From Central Oregon Emergency Information Network
OUTDOOR RECREATION OPTIONS CLARIFIED; PUBLIC COOPERATION NEEDED NOW
News Release from Central Oregon Emergency Information Network
As temperatures are forecast to climb this week, Central Oregonians should be aware of outdoor recreation opportunities and follow orders regarding closures and restrictions in place to reduce personal exposure to COVID-19 and to protect first responders.
Mental health experts recommend fresh air and time in nature, but this must be balanced with the physical distancing mandated by the state-wide executive order to stay home. With different governments managing different lands, here’s a comprehensive look at all the options and current status.
BENEFITS OF BEING OUTDOORS
Limited outdoor activities are suggested by public health officials to help counter mental health issues and other incidents that may result in higher frequency due to stay home orders, including divorce, suicide, domestic violence, unwanted pregnancies, etc. Allowing places for people to get out may help to curtail some of the negatives of social isolation.
“Local, state or federal, we’re all in this together. The BLM is doing what we can as part of the whole of America's response to the coronavirus,” said Jose Linares, acting State Director BLM Oregon and Washington. “Although we have vast open spaces we continue to want people to use, we can’t stress enough that everyone listen to local officials and practice safe physical distancing.”
Central Oregonians are encouraged to take this opportunity to explore the nature close to home, especially when it can be done without adding to parking lot congestion at popular destinations.
“Our local parks, trails and open spaces have always served as places where people can find respite and seek peace and restoration,” said Don Horton, executive director, Bend Park and Recreation District. “During this time of uncertainty, these places are needed now more than ever.”
PHYSICAL DISTANCING IN PARKS AND ON TRAILS
Use wide trails where possible to stay six feet from others while passing.
User-created trails damage habitat and create erosion.
Visit less popular trails at less popular times. If you see many people or a full parking area, go elsewhere or at another time.
Use trails and paths at nearby parks rather than driving across town or beyond.
Wash hands before and after any visit to a park or trail.
Follow local and national guidance to wear cloth face coverings in public.
Offer a wide berth when passing and if approaching from behind, say a friendly “hello, passing on your left.”
Keep dogs on a leash.
Go solo or only with members of your household. No groups.
If this is not possible or if you are sick, stay at home – do not use a park or trail.
OTHER OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES
There are other activities to consider outdoors:
Gardening and yardwork
Set up space to relax, do yoga, or do art outdoors
Read a book on a patio, balcony or in backyard
Clean your vehicle or bike
Go for a bike ride
I spy nature games with your kids in the backyard
WHY ARE CLOSURES AND RESTRICTIONS NECESSARY?
Closures and use modifications protect the health and safety of visitors, employees and volunteers. The closures also reduce the non-medical demand for personal protective gear, such as masks and gloves, required for facility cleaning, and they protect infrastructure during a time when staff and volunteers are unable to respond to on-the-ground needs.
“These closures aren’t about enforcement. We urge people to abide by these closures and physical distancing guidelines to reduce impacts to our communities’ medical providers and first responders,” said Holly Jewkes, Forest Supervisor, Deschutes National Forest.
Built park amenities including playgrounds, skateparks and sport courts increase contact between people and equipment including rackets and balls. These activities are not allowed under the governor’s executive order.
ENFORCEMENT OF CLOSURES AND RESTRICTIONS
Signs and other markings are being used to inform park and trail users of the closures and restrictions throughout Central Oregon. Unfortunately, these physical markings and barriers are being vandalized and removed in many areas. The executive order states that violations will be considered an immediate danger to public health. Blocking, or impeding, vehicle traffic or damaging natural resources may result in citation on federal, state, county, city or special district property.
The park districts, Deschutes National Forest and others are working closely with law enforcement agencies regarding unauthorized use of closed property and/or reports of removing physical barriers to gain access to closed property.
“I ask for everyone’s cooperation and sharing responsibility so we can weather this public health pandemic together,” added Horton.
“We know the outdoors are calling, and the decisions you make affect everyone. If there was ever a time to recognize our interdependence, this is it,” added Jewkes.