The Benton County Sheriff's Office Forest Patrol program provides law enforcement services on both public and private forest lands throughout Benton County. The program began in 1993 through a cooperative effort with the Federal government and local private forestry companies who all shared the same goal: to suppress criminal activity and promote safety and security for visitors to the public and privately-owned forest areas within Benton County.
Criminal Activity in Our Forests
The Forest Patrol Deputy regularly patrols the forests in four-wheel-drive vehicles, ATV’s, and on foot as necessary. The Deputy is on the lookout for criminal activity pertaining to trespass, firearms, hazards during fire seasons, illegal four-wheel-drive off-road activity, illegal garbage dumping, and drug activity.
Other issues include the theft of forest products including firewood, mushrooms, salal, bear grass, Oregon Grape, fern, and moss. Although individuals may obtain permits to harvest some of these items, offenders over-harvest or harvest in unauthorized areas.
Assist in Emergencies
The Forest Patrol Deputy is also trained in the Incident Command System (ICS) and is able to assist with emergencies such as search and rescue missions.
Partnerships are Critical
The Forest Patrol Deputy acts as a liaison between the Sheriff’s Office and private forest landowners such as Starker Forest, Weyerhaeuser, the Small Woodland Association, and many others. The Deputy is also a liaison with our public partners including the Bureau of Land Management, United States Forest Service, the Oregon Department of Forestry, and Oregon State University.
Through the generous donations of all of these partners, we have been able to sustain the Forest Patrol program even through lean budgetary times. The support of our partners and the specialization of this program have resulted in healthy forests and safe recreational areas for all visitors.