A new county ordinance, effective immediately, was approved by the county Thursday, Aug. 15

There’ll be no more alcoholic beverages in Clackamas County parks. It’s a new ordinance that became effective last week.

County commissioners took the action Thursday at their regular meeting, amending the county ordinance prohibiting the possession of alcoholic beverages and giving county employees and sheriff’s deputies the ability to inspect personal property without permission.

Should park visitors refuse to allow the inspection of their coolers, bags, backpacks or vehicles, they have but one option: Leave the park immediately.

Commissioners defend their action, stating it is designed to prevent recent problems with people drinking at parks, causing a nuisance because of drunkenness, littering and causing safety hazards for themselves and others in the Clackamas River.

Administrative searches are routinely conducted for purposes other than law enforcement, the commissioners said in defense of the measure. Examples they gave included courthouse and airport security and at large public venues such as concert halls and sporting arenas.

Commissioners agreed unanimously 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,” Chairman John Ludlow said. “It’s public property, and we get to set the rules to protect it from certain elements.”

“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.”

For more information, visit or call 503-742-4345.

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