Tag: Outdoor

Outdoor recreation in Oregon is effectively closed, here’s how the decisions were made

The first day of spring was beautiful in Oregon. Blue skies and warm sun greeted the state on March 19, tempting people out to beaches and hiking trails, snowy mountains and waterfall viewpoints.

A week later, virtually all outdoor recreation in Oregon had closed, including every national forest, all state parks, most national parks and a growing number of local parks across the state as officials responded to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and a population that just couldn’t stay away from nature.

The closures coincided with Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s executive order banning all nonessential travel outside the home until further notice. The order also shut down playgrounds and closed all public and private campgrounds in the state.

The sudden wave of closures left many Oregonians reeling, wondering if there was some way to keep our cherished outdoor spaces open while maintaining public health. How and why were these severe decisions made?

READ MORE: Oregon trails and parks that have closed to the public

Oswald West

A hiker rests at the top of Cape Falcon, part of Oswald West State Park on the northern Oregon coast.Jamie Hale/The Oregonian

OREGON STATE PARKS

As the coronavirus began to spread across the Pacific Northwest, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department had a plan in place: advise all park visitors to maintain social distance, while beginning an orderly two-week shutdown of state park campgrounds.

At the time, public health officials were still recommending people go out hiking as a way to relax and maintain physical health. As long as people maintained the recommended six feet of social distance, there wouldn’t be a problem, they said.

But as the spring equinox sun carried into the first weekend of Oregon schools’ spring break, it quickly became clear that social distancing in parks was going to be a tall order.

“You always hold out hope that people will listen when you say, ‘don’t clump up,’” state parks spokesman Chris Havel said. “That didn’t happen.”

Instead people flooded state parks. Day-use areas and campgrounds were crowded. It was true in the Willamette Valley and way out in the high desert, but especially on the Oregon coast.

Throngs of visitors at beaches and in small towns alarmed local residents. Officials in towns up and down the coast told visitors to leave, closing local campgrounds, shutting down hotels and short-term lodging, and giving tourists 24 hours to go home.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is not just an opportunity for a traveling vacation,” Tillamook Mayor Suzanne Weber said in a video message. “It’s a threat to our very lives.”

That development shook up the state parks department’s plans, Havel said. Officials suddenly saw the urgency of the moment. On Sunday afternoon, March 22, the department closed all campgrounds and day-use sites immediately, shutting down the entire state park system.

“This is not going the way we expected, and the local communities made a very good point,” Havel said of the department’s thinking that weekend. “The timelines here aren’t being dictated by our plans.”

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Lake Havasu boat ramps open as Arizona pushes outdoor recreation | Coronavirus

All of the boat ramps in Lake Havasu City remain open as part of the essential function to provide outdoor recreation to residents per the governor’s stay-at-home order issued Monday.

Across the Colorado River, however, the Chemehuevi chairman Charles Wood said the tribe has basically shut down the boat ramps with “very limited traffic” remaining.

“There are some local residents that have boats, they are very understanding that we are trying to keep people even off the lake, and from traveling around,” he said.

Wood said the tribe started taking actions to limit movement about two weeks ago, and their efforts have slowly evolved over time as different declarations were announced.

Wood said the hotel and casino are completely vacant and they are not allowing any new campers into the area. Those who were already camping when the coronavirus situation arose have been allowed to stay, however.

As a federally recognized tribe the Chemehuevi have the authority to chart their own course, but Wood said they are relying heavily on advice from various government officials and entities.

“We are listening to the president, we are listening to the governor, and we are listening to Indian Health Services,” Woods said. “I would say 99 percent we are probably following what (California) Gov. (Gavin) Newson has put out — 99 or maybe even 100 percent.”

The Big River boat ramps in La Paz County are also closed.

Meanwhile the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department’s Colorado River Station said all of the public boat ramps in Needles, California, are open.

Outdoor recreation encouraged

On Tuesday many local residents took advantage of the outdoor recreation essential function by heading out to the lake for some fresh air.

Lake Havasu City resident Russ Kavanaugh is an avid bass fisherman and regular on the lake but on Tuesday he had a little company in his boat.

“I’m out because I can’t take the house anymore — I had to get out,” said Russ’ wife Jean Kavanaugh. “This is so confining, but this is the only place you can go where you can social distance, so it is very nice to be out on the lake.”

Lots of locals seem to have had the same idea.

The parking lot at the Lake Havasu State Park boat ramps was mostly full late Tuesday morning. Russ noted that the parking lot looked more like it was a holiday weekend than a weekday in Havasu. Even with the extra crowds, however, Jean said people seem to be keeping to themselves and practicing proper social distancing while putting their boats in and out of the water and that there is plenty of room for everyone out on the lake.

Jean said they have had to tweak how they go about daily life without meetings or church to go to. She said they generally try to go out to eat a couple times a week, but have had to cut back as restaurants have been ordered to close their dine-in operations. Jean

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Outdoor Recreation Economy Report – Outdoor Industry Association

OUTDOOR RECREATION MAKES AMERICA STRONGER

Outdoor recreation is among our nation’s largest economic sectors. From the smallest rural towns to the most densely packed cities, outdoor recreation powers a vast economic engine that creates billions in spending and millions of good – paying American jobs. When we invest the foundation of the recreation economy, our public lands and waters, there is compounding return in the form of healthier communities, healthier economies and healthier people. 

Outdoor Recreation Is a Powerful Force

The outdoor recreation industry is a powerful force in the overall U.S. economy, with consumers spending $887 billion annually on outdoor recreation and creating 7.6 million American jobs.

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Outdoor Recreation Creates Healthy Economies and Healthy Communities

Time and time again, when leaders invest in outdoor recreation, research shows that it can reduce crime rates, improve educational outcomes, and lower health care costs.

Outdoor Recreation Depends on Investment in America’s Public Lands and Waters

Our public lands and waters represent the best of America to the rest of the world. The outdoor recreation economy depends on funding, management and access to public lands, which contribute to the growth of our economy and ensure that we have beautiful places to recreate.

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Outdoor Activities – NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation

Scenic image of mountains with Adventure NY logo

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During the evolving COVID-19 situation, please review our webpage for how to enjoy NY’s outdoors safely, locally, and responsibly before visiting state lands.

Find Your Adventure

New York’s breathtaking natural resources are unique, abundant and open to everyone. The opportunities abound, from hunting and fishing, to hiking and rock climbing, swimming and boating, or simply relaxing in a tent under the stars.

DEC plays a vital role in both protecting our natural resources and providing opportunities for people to enjoy them. Under Governor Cuomo’s Adventure NY program, DEC is making critical upgrades to State campgrounds and facilities to better serve people who want to enjoy our outdoors. DEC is also implementing and expanding outreach initiatives to encourage more New Yorkers and visitors to connect with nature and outdoor recreation. Learn more about this exciting initiative (PDF).

Improvements to DEC Lands and Facilities

DEC is committed to completing 75 projects over a three-year period to enhance access to outdoor recreation. Learn about some of our recent improvement projects.

Adventure NY Programs

I BIRD NY

I Bird NY Logo

I Bird NY was launched in 2017 to build on the State’s efforts to increase access to New York’s vast natural resources and promote low-cost opportunities to explore the great outdoors and connect with nature. Visit I Bird NY to information on birding challenges, where and how to bird watch, upcoming bird walks and other events, a downloadable kids booklet, and additional resources.

First-time Camper Program

family with fishing poles

NYS provides FREE First-time Camper weekends throughout the summer. New York families that have never camped before have the opportunity to see if they enjoy the great outdoors before investing in their own gear by registering for a fully stocked campsite at a select NYS campground for a weekend. Learn more about this popular program, which launched in 2017.

Outdoors Day

DEC will host Outdoors Day events across the state on Saturday, June 13, 2020 in conjunction with National Get Outdoors Day. The events were designed for New Yorkers of all ages and abilities to try out a wide range of recreational activities, including fishing, hiking, paddling, birdwatching, camping, archery and more. Find a location near you and stay tuned for more details on Outdoors Day 2020!

First Day Hikes

Celebrate the New Year outdoors with friends and family! Join one of the dozens of sponsored hikes held each New Year’s Day at state parks, historic sites, wildlife areas and trails across the Empire State. Staff from State Parks and DEC, along with volunteers at many sites, lead these family-friendly walks and hikes, which range from one to five miles depending on the location and conditions. Thank you to all that attended on January 1, 2020. Stay tuned for the list of January 1, 2021 hikes.

Hike With Us – Catskills

Ready to try hiking in the Catskills? Take one of the 15 guided hikes as part of the Hike With Us – Catskills program. This series of 15 beginner-level hikes is designed to provide a fun, safe, introductory experience

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