OLYMPIA – Aug 26, 2020 — Starting this week, new aluminum signs will greet visitors at state parks, wildlife areas and recreation lands around the state with guidance on how to “recreate responsibly” during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The signs feature seven tips developed by the Recreate Responsibly Coalition.
The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are installing nearly 400 signs in English and Spanish at popular recreation areas.
Land managers are observing a sharp increase in visits to state public lands compared to previous years leading to health and safety concerns. State land managers’ goal is to provide guidance on how people can protect their families, their communities, and the environment while enjoying public lands, trails, and waters. REI Co-op, a founding member of the Recreate Responsibly Coalition, funded the sign creation.
"We are thrilled to partner with REI to share the message that we’re all in this together as we battle to slow and stop the spread of this pandemic, including while we’re enjoying our public lands," said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz. "This is our collective effort to educate recreationists on the importance of taking precautions while out on the trail or at the local park. We know how critical our lands are to residents during this unprecedented time. We just ask that they enjoy them responsibly."
The Recreate Responsibly Coalition first released their outdoor recreation tips in May as parks, beaches, and recreation areas started to reopen around the state. The recreate responsibly tips follow recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, state and local public health professionals, and recreation experts. Over the summer, the coalition added a new foundational principle, calling on outdoor enthusiasts to do their part to help build a safe and welcoming outdoor for all identities and abilities. The seven guidelines are:
- Know Before You Go: Check the status of the place you want to visit. If it is closed, don’t go. If it’s crowded, have a backup plan.
- Plan Ahead: Prepare for facilities to be closed, pack lunch, and bring essentials like hand sanitizer and a face covering.
- Explore Locally: Limit long-distance travel and make use of local parks, trails, and public spaces. Be mindful of your impact on the communities you visit.
- Practice Physical Distancing: Keep your group size small. Be prepared to cover your nose and mouth and give others space. If you are sick, stay home.
- Play It Safe: Slow down and choose lower-risk activities to reduce your risk of injury. Search and rescue operations and health care resources are both strained.
- Leave No Trace: Respect public lands and communities and take all your garbage with you.
- Build an Inclusive Outdoors: Be an active part of making the outdoors safe and welcoming for all identities and abilities.
“Some of our most treasured areas have seen an unprecedented amount of use this summer,” said WDFW Director Kelly Susewind. “We’re glad to see so many people enjoying the outdoors and visiting public lands, and we’re asking everyone to play their part to protect our natural resources and local communities so these areas can remain open.”
“Our public lands belong to everyone, and everyone has a role to play in keeping them safe and pristine,” said State Parks Director Don Hoch. “These guidelines serve as a reminder of our shared responsibility in maintaining our state’s most treasured places.”
“The Recreate Responsibility Coalition is working to reach all Washingtonians who love the outdoors and seek nature to reflect and recharge,” said Taldi Harrison, REI community and government affairs manager. “The new signs will serve as an important reminder as people start their adventure or moment of solitude that their actions will keep them healthy while helping to maintain open access to parks, trails, and beaches.”
News media contacts:
Parks: Anna Gill, Communications Director, 360-623-0956
WDFW: Rachel Blomker, Communications Manager, 360-701-3101
DNR: Paige DeChambeau, Recreation Communications Manager, 360-790-1886
REI: Megan Behrbaum, Public Affairs, 425-300-4177
About the Recreate Responsibility Coalition
The Recreate Responsibly Coalition is a newly formed partnership of nonprofits, outdoor businesses, and land managers developing and sharing best practices to protect each other and our natural landscapes. We are a diverse community brought together by our love of the outdoors and a desire to help everyone experience the benefits of nature safely during this public health crisis.
Building off the work of the Washington state coalition, which formed to provide guidance to the public as Washington’s public lands were slowly reopening, the national coalition is a working group that looks to unify and amplify common-sense guidance about getting outside during COVID-19.
The national group includes partner organizations representing a diverse community of outdoor groups and advocates committed to helping all Americans navigate new norms and experience the benefits of nature during the COVID-19 pandemic. To learn more, visit recreateresponsibly.org.
About Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission
The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission manages more than 120 state parks and properties totaling approximately 120,000 acres. The Commission provides a variety of recreation opportunities for citizens and provides stewardship protection for a diverse array of natural, cultural and historic resources. State Parks’ statewide programs include long-distance trails, boating safety and winter recreation.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife actively manages about one million acres of land, with 33 wildlife areas and nearly 500 water access areas around the state. These public lands help sustain wildlife habitat and public recreation opportunities for current and future generations. WDFW is the primary state agency tasked with preserving, protecting, and perpetuating fish, wildlife, and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing and hunting opportunities.
About DNR Recreation
The Washington State Department of Natural Resources, led by the Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, manages almost 1,300 miles of trails and 160-plus recreation sites in 3 million acres of working forest state trust lands and 92 natural areas. DNR trust lands keep forests development-free, provide clean water, and generate revenue for public services and school construction. To learn more about recreation on DNR-managed lands, visit dnr.wa.gov/go.
About the REI Co-op
REI is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. The nation’s largest consumer co-op, REI is a growing community of more than 19 million members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips, and outstanding customer service. REI has 165 locations in 39 states and the District of Columbia. If you can’t visit a store, you can shop at REI.com, REI Outlet, or the REI shopping app. REI isn’t just about gear. Adventurers can take the trip of a lifetime with REI’s active adventure travel company, a global leader that runs more than 250 itineraries across all continents. In every community where REI has a presence, professionally trained instructors share their expertise by hosting beginner-to advanced-level classes and workshops about a wide range of activities. To build on the infrastructure that makes life outside possible, REI invests millions annually in hundreds of local and national nonprofits that create access to—and steward—the outdoor places that inspire us all.
Persons with disabilities who need to receive this information in an alternative format or who need reasonable accommodations to participate in WDFW-sponsored public meetings or other activities may contact Dolores Noyes by phone (360-902-2349), TTY (360-902-2207), or email (email@example.com). For more information, see https://wdfw.wa.gov/accessibility/requests-accommodation.
News release number: 20-043