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State Parks Enact More More Safety Measure Due To COVID-19 Crisis

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Sonora, CA – State park officials continue to work with local public health officers towards keeping amenities open and accessible during the COVID-19 crisis.

This week, California State Parks announced more safety measures its facilities are taking to reduce crowds and help prevent the spread of the deadly virus. The amended precautions came in the wake of record visitation this past weekend at several parks and beaches that made it impossible for the public to implement social distancing.

As a result, at some of these highly visited destinations, traffic and parking controls were put in place with peace officers patrolling all state park units to ensure that all regulations were being followed.

During Governor Gavin Newsom’s shelter in place mandate period, state park officials are supporting the public’s need to enjoy the benefits of nature by taking a break in the outdoors. Public health officials are recommending walk, run, hike and bike activities in local neighborhoods and accessing parks on foot.

Columbia State Historic Park, Railtown 1897 in Jamestown and Big Trees State Park in Arnold remain open to the public, although some amenities such as guided tours, rides and shopping are closed.

These parks are also doing outreach such as remotely guided tours that are available to the public and being used to provide distance learning opportunities for students while they are out of school. A Columbia State Park ranger provided one this week, viewable by clicking the image box video link. A Big Trees State Park ranger is scheduled to conduct one on Thursday.

Above all, officials are specifically warning people not to congregate while they are in the outdoors and to take personal responsibility to help “Flatten the COVID-19 Curve at Parks.” This means keeping a social distance of six feet or more and staying home when sick. It also includes leaving a park in instances when it is not possible to maintain social distancing.

State park officials say they are continuing to monitor visitation and social distancing at all state parks and if the newly implemented directions are not sufficient to protect public health, additional measures may be taken to fully close parks including trails, bathrooms, and other amenities.

Due to local public health officials’ concerns, Yosemite National Park has entirely shuttered its operations but encourages folks to visit its website to interact remotely, as reported here.

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