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Useful Trail News

March 2020

COVID-19 and Virginia State Parks

Last Updated: March 25, 2020

Virginia State Parks are open for day-use activities.

As always, we have the safety and well-being of our visitors and staff in mind. We continue to monitor the situation with COVID-19, and this page will be updated as new information becomes available.

Effective Friday March 27 overnight facilities and restrooms will be closed through April 30. The closure includes all cabins, campgrounds, camping cabins and yurts, as well as restrooms and bathhouses.

Also, in adherence with federal guidance and the Governor’s executive order, all visitor centers and other indoor facilities are closed to the public. Park staff is available by phone if assistance is needed. Groups or gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited and these restrictions will be enforced by park staff.

We do ask that if you are sick, have been around someone who is sick and/or experiencing symptoms consistent with the COVID-19 infection that you please refrain from visiting. It is very important that guests follow social distancing guidelines during all visits by keeping a distance of 6 feet or more between themselves and other guests.

Guidelines for day-use visits:
Stay close to home and keep visits short.
Guests should bring their own soap and hand sanitizer to use during day-use visits.
Groups and gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited and these restrictions will be enforced by park staff.
Guests should keep a distance of at least 6 feet from others at all times. While on trails, alert others of your presence and step aside to let others pass at a safe distance.
Parking fees remain in place. Guests should be prepared to self-pay with cash or check at the contact station.
Programs and Events
All in-person programs and events are canceled as well as any event of 10 or more people that is scheduled through April 30.

Virginia State Park staff will not provide shuttle service for recreation activities. If you intend to participate in activities that have different starting and ending locations, you will want to prepare to have transportation available at your start and end points.

Camping, Cabins and other accommodations
All overnight facilities will be closed effective Friday, March 27, through April 30. Reservations will be canceled and reservation holders will automatically receive refunds.

Shelters and Outdoor Venues
Effective through April 30, all picnic shelter, amphitheater and other outdoor facility rentals will be canceled. Those facilities will be available to the public without reservation on a first-come, first-served basis. Per CDC guidance and 4VAC5-30-90 all groups and gatherings exceeding 10 people are prohibited.

Reservations
If you have concerns or questions about future reservations, please call our Customer Service Center at 800-933-7275, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Any private event occurring between now and April 30, and estimating more than 10 people in attendance, must be canceled per the Governor’s guidance. A full refund will be provided.

What You Can Do
Keep in mind that you are recreating in a public facility. While we are making increased efforts toward sanitation, each surface is only as clean as the last person who touched it. Therefore, you should take steps to protect your health by following these guidelines provided by the Virginia Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control:


Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds at a time.
Avoid touching your face.
If you’re sick with any ailment, stay home. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
When in public, maintain a social distance of at least six feet.
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw it away. If you don’t have a tissue, use your elbow.
Clean surfaces you touch regularly.
 

Resources
Looking for more information about the coronavirus? Here are a few resources to help:

Governor Northam's Updates
Centers for Disease Control
Virginia Department of Health

North Carolina Park closures
Due to declared state of emergency in various counties, beach closures and continued crowding that does not adhere to social distancing guidelines, the following parks are closed:

Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park (Eagle Rock and Rumbling Bald accesses are open)
Crowders Mountain State Park
Fort Fisher State Recreation Area
Fort Macon State Park
Gorges State Park
Hanging Rock State Park
Jockey's Ridge State Park (open to residents of Dare County only)
Lake James State Park
Lake Waccamaw State Park
Morrow Mountain State Park
Mount Mitchell State Park
Pilot Mountain State Park
Raven Rock State Park
South Mountains State Park
Stone Mountain State Park
 
Day-use
Most trails at the parks not listed above are open. All restrooms are CLOSED. Most boat ramps and fishing are open, at the discretion of park staff. Visitor centers, park offices, picnic shelters, and community buildings are closed. Some parks may also limit parking areas and access to typically crowded areas. All state parks will close at sunset every day.

Please check the individual park pages or call the park prior to your visit to confirm the status of park facilities.
 

Events and programs
All events and programs at state parks have been canceled until further notice.
 

Camping
All campgrounds are closed until at least April 30. Reservation system staff will contact campers with existing reservations to issue full refunds in the order of their reservation date. Please be patient; campers are advised not to call the reservations number at this time, as staff are currently inundated with phone calls.

 


A message from the Director of State Parks
 
North Carolina State Parks are part of the fabric of North Carolina, preserving some of the most iconic features of our state. We have made the closures listed above with the safety and well-being of our visitors and staff in mind.

If you are sick or experiencing symptoms consistent with the COVID-19 virus, please postpone your visit to North Carolina state parks.

We will continue to monitor the situation with COVID-19 in North Carolina and worldwide to ensure we are following the best protocols for the safety of those who visit our parks. We will update our website when new information becomes available. If you visit a park, please follow social distancing guidelines by keeping a distance of 6 feet or more between you and other visitors.
 

Tips for visiting parks:
Use the restroom prior to coming to the park. All restrooms at parks are closed.
Do not take group pictures that violate social distancing guidelines.
Do not share your camera with others to take pictures.
Dogs MUST be kept on a leash — violators will be cited.
Do not touch other visitors' pets or allow yours to be touched.
Employ social distancing when enjoying scenic venues.
Come to the park early or in the middle of the week to avoid the largest crowds.
Do not enter areas or parks that have been closed.
 
What you can do:
Avoid touching your face and putting your hands near your eyes, nose, or mouth.
If you're sick, stay home. If you feel well, avoid close contact with people who are sick.
When visiting state parks and everywhere else, maintain a social distance of at least 6 feet.
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw it away. If you don't have a tissue, use your elbow.
Thoroughly clean surfaces you touch regularly, especially your phone and/or tablet.
 
Resources
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web page on COVID-19
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services web page on COVID-19
 
The parks are free and yours to enjoy. Please come out and enjoy a healthy walk while maintaining a safe social distance.

 
 Posted on: Wednesday, March 25, 2020 - 11:47am


 

January 2020

Dear Virginia State Park Supporters:

I want to take just a moment of your time to talk about the ever-growing EXCITEMENT
for Virginia State Parks in this year's 2020 General Assembly. The VAFP,
supported by VSP and DCR have managed to persuade Governor Northam to put an
unprecedented $144 million in his 2021 capital budget request, and just over $1
million in operations for Virginia State Parks. The hard work by the VAFP,
Volunteers, and Staff over the past few years looks as though it may pay off.

In addition to the $144 million proposed by Governor Northam, the VAFP will be
requesting SIX ADDITIONAL Budget Amendment Requests.

Youth Conservation Corps in All Parks
Inclusion of DCR Conservation Officers into VaLors (Virginia Law Enforcement
Officer Retirement System)
Daniel Boone Interpretive Center Operations and Staffing - (Satellite of Natural
Tunnel State Park)
Pocahontas State Park - New Cabin Support
Sweet Run State Park Operations and Staffing
Natural Bridge State Park Operations and Staffing

Our SIX AMENDMENTS include funding dollars and an ADDITIONAL 9 Full Time Employees.
ALL SIX of our Amendments are sponsored by House and Senate Members.

Find a summary of the Governor's proposed increased funding for State Parks,
the VAFP one page advocacy document, the Virginia State Parks 2019 Economic Impact
Study, and a current list of Delegates and Senators that show the Representatives
for YOUR PARK, in the LINKS BELOW.

FOLKS, IT'S TIME to PICKUP the PHONE and EMAIL your representative!!!!!!

Please take a moment to reach out to your representatives and ask for their support
of Governor Northam's Budget increases for Virginia State Parks AND our SIX
BUDGET AMENDMENTS! IT is CRITICAL that they hear from as many voters as possible.
Reach out to your Friends Group members, neighbors, co-workers, and State Park
enthusiasts to SUPPORT OUR EFFORTS.

We have not had this OPPORTUNITY to SUCCESSFULLY support our parks MONETARILY in
many, many years.

THIS IS OUR TIME!!!!!

Feel free to reach out to me with questions at timkennellvafp@gmail.com. Thank you
for your support of VIRGINIA STATE PARKS.

TIM
Tim Kennell
President, Virginia Association for Parks

Helpful Links:
Governor Northam's Budget for Office of Natural Resources including State Park One Page Advocacy Document
Virginia State Parks 2019 Economic Impact Study
2020 List of Delegates and Senators by Park
Sign up for periodic text messages on issues critical to parks in Virginia including General Assembly alerts 
Text VAFP to 888777

January 11, 2020 Petersburg National Battlefield

The section of Poor Creek Trail along Colquitt’s Salient has been closed for the nesting season of the bald eagles. Due to the nest being in close proximity to the trail, please adhere to the trail closure and do not cross or go around the barriers. This is a very sensitive time for the eagles and continuous human disturbance may lead to nest abandonment. Thank you for adhering to the trail closure and helping protect our bald eagles.

The first observation of the nesting pair in the park was back in 2003. Park staff have begun to monitor and await to see signs of the adults incubating eggs. Stay tuned for exciting updates on our majestic bald eagles.

December 2, 2019 SEAT Meeting

Guest Speaker: Mike Barber-Director of Parks, Recreation and Tourism for Chesapeake spoke about the availability of funds for improvement projects at the city parks over the next few years. He emphasized the need for better communication between the horse community and the department. Mike suggested creating a committee and/or having folks from the horse community serve on the Chesapeake Parks, Recreation, and Tourism advisory board, which meets the first Thursday of each month. Currently there are several improvement projects in the works at Northwest River Park, such as; the paving of the gravel road from the ranger station to the river, building a new ranger station and removing the old buildings, and repairing the Marjorie Rein Memorial walkway. The future Heritage Park has funds available also, but needs to have input from the horse community on each phase of development. The Dismal Swamp trail was mentioned as a concern for riding due to the overgrowth of scrubs and branches along the edge of the road forcing the horses to walk on the asphalt. Mike encouraged us to call the main contact number at 757-382-6411 with any concerns such as this one. Kevin Kaul-Parks Manager, Lauren- Northwest River Park, and Ana Elezovic-Planner II were also in attendance from the city.

Please let the city know that we would like to see some of the money allocated to go to improvements to the equestrian areas and equestrian trails. The more people that voice their support or concerns for Northwest River Park, Heritage Park, and Dismal Swamp Canal Trail, the better the chances are of seeing improvements.

You can email your comments to;

Chesapeake Parks & Rec. at ContactPRT@cityofchesapeake.net 

Chesapeake’s City Manager at citymanager@cityofchesapeake.net 

Chesapeake’s City Council at council@cityofchesapeake.net