The US Forest Service. USA In Colorado and Colorado Parks and Wildlife announced a list of closings Thursday in response to the coronavirus and the state order to stay home issued by Governor Jared Polis.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife closed all of its playgrounds, camps, and camping facilities. The Forest Service is closing campgrounds, restrooms, trails, cabin rentals and fire spots, picnic sites, and trash cans. Fishing, hunting and trail use are "discouraged," according to a press release.
"Officials in the Rocky Mountain Region are temporarily discouraging continued recreational use in national forests and grasslands," the US Forest Service statement read. USA While trails and highways may be open for use, facilities such as visitor centers, entrance kiosks, restrooms, and more will be closed. Currently, the guide temporarily allows limited local day use of trails and rivers. The guide is based on a risk assessment conducted by Forest Service officials to determine significant risks that would be difficult to mitigate given the demonstrated risk of exposure to COVID-19 at large, concentrated meetings of people. "
When asked how the trails could stay open when the trails are closed, the spokesperson for the US Forest Service. USA, Lawrence Lujan, tried to clarify the point.
"It varies by landscape, but generally, if the trailhead is closed, access to the trail is limited," Lujan said. "Sometimes a trail has multiple arteries and can be accessed from multiple points."
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Ground-level decisions are being made for Colorado's 11 national forests, which generally have three to six districts each. Lujan recommended users consult online forests and individual districts to find out what is open or closed.
"Each individual forest will report on the recreational status of its units," said Lujan. "Know before you go. Check the guidance and local public health orders, and your local district, before you leave. Take steps to do your part to prevent or stop the spread of the virus."
Colorado Parks and Wildlife maintains 41 state parks, and all but one remain open. Two of Colorado's national parks have closed: Mesa Verde and Rocky Mountain National Park. Other outdoor areas have also chosen to close, including the Manitou Tilt and the Waterton Canyon.
"As of today, outdoor areas other than park camps, including trails, boat ramps, marinas, and shorelines remain open," according to a CPW press release. However, CPW managers may close areas that do not allow for social distancing. This could include picnic areas, fishing piers and other more concentrated recreation areas and will be determined by location. "
CPW is an agency within the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. Dan Gibbs, executive director of DNR, said Wednesday that the closure of Sylvan Lake State Park in Eagle County came in response to a request from Eagle County Public Health. That county has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. There are 40 other state parks throughout Colorado.
"We would like to keep our state parks as open as possible," said Gibbs, "but we also want to work with local communities and understand what their needs are as well."
Another concern is that, when larger parks close, it could lead to increased traffic in smaller parks that remain open, and that could hinder social distancing.
"If there is a closure, for example, when Rocky Mountain National Park closed, that potentially impacts Boulder County Open Space or state parks or other entities," said Gibbs. "People want to go outdoors. We are working hard to communicate with the BLM (US Office of Land Administration), The Park Service, The US Forest Service. USA We are going to be approaching local governments as well, really trying to be on the same page. "
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