In-person out of doors applications return to Pennsylvania state parks and forests in April

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Outdoor programs such as guided nature walks and personal wildlife programs will return to Pennsylvania State Parks on Sunday, April 4th.

In an announcement today, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources also revealed an increase in occupancy limits in State Park and State Forest buildings.

“These and other operational changes follow Department of Health guidelines while adding to the enjoyment of state parks and woodland visitors,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have kept our country open to everyone so that people can safely enjoy outdoor recreation for positive physical and mental health.

“Environmental education and other outdoor programs have helped our state park system gain national notoriety, and we know they have been sorely missed by our visitors.”

In state parks and forests, starting Sunday April 4th:

  • Personal outdoor programs will continue with a limit of 40 participants per program. Masks and social distancing are required.
  • The exhibition halls, information areas and theaters of the visitor center will be opened with a visit allowance of 75 percent. Masks and social distancing are required.
  • Volunteer work days continue with a limit of 40 participants per group. Masks and social distancing are required.
  • Virtual and self-guided programs will continue to be offered.
  • Scheduled programs are listed on DCNR’s events calendar.

Major DCNR sponsored events are canceled until further notice.

Visitor centers, offices, theaters, and information wings in state parks and forests will return to an occupancy limit of 75 percent of capacity. All visitors and employees must wear masks and practice social distancing and frequent hand sanitizing or washing.

Meetings of volunteer friends must be virtual or outdoors in park or forest facilities. Outdoor facilities must be below the occupancy limit of 50 percent, social distancing must be practiced and masks must be worn.

  • The state will open more than twice as many state parks to trout anglers

Voluntary working days that are not viewed as organized park or forest events can be continued with no more than 40 people per group. Multiple groups are allowed in different places and at different times. Masks and social distancing are required.

Third-party events can continue if set guidelines are followed. DCNR staff may be present to ensure public safety and compliance with the event agreement.

Only packaged foods can be offered in conjunction with programs or volunteer work days.

According to the DCNR announcement, any future occupancy changes will be re-evaluated and will ensure compliance with all applicable Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Pennsylvania Department of Health guidelines.

Secretary Dunn noted that visits to Pennsylvania State Parks have increased by more than a million monthly visitors since the mitigation efforts began, and that interest is expected to continue into spring and well into summer.

To avoid being exposed to the coronavirus outdoors:

  • Do not hike or reconstruct in groups. Go with those under the same roof and keep a social distance of 6 feet.
  • Take a hand sanitizer with you and use it regularly.
  • Do not touch your face, eyes and nose.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or a bent elbow when you cough and sneeze.
  • If you are sick, stay home.

Visitors can help keep state parks and wooded areas safe by following the following practices:

  • Avoid crowded parking lots and trailheads.
  • Bring a bag and either take out your trash or dispose of it properly.
  • Clean up after pets.
  • Avoid activities that put you at higher risk of injury so that you don’t need to go to the emergency room.

Pennsylvania has 121 state parks and 20 forest counties. All are open all year round.

Visit the DCNR website for more information.

Contact Marcus Schneck at [email protected]