Although many of our state parks remain open, it is important to note that they are operating with reduced staff. Because of this, it is up to all of us to reaffirm our commitment to being stewards of the environment, and keep parks clean for all who use them. Here are a few tips for you to help keep parks clean and safe while they operate under uncertain conditions.
Pack Your Trash
Leave No Trace. Perhaps the most important thing you can do to keep parks clean is to pack your trash. Although parks have trash cans, under reduced staffing they may not be taken at regular intervals. Bring your own bag to place food wrappers, water bottles, and other miscellaneous trash into to bring out of the park and discard safely elsewhere. Note: While COVID-19 remains an issue, we do not recommend picking up trash that is not yours.
Stay on Marked Trails
This is always required, but it’s now more important than ever to stay on marked trails. Going off-trail can kill native plants and cause unnecessary erosion that requires restoration. While parks operate under reduced staffing, this work may be delayed.
Remember that Some Facilities May be Closed
Many facilities, namely restrooms, may be closed when you visit a state park. Remember to use the restroom before entering the park or call to see if the facilities are open on that given day. Visitor centers may also be closed, so look up trail maps online or take a picture if there’s a sign at the trailhead.
Hike at Your Comfort Level
Now is not the time for extensive backpacking or extremely challenging hikes. First Responders are already on edge, and with reduced staffing they have enough on their plates. Do not put yourself in a risky situation that could put park staff at risk. Plan your hike so you return with plenty of sunlight left.
Take Necessary COVID-19 Safety Precautions
Bring your mask and wear it when approaching others on a trail, and do your best to remain 6 feet or more away from individuals. Let faster hikers pass, and make room on trails for bikes if they are permitted at the park. Do not gather in large groups at trailheads or lookout points. Bring hand sanitizer along with you, and wash your hands with soap and water before and after finishing your hike.
Stay Up-to-Date on Park Regulations
Some parks may have additional regulations in place while COVID-19 remains an issue. Read up on the park you plan to visit before you go and adhere to their rules.