“During this public health crisis, spending time in outdoor spaces has become more important than ever. Yet these unusual circumstances mean that all of us, from seasoned outdoor enthusiasts to families heading out to their local park for the first time, could use a little guidance about how to stay safe. The Recreate Responsibly guidelines offer a starting point for getting outside to keep yourself healthy and to maintain access to our parks, trails, and beaches.” (source: Recreate Responsibly)
As stated in my previous blog post, Parks Were Essential in 2020, local, state, and national parks across the country saw record visitation during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. However, that visitation came with a toll on many parks, with visitors leaving trash and negatively impacting trails by not following Leave No Trace principles. Therefore, I am encouraging everyone reading this to #RecreateResponsibly by following these seven guidelines for keeping yourself healthy and protecting the places we love and enjoy. The following are the seven Recreate Responsibly guidelines from their website:
- Know Before You Go – Check the status of the place you want to visit. If it is closed, don’t go. If it’s crowded, have a back up plan.
- Plan Ahead – Prepare for facilities to be closed, pack lunch, and bring essentials like hand sanitizer and a face covering.
- Explore Locally – Limit long-distance travel and make use of local parks, trails, and public spaces. Be mindful of your impact on the communities you visit.
- Practice Physical Distancing – Keep your group size small. Be prepared to cover your nose and mouth and give others space. If you are sick, stay home.
- Play It Safe – Slow down and choose lower-risk activities to reduce your risk of injury. Search and rescue operations and health care resources are both strained.
- Leave No Trace – Respect public lands and waters, as well as Native and local communities. Take all your garbage with you.
- Build an Inclusive Outdoors – Be an active part of making the outdoors safe and welcoming for all identities and abilities.
In closing, the outdoors will continue to remain essential for exercise, relaxation, and stress relief throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Therefore, it is all of our responsibility to do our part to keep ourselves and others healthy while protecting the places we love and enjoy.