Hiking OK, but no jogging in 3 Oregon wildlife refuges

SALEM, Ore. — You can walk but you can’t run at three national wildlife refuges in the Willamette Valley and new signs are warning visitors of the rule.

A “no jogging” sign has been put up at a popular trailhead at Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge and the regulations also apply at Ankeny and William L. Finley refuges.

“It might be a new sign, but jogging has never been allowed in the (Willamette) wildlife refuges,” said Jock Beall, Willamette Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex biologist. “We do see people out running. We just stop them and explain the rules.

“We tell them it’s not a park, it’s a wildlife refuge.”

The regulation surprised runner Tracy Gannaway, who lives in Rickreall across from Baskett Slough.

“I had no idea,” Gannaway told the Statesman Journal. “It seems kind of silly. Runners and hikers put pretty much the same amount of wear on the trails. And this is Oregon, we run everywhere.”

Running, however, is considered an “incompatible use” in the refuges.

“One of the challenges with jogging is that it could have an adverse impact on wildlife in the process of breeding,” said Miel Corbett, deputy assistant regional director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Activities with higher speeds can be disruptive and cause stress to the animals. We identify compatible uses on a refuge by refuge basis — we just look at which activities are best for each one.”

Refuge officials encourage hiking, wildlife observation, environmental education and photography. Deer hunting is allowed during autumn at Finley. But regulations also prohibit bicycles, horseback riding and pets.

“To allow hunting and not jogging really surprises me,” said Tim Johnson who leads trips with the Salem Audubon Society. “I feel for joggers who just want to be out in a beautiful place, and I’m surprised that it’s forbidden.”

Some runners said the prohibition was not a problem.

“The wildlife refuges are more about bird watching, and if fast movement scares the animals than I could see why they wouldn’t want people out there running,” said Gary Terlecki, director of Run Wild Adventures, a group that hosts races across the Willamette Valley.

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