day-use parks: Cottage Grove Lake has four day-use only parks, three on the lakeshore and one on the river immediately below the dam. All are open May 11-Sept. 9, and are closed daily from dusk until 8:00 a.m. There is no fee for day-use areas and there are no group picnic areas or shelters available for reservations. For more information, call the Willamette Valley Project Park Ranger Office at (541) 942-5631.

Lakeside ParkLocated on London Road just past the dam, Lakeside Park has paved roads and parking lots, flush toilets, picnic tables and fire rings. There is a boat launch ramp with a courtesy dock located near the entrance to the park. The boat ramp is open year-round and has a life jacket loaner station.

Riverside Park: On the east bank of the river, downstream from the dam, Riverside Park is a minimally developed area with a gravel road and parking area, two picnic tables and a vault toilet. A paved path with pull-outs suitable for wheelchairs is close enough to the river for fishing. No drinking water is available.

Wilson Creek ParkOn Reservoir Road at the southwest end of the lake, Wilson Creek Park has paved roads and parking lots, flush toilets, picnic tables, fire rings, a children's play area and an unsupervised swim area with a life jacket loaner station. A boat launch ramp with a courtesy dock is near the park's entrance and is open on a seasonal basis.

Cougar Dam and Reservoir is on the South Fork McKenzie River, east of Eugene, Oregon.

Cougar recreation

Birding: The project encompasses almost 5,000 acres and the uplands are managed primarily through an agreement with the Willamette National Forest.  The reservoir is a designated stop along the Three Sisters section of the Oregon Cascades Birding Trail. This Trail is a self-guided auto tour of nearly 200 prime birding destinations in the Oregon Cascades.  American peregrine falcons have been observed around the cliffs above the lake.

CampingRecreation facilities at Cougar are operated by the U.S. Forest Service. Call the McKenzie River Ranger office at 541-882-3381 or click one of the links for more information: Echo day-use area; Slide Creek Campground; Sunnyside Campground; French Pete Campground; or Delta Campground.

Detroit recreation

Birding: The lake is a designated stop along the Mt. Jefferson section of the Oregon Cascades Birding Trail.  This Trail is a self-guided auto tour of nearly 200 prime birding destinations in the Oregon Cascades. This area provides songbird habitat in its hardwood stands, while osprey use lakeshore snags and trees as roosts and nesting sites and waterfowl including common mergansers nest at the lake.

Camping: Four recreation sites at Detroit are operated by the U.S. Forest Service. Call the Detroit Ranger Station at 503-854-3366 or click one of the links for more information: Cove Creek Campground; Hoover Campground; Piety Island Campground; or Southshore Campground.

Two recreation sites at Detroit are operated by Oregon Parks and Recreation. Call either the park office at 503-854-3406, the State Parks Information Center at 800-551-6949 or click one of the links for more information: Detroit Lake State Park; or Mongold day-use area. Mongold day-use area also has a life jacket loaner station available.

Dexter Dam and Reservoir is on the Middle Fork of the Willamette River, southeast of Eugene, Oregon.

Dexter recreation

Birding: Dexter lake and shoreline lands total about 1,300 acres. The northeast shoreline provides a mosaic of quality wildlife habitat that supports migratory and resident songbirds, osprey and eagles. The reservoir is a designated stop along the McKenzie Loop of the Willamette Valley Birding Trail. This trail is a self-guided driving itinerary that includes 138 birding hot-spots.

Day-use parks: Dexter lake has three day-use parks. One, Orchard Park, is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and has no associated fees. Orchard Park is is open from May 11-Sept. 9, and closed daily from dusk until 8:00 a.m. This minimally developed park is located on the northeast end of the lake and includes a vault toilet and picnic tables. There are no group picnic areas or shelters available for reservations. For more information, call the Willamette Valley Project Park Ranger Office at 541-942-5631.

Dexter Park and Lowell Park are operated by Oregon State Parks. Call the Oregon State Parks office at call 541-937-1173 or click one of the links for more information:Dexter Park; or Lowell Park. Lowell Park also has a life jacket loaner station available.

Dorena recreation

Alcohol ban: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers implemented an alcohol ban at Cottage Grove and Dorena lakes to improve recreation quality, public and employee safety, and resource allocation and protection.

Birding: With more than 2,400 acres, the Dorena Lake project provides habitat for a variety of wildlife and plants. The reservoir is a designated stop along the Big River Loop of the Willamette Valley Birding Trail, a self-guided driving tour that includes 138 birding hot-spots. Visitors can see rare birds like the purple martin, the willow flycatcher and the yellow-breasted chat near Dorena Lake. Osprey and purple martins nest in structures maintained by the Corps.

Day-use parks: Dorena Lake has two day-use parks operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Both parks have no associated fees and are open year-round from dawn to dusk. Bake Stewart Park is located at the southeast end of the lake where the Row River enters the reservoir. It is a minimally developed day use area with trails, bike racks, vault toilets, and picnic tables.  A gravel trail connects the park to the paved Row River Trail managed by Bureau of Land Management. Harms Park is a minimally developed day-use area which includes a boat ramp, paved parking area, vault toilet, picnic tables and access to the Row River Trail. There is no fee for use of the boat ramp, but ramp access is limited by seasonal water levels. For more information, call the Willamette Valley Project Park Ranger Office at 541-942-5631.

Camping: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operates Schwarz Campground at Dorena Lake. To make reservations, call the National Reservation Service at 1-877-444-6777 or go to www.recreation.gov.

Schwarz Campground: Open April 27 - Sept. 10. It has 82 campsites, paved roads, flush toilets, showers, dump station, campfire rings, picnic tables, gate attendants and children's play area (no hookups). Fees: $20 per night, per site; $6 per day, per extra vehicle; $40 for double sites. Additionally, Schwarz has six group campsites. Fees: $150 per night; up to 25 vehicles per group at any one time, up to 15 of which can be camper units. Schwarz also has a life jacket loaner station available.

Baker Bay Park is operated by Lane County Parks. Call the Lane County Parks Department at call 541-682-2000 (located in Eugene). The Baker Bay concessionaire may be reached at 541-942-7669. Baker Bay also has a life jacket loaner station available.

Hiking: The Row River Trail offers more than five miles of the Row River Trail bordering Dorena Lake, and is open to hiking, biking and horseback riding. The trail can be accessed near the lake at Dorena Dam, Row Point and Harms Park trailheads. The trail begins in Cottage Grove and continues for 14 miles, with several trailheads providing multiple opportunities for short trips and shuttling options. For more information, call the Bureau of Land Management at 541-683-6600.

Fall Creek recreation

Day-use parks: Fall Creek Lake has one day-use park operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It  has no associated fees and is open year-round from dawn to dusk. Tufti Park a minimally developed day use area with Fall Creek access, a gravel parking lot, hiking trail and vault toilet. For more information, call the Willamette Valley Project Park Ranger Office at 541-942-5631.

Five day-use sites at Fall Creek are operated by Oregon Parks and Recreation: Winberry Creek Park, North Shore Park, Free Meadows, Lakeside I & IICall either the park office at 541-937-1173 or the State Parks Information Center at 800-551-6949. 

Camping: Two campgrounds at Fall Creek are operated by Oregon State Parks: Cascara Campground and Fisherman's Point Campground. Call the Oregon State Parks Department 541-937-1173 for more information. Cascara also has a life jacket loaner station available.

One campground at Fall Creek is a private camp for educational purposes: Sky CampThe caretaker can be reached at 541-937-3355.

Fern Ridge recreation

Boaters: Click here to view Fern Ridge's water surface elevation map.

Birding: The Fern Ridge area is an excellent location for birding. Oregon’s largest breeding colony of purple martins can be found at Fern Ridge. Thousands of acres of emergent marsh support summer breeding habitat for a variety of water-bird species. Read more about purple martins: Corps reservoirs benefit Willamette Valley Swallows.

Day-use parks: Fern Ridge Lake has one day-use park operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It  has no associated fees and is May 11 - Sept. 9 from dawn to dusk. Kirk Park is located below Fern Ridge Dam off Clear Lake Road and gives access to the Long Tom River and ponds full of fish and wildlife. There are no group picnic areas or shelters available for reservations. Kirk Park has trails, picnic tables, paved roads, a fishing dock, fire rings and vault toilets. For more information, call the Willamette Valley Project Park Ranger Office at 541-942-5631.

Four day-use sites at Fern Ridge are operated by Lane County Parks: Orchard Point Park, Perkins Peninsula Park, Richardson Park and Zumwalt ParkCall Lane County Parks at 541-682-2000 or visit their website. Richardson Park also has a life jacket loaner station available.

Three day-use sites at Fern Ridge are privately operated. Eugene Yacht Club, Fern Ridge Shores (or call 541-935-2335) and Tri-Pass Ski Club (541-935-1495).

Foster Dam and Reservoir is on the South Santiam River, northeast of Sweet Home, Oregon.

Foster recreation

Day-use parks: Foster Dam has one day-use park operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It is open year-round and is free to use. Amenities include vault toilets, picnic tables, barbecue grills and a paved boat ramp with access to the South Santiam River below the dam. For more information, call the Willamette Valley Project Park Ranger Office at 541-942-5631.

Two day-use sites at Foster Reservoir are operated by Linn County Parks: Lewis Creek Park and Sunnyside ParkFor more information call Linn County Parks at 541-967-3917 or visit their website

Boat Ramps: Linn County Parks operates two boat ramps at Foster: Gedney Creek Park and Calkins Ramp. For more information call the Linn County Parks Department at 541-967-3917 or visit their website.

CampingLinn County Parks operates two campgrounds at Foster Reservoir: Edgewater County Park and Marina, and Sunnyside ParkFor more information call the Linn County Parks Department at 541-967-3917 or visit their website.

Green Peter recreation

Boat Ramps: Linn County Parks operates two boat ramps at Green Peter Reservior: Thistle Creek Boat Ramp and Whitcomb Creek ParkFor more information call the Linn County Parks Department at 541-967-3917 or visit their website.

CampingLinn County Parks operates two campgrounds at Green Peter Reservoir: Whitcomb Creek Park and a group camping area - Mile Post 16, Quartzville Road, near Trout Creek. For more information call the Linn County Parks Department at 541-967-3917 or visit their websiteBoaters may park overnight in the Whitcomb Creek County Park boat ramp parking lot and purchase a permit. Roadside camping has been permanently closed. Other improvements will be implemented as funding becomes available.

Hills Creek recreation

Birding: At more than 5,500 acres, the Hills Creek Dam and Reservoir provides habitat for a variety of wildlife, including several rare species. The reservoir is a designated stop along the Three Sisters section of the Oregon Cascades Birding Trail, a self-guided auto tour of nearly 200 prime birding destinations in the Oregon Cascades.

Camping, picnicking & boating: Recreation facilities at Hills Creek are operated by the U.S. Forest Service. Call the Middle Fork Ranger District Office at 541-782-2283 or click on one of the links for more information: Bingham Boat Ramp; Cline - Clark Picnic Area; C.T. Beach Picnic Area; Packard Creek Campground; or Sand Prairie Campground.

Lookout Point Dam and Reservoir is on the Middle Fork of the Willamette River, southeast of Eugene, Oregon.

Lookout Point recreation

Day-use parks: Lookout Point Reservoir has one day-use park and one day-use boat ramp operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Both areas have no associated fees but have varying operating time frames. Meridian Park is on the north side of the dam on West Boundary Road. It includes a gravel road and parking area, a vault toilet, picnic tables and a boat ramp with a courtesy dock but ramp access is limited by seasonal water levels. The park is open daily from 8 a.m. until dusk, May 11 - Sept. 9. Signal Point Boat Ramp is on West Boundary Road, 4.9 miles upstream from the dam and 6.3 miles from Lowell. It includes a paved parking lot, a vault toilet and low-water-level paved boat ramp with courtesy dock. For more information about either facility, call the Willamette Valley Project Park Ranger Office at 541-942-5631.

Camping: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operates Ivan Oakes Campground at Lookout Point Reservoir. For more information, call the Willamette Valley Project Park Ranger Office at 541-942-5631.

Ivan Oakes Campground: Open May 25 - Sept. 3. Fees: $14 per night, per site; $6 per day, per extra vehicle. Availability: first-come, first-served.

Rules, policies & related

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Day-use fees, including boat ramp and dump station fees, will be collected while parks are available for camping. No fees are collected during park closure dates. Some boat ramps outside fee campgrounds will charge a $3 launch fee per day, which is valid at any Corps-managed recreation site for day it was purchased.

Some designated swim beaches outside fee campgrounds may charge a use fee of $1 per person over the age of 12 or in a vehicle up to $4. However, if a vehicle has more than 8 passengers over the age of 12, there will be a fee of $1 for each additional individual over the age of 12.

All fees have been set to maintain comparable fee schedules with other federal, state, county and private campgrounds. All fees meet the requirements set in Engineering Publication 1130-2-550. Fee comparability within the same state and district is outlined in Paragraph 9 of EP 1130-2-550.

 

All rules and regulations for the public use of Corps lands are described in Title 36, Chapter III, Part 327. The following document provides more detailed information specific to hunting on Corps lands within the Portland District. Hunters should be aware that some of the lands surrounding Corps reservoirs are managed by other County, State, and Federal agencies and different guidelines may apply. Hunters are responsible for recognizing private land boundaries and should not hunt on private land without permission of the landowner.

 

The following guidelines apply to all Corps-managed lands:

  1. All Oregon State hunting regulations should be followed when hunting in Oregon.  All Washington State hunting regulations should be followed when hunting in Washington.

  2. Hunting is not permitted in developed recreation areas including but not limited to campgrounds, picnic areas, boat launch facilities, and parking lots, even when these recreation areas are closed for the season. Hunting in the lakebed near recreation areas is permitted below the high water mark. Shot may not fall into developed recreation areas. 

  3. Firearms are not permitted within 400 ft. of concrete dam structures or powerhouses. 

  4. With the exception of the Rogue River Basin Project (see above) only shotguns and bow-hunting are permitted on Corps-owned lands. Only federally-approved non-toxic shot may be used, except for deer hunters using slugs or buckshot. 

  5. Trapping is permitted by special permit only at the following reservoirs: Cottage Grove, Dorena, Fern Ridge, Dexter, Lookout Point, Fall Creek, Hills Creek, Foster, and Green Peter. For trapping permits, contact Garrett Dorsey at the Corps of Engineers Fern Ridge office- 541-461-2869. 

  6. Target and clay pigeon shooting and “plinking” is prohibited. Air guns, bb guns, and paintball guns are not permitted. 

  7. Off-road use of motor vehicles is prohibited beyond established roads and barriers.

  8. Camping is permitted only in designated areas. Open fires are prohibited except in campground fire rings.

  9. All garbage generated during hunting activities (including shotgun shells) shall be removed from Corps lands.

Questions about these guidelines should be directed to:

Willamette Valley Project Park Ranger Office: 541-942-5631

  • Specific guidelines and maps for Fern Ridge Wildlife Area are available from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
  • Information about hunting at Cougar, Blue River, and Detroit Reservoirs should be obtained from local U.S. Forest Service offices.
To print, download a pdf of the hunting guidelines.

Hunting Maps

The following maps are pdf files (about 1MB each) that can be downloaded for viewing or printing:
Cottage Grove Reservoir
Dorena Reservoir
Dexter Reservoir
Lookout Point Reservoir
Hills Creek Reservoir
Fall Creek Reservoir
Foster Reservoir
Green Peter Reservoir
Seaplanes may be operated seven days a week between sunrise and sunset at all Portland District lakes with the exception of Big Cliff, Applegate and Willow Creek lakes. Once on the water seaplanes shall be considered powerboats and must be operated in accordance with marine rules of the road. Seaplanes in the water may taxi to any area of the lake subject to the powerboating restrictions for those lakes. For more information, see: Seaplane operations at Corps of Engineers lakes.

If you're enthusiastic, enjoy new people and want to protect parks, then you might want to be a volunteer!

Volunteer park hosts inform visitors, register campers, assist at entrance stations, conduct customer comment surveys, open and close parks, pick up litter, perform minor maintenance and support interpretive programs. Hosts live in the parks and inform Park Rangers about emergencies or visitor complaints. Volunteer hosts must work at least 20 hours per week, and stay in the park during certain hours to assist visitors as needed. In return, RV sites with full hookups are provided. Current Corps of Engineers openings are listed at the Volunteer Clearinghouse.


Natural Resource Volunteers assist the Corps throughout the year with natural resource management activities. Volunteers are often recruited volunteers from the community for special events such as: Earth Day, SOLV Beach and Riverside Clean-Up, Down By the Riverside and National Public Lands Day. Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, church members, school groups, and other community groups have helped with litter clean-ups, trail work, non-native plant removal, habitat improvement and tree planting.


For more about volunteer opportunities, please contact Willamette Valley Park Ranger, Ron Colletti, at 541-942-5631.

   EP 1165-2-316 outlines Title 36 rules and regulations for recreation at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers locations. (Click here for another format).