State and county parks on the North Olympic Peninsula — along with two city parks in Sequim — reopened for day use with some restrictions on May 5 after they closed in March due to COVID-19 precautions.
Gov. Jay Inslee announced last week a partial reopening for outdoor activities despite his stay-home order being extended through May 31.
Some fishing, hunting, golfing and day-use of state lands will be permitted starting this week as well.
Olympic National Park will not reopen any areas this week, however. Plans are being made to begin to reopen some park areas mid-to-late May, said Penny Wagner, park public information officer, who added that the Pacific Coast beaches and other areas on the west side of the park are likely to be among the last to be reopened.
In Sequim, Carrie Blake Community Park — including the Water Reuse Demonstration Area, dog park, skate park, fishing pond and community gardens — open this week, as will Pioneer Memorial Park, city arts and parks manager Jason Loihle said Friday.
Kirner Park and Dr. Standard Park will remain closed until further order, city officials noted.
The playground areas, horseshoe, bocce ball and shuffleboard areas at Carrie Blake Community Park will remain closed, and no city facilities will be available for rent.
Restrooms near the pickleball courts will reopen; however, restrooms at the Water Reuse Area will remain closed until further notice.
Public gatherings are not allowed at the reopened parks, including events and team sports such as soccer, football, baseball, pickleball and basketball.
Additionally, any person exhibiting any cold or flu-like symptoms are not permitted in the park or gathering place and should return/stay home, city officials said. Recreation partners must be limited to only those who live in the same household.
Social distancing practices must occur when encountering others, city officials said, and face masks or coverings must be utilized in any situation where social distancing is not possible.
“Any city park may be closed at any time if there is reason to believe unsafe conditions exist or social distancing practices are not being followed,” Loihle said in a press release Friday.
For more about city parks, contact Loihle at 360-582-2458 or email@example.com.
Railroad Bridge Park
With some qualifiers, Railroad Bridge Park is open for public use this week
The parking lot, trails, picnic shelters and restrooms are open to the public from 7 a.m. to dusk, dependent on users practicing physical distancing, park officials said this week.
The Dungeness Center Audubon Center, however, remains closed until Gov. Inslee signals that gathering spaces and shops are cleared to reopen, they said.
The Olympic Discovery Trail that crosses the Dungeness River via the historic Railroad Bridge has remained open all year except for a few days last week, when Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe employees and river center staff replaced two beams on the bridge due to rot.
The bridge, which in 2019 more than 220,000 pedestrians an d cyclists used to cross the river, will undergo a full inspection soon.
“We are doing some bridge repairs … so I will need to close the bridge intermittently for safety reasons,” river center director Powell Jones said.
See dungenessrivercenter.org for more about the park.
Clallam County will reopen all day-use-only parks as well as the day-use portions — not the campgrounds — at Dungeness Recreation Area near Sequim and Salt Creek Recreation Area near Port Angeles.
All day-use areas with restrooms (those with running water), along with campground restrooms will remain locked but will have Sani-Kan delivered for public use, said Joel Winborn, Director of Clallam County Parks, Fair & Facilities. Vault toilets located in day-use areas will be open for public use.
To encourage public safety, county park staff are putting together signage to give guidelines about social/physical distancing based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, Winborn said.
At the Dungeness Recreation Area, campground loops A and B and the campground restrooms will remain closed but the Voice of America Road leading to the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge — and the refuge itself — will be open for public use, county park officials noted.
One ADA-accessible Sani-Kan and one standard Sani-Kan will be installed in the day-use parking area near the campground loop roads.
For more about the Dungeness Recreation Area, call 360-683-5847 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the Salt Creek Recreation Area, upper and lower campgrounds and restrooms will be closed as well as the main gate area, but trails, shoreline and other day use areas will be open for public use, along with access to the beach parking lot and beach overflow parking areas. A park manager and seasonal ranger will be on site 24 hours a day, county park officials said.
For more about the Salt Creek Recreation Area, call 360-928-3441 or email to email@example.com.
Camp David Jr. on Lake Crescent is closed until further notice and will only open “likely very late into the summer, if it opens at all,” he said.
The Clallam County Fairgrounds will remain closed until further notice, Winborn said.
The fair office will remain open but is closed to the public.
”This will likely hinge in large part on what the governor’s plan for reopening dictates,” he said.
Winborn said Inslee’s restrictions on large gatherings may put the annual Clallam County Fair in jeopardy.
Dr. Allison Unthank, Clallam County health officer, urged county parks to open in coordination with other parks at an Emergency Management Center (EOC) briefing on April 29.
“I know any time we start to reopen things after we close them, it causes some anxiety,” she said. “The thing to know is I think it is very possible to do outdoor recreation well.”
For more about Clallam parks and updates on closures/re-openings, call 360-417-2291 or see www.clallam.net/parks.
Washington State Parks will reopen state-managed lands on Tuesday, May 5, for local day-use recreation only, state parks officials and Gov. Inslee announced on April 27.
The reopening will apply to state-managed parks, wildlife areas, recreation land and boat launches, park officials said.
The list includes Sequim Bay State Park and Port Townsend’s Fort Worden. More than 100 parks and properties will reopen with 18 parks remaining fully or mostly closed including Bogachiel and Anderson Lake parks.
However, it may take several days for gates to be unlocked and sites to be serviced at remote areas due to limited staff capacity.
“Some parks may not open immediately because of impacts on rural communities and the potential for crowding,” park officials said in a statement. “State Parks is working with local communities and its partners to determine the best approach and timing to reopening these areas.”
State visitor centers, camping and other overnight accommodations on state-managed lands will remain closed until further notice, they said.
Fort Worden, Fort Flagler and Fort Townsend state parks will reopen to vehicles and for day use this week. Because of lost revenue during the shutdown, parks have not been able to rehire all of their staff back, so it is unknown when smaller state parks in Jefferson County will reopen, said parks manager/ranger Brian Hagerman.
Campgrounds, group facilities, shelters and staging areas will remain closed to the public until further notice, he said.
See parks.state.wa.us for more information.
Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park officials are beginning to plan for a phased reopening of certain day-use facilities mid-to-late May.
“We can start with facilities that we know may not attract a great number of people from King County or other environs all on their own, and service more of the local folks who want to do their daily exercise or go for a day hike,” Creachbaum said in a COVID-19 briefing on April 29.
Park officials are coordinating with health officials, tribes and communities about when and how areas will be reopened, Wagner said.
The first park areas to be reopened are likely to be on the north side of the park, Wagner said, such as the Lake Crescent area and the Elwha Valley, which remains closed to vehicles because of a washout near the Elwha Campground.
Additional measures will need to be taken before Sol Duc and Hurricane Ridge are reopened, Wagner said.
It is not now known when the final areas to be reopened will welcome visitors on the west side of the park, including the ocean beaches.
Park openings are predicated on having adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), adequate supplies to keep restrooms clean, and adequate enforcement to keep people from crowding around restrooms and other areas, Creachbaum said.
Unthank had previously said she would recommend the federal government reopen Olympic, Mount Rainier and North Cascades national parks at the same time to prevent an influx of tourists from the Seattle area converging on one park.
Olympic National Park’s seasonal workforce likely will be reduced by about one-third this summer because of a federal requirement that one person reside in one room, Creachbaum said.
Visitor center employees, interpretive park rangers and others who work with crowds may not start working until May 24, Creachbaum said.
See www.nps.gov/olym for more about Olympic National Park and COVID-19-related closures and re-openings.