State, county parks set closures to help stop COVID-19 coronavirus spread

With schools, entertainment venues, restaurant dining areas and other gathering areas being closed to help stem the spread of the coronavirus, many peninsula residents and visitors are flocking to city, county and state parks and properties along with the Olympic National Park.

But anything other than day use at those recreation areas can contribute to the spread of the virus, officials say, leading to the partial closure of a number of public parks and lands.

City of Sequim

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has made its way to Sequim’s playgrounds.

City of Sequim officials said on March 20 that it is closing all playground equipment at Carrie Blake Community Park and Margaret Kirner Park to the public effective immediately, an effort to help minimize the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

“The city is unable to clean and disinfect the park structures after each use,” Public Works Director David Garlington said in a press release, “and is acting in accordance with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) interim recommendations for United States community facilities with suspected/confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 and strict statewide policies.”

City parks, however, remain open and residents are encouraged to enjoy the playfields, trails and other amenities, Garlington said.

For more information, call the City of Sequim at 360-683-4908.

Clallam County parks

Most county parks are still open for day use, to be serviced daily by day-use facility maintenance staff, county parks director Joel Winborn said on March 22.

Nearby county parks to remain open include: Port Williams, Dungeness Landing, Mary Lukes Wheeler, Panorama Vista, Three Waters, Robin Hill Farm (Agnew), Agnew soccer fields and Rainshadow Disc Golf Park (Blyn).

The Dungeness Recreation Area is open to day use but campground loops A and B — 66 sites in all — have closed, along with the two campground restrooms.

Voice of America Road will remain open, Winborn said, as it is the only vehicular access road to the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge trailhead.

“Keeping the road open maintains vehicular access to the refuge as well as to the day-use areas of the county park. lf that is changed, we will likely close the road at the main gate entrance on Lotzgesell Road and disallow vehicular traffic through the park. Visitors could, however, park outside the gate and walk in as long as day-use remained open.”

A park manager is on-site 24 hours a day, he said. Call 360-683-5847 or email to ccpdu@olypen.com for more information.

The 92 sites in the upper and lower campgrounds at the Salt Creek Recreation Area west of Port Angeles are closed, as well are the two restrooms and the main gate. All areas of the park, however, remain open to pedestrian use unless a full closure is determined at a later date, Winborn said. Also open are access to the beach parking lot and vault toilet, beach parking overflow areas and lower camping area vault toilet. A park manager is on-site 24 hours a day. Call 360-928-3540 or email to ccpdu@olypen.com for more information.

All buildings and grounds at the Clallam County Fairgrounds are closed through May 17. The office will remain open to daily business and operations, however, with office and maintenance staff available from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday. With a few exceptions, an on-site caretaker will be on the grounds 24 hours a day. For more information, call 360-417.2551 or email to sioffrida@co.clallam.wa.us.

Camp David Jr., located along Lake Crescent, is closed to all visitotr use through May 15. After that date, the campground is expected to be open with a possible cap of 50 persons. A park manager is on-site 24 hours a day. Call 360-928-3540 or email to ccpdu@olypen.com for more information.

State parks

On March 22, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced the closure of all state campgrounds across Washington state to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus.

Campgrounds will remain closed through April 30. The closure includes roofed accommodations such as cabins and yurts.

No new campers are no longer allowed into state parks, WDFW or DNR lands as of March 23. Current campers will be phased out following instructions from land officials.

Day-use areas and trails remain open.

Because of the volume of people visiting Washington state’s ocean beaches, state officials are asking the public to avoid those areas.

“People should continue to practice social distancing and good hygiene when recreating outdoors,” state officials said in a March 22 press release.

Campers who have state parks reservations through April 30 will be notified and offered a full refund. Visitors can find the latest information about State Park operations at parks.state.wa.us/COVID19.

Although camping is not allowed, WDFW wildlife areas and water access areas remain open for public use at this time. However, because of theft and increased usage of restrooms on these lands, visitors should plan to bring their own hand sanitizer and toilet paper. For the latest information about WDFW operations, visit wdfw.wa.gov/about/covid-19-updates.

DNR’s dedicated camping areas as well as dispersed camping, or camping outside of designated campsites, will be closed through April 30. Trails remain open and the public is encouraged to practice social distancing and good hygiene while on the trails. For the most up-to-date information for DNR lands, visit dnr.wa.gov/recreation.

Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park announced additional modifications to operations to support federal, state and local efforts to slow the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus.

Instituted on March 22, Olympic National Park restricted services outside those that support visitor or resource protection.

All park campgrounds are closed, including: Staircase, Heart O’ the Hills, Ozette, Mora, Hoh, Kalaloch, Queets, North Fork and Graves Creek.

Deer Park, Fairholme, Sol Duc and South Beach have not opened for the season and remain closed at this time.

Visitor centers are also closed.

Winter operations at Hurricane Ridge ended as of March 17. The Hurricane Ridge Road is closed above the Heart O’ the Hills entrance station.

Kalaloch Lodge, Creekside Restaurant and The Mercantile closed as of March 23

Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, Campground and RV Park and Sol Duc Road have delayed opening until April 24.

Outdoor spaces including most hiking trails and day-use areas remain accessible to the public, however, in accordance with the latest federal, state, and local health guidance, in addition to entry fees being waived for visitors.

Law enforcement and public health services will continue operations, ONP officials said.

A number of “virtual” activities are available via the Olympic National Park’s webcams and educational resources; see nps.gov/olym.

“The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, partners, and neighboring communities is our number one priority,” ONP officials said this week. “The National Park Service is working with federal, state and local authorities to closely monitor COVID-19.

“We will notify the public when we resume full operations and provide updates on our website and social media channels.”

National Park Service officials are encouraging visitors to Olympic National Park during this pandemic to adhere to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local public health authorities to protect visitors and employees.

As services are limited, the NPS is urging visitors to continue to practice “Leave No Trace” principles, including pack-in and pack-out, to keep outdoor spaces safe and healthy.

The NPS urges visitors to do their part when visiting a park and to follow CDC guidance to prevent the spread of infectious diseases by maintaining a safe distance between yourself and other groups; washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze; and most importantly, staying home if you feel sick.

For high-risk populations, such as the elderly and people with underlying conditions, we ask that they take extra caution and follow CDC guidance for those at higher risk of serious illness.

Get updates about National Park Service operations at www.nps.gov/coronavirus. Check nps.gov/olym for specific details about park operations.

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