Harrisburg, PA — Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn reminded those who have turned to parks, forests, trails, and neighborhood green spaces throughout the pandemic of the things they can do this holiday weekend to stay safe.
“Our state parks and forests provide excellent avenues for hiking and other outdoor activities this weekend and throughout the year,” Dunn said. “The outdoors have been critical for maintaining for healthy activity and solace during the challenging times of the pandemic. We encourage people to safely and responsibly enjoy the outdoors this Labor Day weekend as we continue to work to limit the spread of COVID-19.”
Pennsylvania is home to 121 state parks, 2.2 million acres of forests, 6,100 local parks, and many other recreational opportunities. The Pennsylvania state park system saw major increases in traffic beginning May 2020 and higher than average traffic continues to be the trend.
Heading into the holiday weekend, there are still openings at campsites across the commonwealth and potential visitors are asked to book now.
Some state parks and forests have experienced damage from Tropical Depression Ida, which may impact Labor Day activities, including swimming, boating, camping, and hiking. State parks significantly affected by the storm include:
- Colonel Denning
- Pine Grove Furnace
- Delaware Canal
- Fort Washington
- Washington Crossing
- Nolde Forest
- Hickory Run
- Lehigh Gorge
Staff continues to assess damage across state parks and additional closures at southcentral and southeastern facilities are possible.
Please check state park and forest web pages for more information or call ahead before heading out for the holiday weekend.
“Plan ahead so you have a good and a safe experience,” Dunn said. “Get online and pick out a few options and remember that state forests also have less-traveled trails and primitive camping that provide good alternatives to high-traffic recreation areas.”
Dunn also reminded people that if they love their outdoor places, they should show it by taking their trash home with them, cleaning up after pets, staying on trails, and respecting other visitors and the natural resources by abiding by rules. This helps staff protect visitor safety and allows the time to complete regular tasks in state parks and forests.
The secretary noted that increased outdoor recreation continues to help boost Pennsylvania’s economy, supporting outfitters, bait and bike shops, and many other small businesses in rural and urban areas.
Swimming pools at state parks that have been open this season will remain open through the holiday weekend. Guests should check individual parks for updates on availability. Many state park beaches are open though the end of September for open swimming. DCNR’s website includes beach updates by park, including those that have been affected by storm damage.
Dunn added that visitors can help keep state parks and forest lands safe by following these other 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
- Take hand sanitizer with you and use 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.