Leaders with the Siuslaw National Forest (SNF) announced recently that staff and volunteers of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area (ODNRA) are busy preparing campgrounds and trails for summer visitors. This year, Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) motorists will notice more safety education and sound monitoring activities. These will include courtesy sound checks, sound enforcement checkpoints, and sound education programming.


In a recent US Forest Service news release, Central Coast Deputy District Ranger Jeremy Aujero said, “We are excited to welcome summer visitors to the dunes. As a multi-use recreation area, there is a place here for everyone. With that in mind, we’d like to remind visitors to respect closures, out-of-bound zones, noise limits, and quiet hours. We appreciate everyone’s help to care for the land and provide a family-friendly place where people can visit for generations to come.”


Florence Area Chamber of Commerce president/CEO Bettina Hannigan echoed Aujero’s comments.


“Every season we look forward to welcoming dune users to Florence. The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area starts here in Florence and continues south 40-plus miles to the Coos Bay/North Bend area. The dunes are one of many reasons Florence is known as Oregon’s Coastal Playground.”


Hannigan observes that, “By and large, dune users are good folk, conscientious about the environment, respectful of other users, and cautious in observing regulations that keep the dunes usable for so many people.”


Florence was recently designated as the sandboarding capital of the world, largely due to ODNRA and the fact that the world’s first sandboard park, Sand Master Park, was established here in 2000 by Lon Beal. Beale is known internationally as “Dr. Dune” for his leadership in the sport, as a founding board member of Dune Riders International (DRI), and for manufacturing the world’s best sandboards (Venomous Sandboards) here in Florence.


“Florence is a key destination for the sport,” adds Hannigan. “Lon has hosted international competitions and world championship events here in Florence. Several world champions live and train in Florence and give lessons at Sand Master Park.”


OHVs, including ATVs, side-by-sides, and sand rails are a common sight in Florence’s dunes. Several specialty businesses in Florence cater to motorized use of the dunes—Sandland Adventures and Sand Dunes Frontier offer professionally-driven sand rail rides that have been thrilling customers for generations. Single-seat or side-by-side ATVs are available for sale or rent at a variety of locations including Florence Motorsports, Torex ATV, and Ocean Breeze ATVs. Some offer direct dune access.


Quiet, safe hikes are available in protected/designated areas. Siuslaw National Forest offers maps, advice, and parking passes to help get you out on the gorgeous landscape.


FUN FACT: The dunes near Florence were the inspiration for Frank Herbert’s “Dune” books and movies. The Siuslaw Public Library in Florence has a “Dune Room” dedicated to Herbert, stocked with volumes from his private library donated by his family.


Aujero and Hannigan agree, both saying that “Safety is paramount to ensuring a family-friendly environment at the ODNRA.”


Aujero adds that “this season, there will be a greater emphasis on noise safety levels. Forest Service staff and partner agencies will be conducting a variety of sound outreach, education, monitoring, and enforcement activities on the ODNRA intended to help OHV riders understand what the sound limit is, why it’s important, and how to comply. OHVs found to be in violation of the sound limit may be subject to citation.”


Hannnigan adds, “Tourism in Florence adds around $200 million to the local economy and provides about 25% of all jobs in the area. Camping, hoteling, restaurant visits, shopping, and museum visits are a large part of what dune users contribute to our economy. The annual Northwest Bronco Roundup (August 16-19, 2023) brings us scores of conscientious dune users who also contribute to local causes such as Florence Food Share.”


“Excessive sound poses a potential disturbance to adjacent landowners, other recreationists, and sensitive wildlife,” Aujero explained. “Noise regulation and monitoring are important aspects of OHV management. The Oregon Dunes Management Plan (1994) establishes standards for OHV sound rules and sound monitoring. The current OHV sound limit for the ODNRA is 93 decibels, as measured from an OHV’s tailpipe while the vehicle is stationary.”


The Siuslaw National Forest reports that several scheduled events at the ODRNA may increase visitation at various times:


• UTV Takeover: June 21-25. Expect heavy traffic Horsfall and Hauser area and the entire southern portion of the dunes. Some entrances may have restricted access.


•Dune Fest: August 8-13. Expect heavy traffic in the Umpqua Day Use areas. Some entrances may have restricted access.


For more information about recreation opportunities, contact the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce (FlorenceChamber.com, 541-997-3128, info@FlorenceChamber.com) or visit the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area website or call their Reedsport office at 541-271-6000.