COVID-19 restrictions limit Virginia State Parks to day-use

COVID-19 restrictions limit Virginia State Parks to day-use

CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WWBT) - Effective Friday, 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.

Department of Conservation and Recreation Director Clyde Cristman says (DCR) Virginia state parks already closed their visitor’s centers and indoor facilities when the outbreak began. Since then the director says Virginia State Parks, particularly Pocahontas State park have been thriving, but fears the latest mandates by the governor could change all of that.

“Right now because particularly kids are out of school, we are experiencing the level of visitation in March that we would normally experience in July.,” said Cristman. “We realize that maintaining the campgrounds and keeping the cabins opens was going to continue to be challenging.”

As part of the latest restrictions set forth by the governor, campgrounds, cabins, yurts, and bathhouses will be closed through the end of April. All events during that time have been canceled as well.

According to the DCR website, Virginia State Park staff will not provide a shuttle service for recreation activities. If you intend to participate in activities that have different starting and ending locations, you will have to arrange transportation.

Cristman says that while all cabin and campground reservations made prior to the restrictions were automatically canceled, the DCR says all reservers will receive a refund.

In addition to the latest restrictions, the DCR also provided additional guidelines for their visitors which include:

  • 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.

Parking fees remain in place Cristman says park employees at Pocahontas state park have devised a way to collect your cash while keeping social distancing in mind.

“We have the staff using a butterfly net and we’re going to have cones set up so staff can reach with a butterfly net to collect the entrance fee and then return the visitor’s receipt,” said Cristman.

Cristman says the revenue streams from park fees will be crucial to maintain jobs and continued maintenance of campgrounds. He adds that with over 70,000 collective acres between all of the commonwealth’s 38 state parks there will be plenty of room for social distancing.

Getting outdoors and getting fresh air hopefully can be something to help folKs get behind the virus as well.

Cristman says during the closures the state park staff will have more time to maintain the campgrounds so while folks are enjoying the parks now they will have even more to look forward to coming May.

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