March 21, 2020
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Before visiting public trails or parks during the coronavirus, here are some safety tips

Courtesy of Maine Coast Heritage Trust
Courtesy of Maine Coast Heritage Trust
Hiker Melissa Paly enjoys the beauty of the Hamilton Cove Preserve in Lubec. Hamilton Cove is managed by Maine Coast Heritage Trust and is open to the public for day use.

As of 11 a.m. Friday, March 20, 44 Maine residents have been confirmed positive and 12 others are presumed positive for the coronavirus, according to the state. Click here for the latest coronavirus news, which the BDN has made free for the public. You can support this mission by purchasing a digital subscription.

Maine residents are turning to the joys and comforts of the great outdoors during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s no surprise. But there are a few things you should consider for your own safety and the safety of others if you visit a public trail, park or preserve any time soon.

The Maine Coast Heritage Trust recently released these guidelines for Maine residents to follow when visiting preserves, which can be applied to all shared outdoor spaces:

— If you feel sick, stay home.

— Follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines around personal hygiene, including washing your hands and sanitizing appropriate surfaces.

— Keep a distance of 6 feet from other preserve visitors.

— Attempt to visit a preserve at a time when it’s less likely to be busy.

— Avoid using facilities such as bathrooms and drinking fountains if they’re available.

— Check out the National Recreation and Park Association’s blog on practicing safe social distancing while enjoying the outdoors.

— As always, beware of ticks. Tick season has begun.

“The CDC is encouraging people to practice social distancing, which means avoiding contact and maintaining a distance of 6 feet or more from those who do not share your home,” said Tim Glidden, president of Maine Coast Heritage Trust. “Thankfully, it is possible to maintain this distance, and largely avoid contact with contaminated surfaces, while spending time outside on Maine’s conserved lands. However, we want to emphasize how critical it is that everyone follow the CDC guidelines.”

In the past week, some of Maine’s state parks have seen a 30 to 50 percent increase in traffic. In addition, many Maine preserves are seeing higher than usual visitorship, according to Glidden.

Regarding safety, Maine’s land trusts are monitoring bulletins from the CDC and other agencies, and are encouraging the safe use of preserves for those who are able to visit them.

Maine’s 48 state parks and historic sites are also open, with reduced staffing from 9 a.m. to sunset. Maine state park events, programs and races through April 30 have been canceled, though some may be rescheduled for a later date. Maine State Park playgrounds are also closed.

“Many people have been reaching out over the past several days to express their gratitude for free, open places to get outside in this stressful time,” Glidden said. “It’s heartening to hear people reawakening to the gift of Maine’s outdoors, to the open lands, forests, and rocky coast we’ve worked together to protect over the past five decades.”

Spending time outside in beautiful natural areas — of which there are many in Maine — can help people de-stress. It can also be an opportunity for exercise and education.

So get out there. Enjoy Maine’s many conserved spaces and public trails. But give other visitors plenty of space. And don’t forget to wave at each other and smile.

Watch: What you need to know about handwashing during coronavirus

 


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