HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ) — The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) announced a phased opening of all state park swimming beaches and some pools.
Effective June 6, all 58 state park beaches will be open to swimming. State park pools will remain closed through at least June 12, with most in designated yellow and green counties reopening June 13.
Capacity at beaches and pools will be limited to 50 percent of the normal facility capacity. Mitigation measures will be in place, including restricting visitor parking, controlling facility access, social distancing, and the wearing of face masks when not in the water.
All CDC guidance will remain in effect.
“Water-based activity is an integral part of the state park experience in Pennsylvania and, with appropriate protocols in place to ensure safety and as staffing permits, this department continues to reopen its state parks and forests so that Pennsylvanians can realize all the benefits of being outdoors,” Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said.
Meanwhile, in a related development as the latest counties were announced as yellow, Dunn said facilities would be reopening at 18 state parks in eight counties. Family campground sites and park offices will open May 29 at these 18 state parks.
Also opening May 29 will be district offices in the following state forest districts: Michaux, Weiser, Rothrock and Delaware. Pinchot’s Luzerne County sites will open; however designated campsites will remain closed at Moon Lake Recreation Area. Pinchot Resource Management Center, in red Lackawanna County, will remain closed and not be issuing permits or conducting other business before June 5. Pinchot State Forest in Lackawanna County is open (under red county guidelines), but designated campsites and picnic pavilions are closed.
In counties first announced as yellow, park and forest district offices and tent and RV camping reopened May 15.
Facilities such as cabins, cottages, lodges, and yurts will be opening statewide on June 12th.
The Nature Inn at Bald Eagle State Park, Centre County, also reopened May 15.
DCNR is following Governor Wolf’s plan and process for reopening Pennsylvania using red, yellow and green colors to outline restrictions in place for that county. The red phase has the most restrictions, which are eased as counties move to yellow and green.
DCNR is following this approach to begin opening facilities in counties that are designated as yellow.
Regardless of any county color designation, all state parks and forests now have at least one restroom open to the public in day-use areas and in marinas statewide. Additional cleaning protocols are in place to help protect park and forest visitors.
In addition, the public can still access DCNR trails, lakes, rivers, streams, forests, roads, and parking areas statewide for recreation.
All nine marinas in state parks are open. Shoreline mooring sites at all state parks also are open. In addition, three public golf courses in Caledonia and Evansburg state parks and Michaux State Forest are authorized to be open to the public. These golf courses are operated by private concessions.
Boat concessions (which are privately operated) in red counties will remain closed. Boat concessions in yellow counties are permitted to be open, but in some cases are not. State parks should be called directly for more information about marinas and boat concessions.
All picnic pavilion reservations, playgrounds, nature play areas, interpretive centers, amphitheaters, and group camping facilities statewide will remain closed until further notice..
Picnic tables in state parks are dispersed to allow room to spread out and avoid crowds. Campsites and cabins should only be used by members living in the same household as part of COVID-19 mitigation efforts.
People who live in areas still under stay-at-home orders should not travel long distances for outdoor recreation, and instead should look for opportunities close to home. Pennsylvania has 6,000 local parks and more than 12,000 miles of trails available (check first to make sure they are open, as some local parks are closed).
Visitors can help keep state parks and forest lands safe by following these practices:
- Avoid crowded parking lots and trailheads
- Bring a bag and either carry out your trash or dispose of it properly
- Clean up after pets
- Avoid activities that put you at greater risk of injury, so you don’t require a trip to the emergency room
To help avoid exposure to COVID-19 and protect others, and still enjoy the outdoors:
- Don’t hike or recreate in groups – go with those under the same roof, and adhere to social distancing (stay 6 feet apart)
- Wear a mask
- Take hand sanitizer with you and use it regularly
- Avoid touching your face, eyes, and nose
- Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with a tissue or flexed elbow
- If you are sick, stay home
Pennsylvania has 121 state parks, and 20 forest districts.