DEC encourages New Yorkers to get outside, discover open spaces safely


NEW YORK (WWTI) – The New York State DEC and State Parks launched the hashtag #RecreateLocal to encourage New Yorkers to get outside and discover open spaces and parks close to home.

While indoor spaces and restrooms at State Parks and DEC’s public facilities are closed, many parks, grounds, forests, and trails are open during daylight hours, seven days a week.

Following the guidance to practice social distancing helps prevent unnecessary burdens on State resources, as officers and staff respond to search and rescue missions, wildfire suppression and other response activities.

In an effort to keep visitors safe and reduce the spread of COVID-19, DEC and State Parks are taking the following steps to reduce public density:

  • Closing all playgrounds.
  • Limiting access to athletic courts and sporting fields.
  • Canceling all public programs and events.
  • Closing all indoor visitor facilities, such as nature centers, environmental education centers, visitor centers, and historic houses to the public until further notice.
  • All state-operated campgrounds, cabins, and cottages are closed to overnight visitation through April 30. All visitors with reservations will be issued a full refund. New York State has suspended all new camping, cabin and cottage reservations for the 2020 season until further notice.
  • Implementing precautionary measures at golf courses at State Parks, including increased intervals between tee times, removing bunker rakes and ball washers, and decreasing use of golf carts.
  • DEC is closing access to DEC-controlled fire towers to the public.
  • Limiting parking. If the parking lot is full, visit a different location to recreate responsibly. For visitor safety and the safety of others, do not park on roadsides and only park in designated parking areas.

DEC and State Parks are encouraging visitors to:

  • Stay local and keep visits short.
  • Visit in small groups limited to immediate household members.
  • Maintain distance from others while in places where people tend to congregate, such as parking lots, trailheads, and scenic overlooks.
  • Avoid games and activities that require close contact, such as basketball, football, or soccer.
  • Avoid playground equipment like slides and swings and other frequently touched surfaces.
  • Do not share equipment, such as bicycles, helmets, balls, or Frisbees.
  • If crowds are forming at a park, choose a different park, trail, or return another time or day.

NYS DEC recommends that New Yorkers over 70 years old and those with a compromised immune system should not visit public spaces, including those outdoors. The same recommendations are made for individuals who are sick or have had contact with someone who is sick in the last 14 days.


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