Coronavirus: ODNR closes campgrounds, horse camps, public restrooms, APV areas

ajc.com

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has closed additional facilities in response to the state’s stay-at-home order during the coronavirus pandemic.

Now closed are all purpose vehicle areas, campgrounds, horse camps and public restrooms, the ODNR said in a release.

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“These are difficult decisions to make, and we appreciate the patience and understanding of our outdoor enthusiasts,” said Dan Balser, chief of the ODNR Division of Forestry. “Visitors can still enjoy the state forests and for the safety of those visitors, it is our intent that these closures will prevent the gathering of large groups.”

Hiking is permitted on all state forest trails, including APV trails. Public outdoor spaces and all other trail systems, including small remote backpack camps will remain open. Bridle trails and mountain bike trails remain open for their designated uses, but visitors should follow social distancing guidelines.

The ODNR warns that due to the stay-at-home order, its staff is not able to inspect the trails, remove downed trees and perform other work at the park system.

These measures will be in place until COVID-19 guidelines change or are lifted.

Visitors should use common sense and follow this guidance from the National Recreation and Park Association for staying safe while they are out:

  • Follow Centers for Disease Control's guidance on personal hygiene prior to heading to trails — wash hands, carry hand sanitizer, do not use trails if you have symptoms, cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, etc.
  • Observe at all times CDC's minimum recommended social distancing of six feet from other people. Practice it and know what it looks like. Keep it as you walk, bike or hike.
  • Warn other trail users of your presence and as you pass to allow proper distance and step off trails to allow others to pass, keeping minimum recommended distances at all times. Signal your presence with your voice, bell or horn.
  • Note that trail users may find public restrooms closed — be prepared before you leave and time outings so you are not dependent on public restrooms.
  • Bring water or drinks — public drinking fountains may be disabled and should not be used, even if operable. It is important that hikers on state forest backpack trails take their own water or filtration system because backpack trail water tanks will not be refilled at this time.
  • Bring a suitable trash bag. Leave no trash, take everything out to protect workers.