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Clackamas County Commissioners amend County Parks Ordinance to include visual inspections of personal property

The Clackamas County Board of Commissioners (BCC) unanimously approved amendments to the County Parks Ordinance Thursday that will allow for visual inspections of personal items belonging to people entering the parks.

The changes take effect immediately.

The amended changes county parks rules to provide new authority for the Sheriff's Office, and other designated individuals, to perform visual inspections of personal property items such as coolers, bags and backpacks. Those refusing inspection will be directed to leave the park premises.

Administrative searches are routinely conducted for purposes other than law enforcement, such as courthouse and airport security, and at large public venues such as concert halls and sporting arenas.

Under the amended ordinance, anyone possessing alcohol on county park property without a permit – and even then only in designated reserved picnic areas and campsites – will be asked to leave the park. The amended ordinance also prohibits glass or glass bottles on county park property unless otherwise allowed by permit.

These changes were prompted by increased recreational use of the Clackamas River resulting in public safety issues and environmental concerns related to drunkenness, littering and trespassing.

Commissioners unanimously agreed that these issues had to be addressed.

"This ordinance transcends politics," Commissioner Tootie Smith said. "We were elected to govern and govern we will."

"It's time to take back the Clackamas River," said Commissioner Martha Schrader. "This is a family-friendly ordinance. People don't want to see one of our pristine rivers sullied by garbage."

"This is our backyard. It's public property and we get to set the rules to protect it from certain elements," said Chair John Ludlow.

"Our job is to protect the public and we do that through the hard work of the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office," said Commissioner Jim Bernard. "And we do that also by enacting laws that protect life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Commissioner Paul Savas added, "People have a choice. If they don't want their coolers and backpacks inspected, they can turn around and go elsewhere. People have a right to enjoy the park safely."

Click here (beginning on page 25) to view the County Parks Ordinance. For more information about the amended ordinance please visit

For more information contact Rick Gruen, County Parks and Forest Manager, at 503-742-4345 or

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