RALEIGH, N.C. (WAVY) — North Carolina officials are urging residents to take precautions after the number of visitations at public lands rises to record numbers amid the coronavirus outbreak.
According to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visitation at many state forests in that state is two and three times greater than what is typical for this time of the year even at a time of social distancing.
“Public lands, including state forests and parks, and national forests, are experiencing record-high attendance, making social distancing more challenging,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler.
Many public lands have temporarily closed, restricting public access until further notice due to heavy visitation. N.C. Forest Service officials note that some visitors are following social distancing guidelines while others are not.
Many state parks, state forests and national forests are experiencing large congregations of visitors in parking areas.
If you are planning to visit public lands during the COVID-19 pandemic, here are some useful tips to keep in mind:
- Stay close to home. Enjoy outdoor recreation in your neighborhood. Faraway places are wonderful but traveling long distances can increase your potential to spread illness.
- Pay close attention to guidance in your community before heading outside. Be aware of any guidelines, restrictions or closures mandated by your local or state government.
- Expect closures. Use the restroom before leaving home.
- Avoid times and places of high use. Visit early in the day or in the middle of the week.
- Keep hiking groups to three people or less.
- Wash your hands and follow CDC guidelines carefully.
- Be a good steward for nature and the people around you.
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