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DCNR announces phased reopening of all remaining state parks and forests

Facilities in state parks in Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, and Philadelphia counties will open Friday
Credit: WPMT

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn on Friday announced the phased reopening of state parks and forest facilities in southeast and northeast Pennsylvania. 

The re-openings are in line with Governor Tom Wolf’s direction to ensure Pennsylvanians have opportunities to safely enjoy outdoor recreation and help maintain positive physical and mental health, Dunn said.

Facilities in 19 state parks will be reopening as the following counties move from the red to yellow phases of the state’s phased reopening plan: Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton and Philadelphia.

“With these latest reopenings, a long- awaited normalcy is beginning to return to all of our 121 state parks and our state forests throughout Pennsylvania, and that’s welcomed news to all,” Dunn said in a press release. “Park visitors are reminded, effective Saturday, June 6, all 58 state park beaches will be open to swimming.”

The secretary noted state park swimming pools will remain closed through June 12.  

Some pools in yellow phase and green phase counties will reopen on June 13, she said.

RELATED: State DCNR secretary says all beaches and some pools will re-open in PA state parks

RELATED: DCNR announces plans to re-open more state parks in yellow-phase counties

Capacity at beaches and pools will be limited to 50 percent of the normal facility capacity, the secretary noted. Mitigation measures will be in place, including restricting visitor parking, controlling facility access, social distancing and the wearing of face masks when not in the water. 

All Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance remains in effect, Dunn added.

Dunn reminded visitors lifeguards are on duty at beaches at two state parks: Fuller Lake, at Pine Grove Furnace State Park, Cumberland County, and Presque Isle State Park, Erie County.

Because of necessary maintenance work, swimming pools at Ryerson Station State Park, Greene County, and Codorus State Park, York County will not be opening for the 2020 season, Dunn said.

At the 19 state parks in the latest counties moving from red to yellow phase, Dunn said family campground sites and park offices are among facilities reopening. 

State forest district offices, including William Penn, will be open Friday.

Facilities such as cabins, cottages, lodges, and yurts will be opening statewide June 12, Dunn said. In all DCNR facilities, additional cleaning protocols are in place to help protect park and forest visitors. 

DCNR has followed Governor Wolf’s plan and process for reopening Pennsylvania using red, yellow and green colors to outline restrictions in place for that county. During this period, the public has been able to access DCNR trails, lakes, rivers, streams, forests, roads, and parking areas statewide for recreation, Dunn said.

All nine marinas in state parks are open, according to Dunn. Shoreline mooring sites at all state parks also are open. 

In addition, three public golf courses in Caledonia and Evansburg state parks and Michaux State Forest are authorized to be open to the public. These golf courses are operated by private concessions, Dunn said.

Boat concessions in yellow phase counties are permitted to be open, but in some cases are not, Dunn said. Visitors are advised to call State parks directly for more information about marinas and boat concessions. 

All picnic pavilion reservations, playgrounds, nature play areas, interpretive centers, amphitheaters, and group camping facilities statewide will remain closed in yellow areas, Dunn said, and all programs, events, and large gatherings at state parks and forests that were cancelled through June 15 will remain in place. Organizers were given the option to reschedule later in the year, according to Dunn.

In counties designated yellow, any events with more than 25 people will be cancelled. If the event is under 25 people and outdoors it will be allowed to occur, however any indoor events will be cancelled.

Picnic tables in state parks are dispersed to allow room to spread out and avoid crowds. Campsites and cabins should only be used by members living in the same household as part of COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

People are advised not to travel long distances for outdoor recreation, and instead should look for opportunities close to home. Pennsylvania has 6,000 local parks and more than 12,000 miles of trails available (check first to make sure they are open, as some local parks are closed).

Find open state park and forest facilities by county using the DCNR Reopening Map.

Visitors can help keep state parks and forest lands safe by following these practices:

  • Avoid crowded parking lots and trailheads
  • Bring a bag and either carry out your trash or dispose of it properly
  • Clean up after pets
  • Avoid activities that put you at greater risk of injury, so you don’t require a trip to the emergency room

To help avoid exposure to COVID-19 and protect others, and still enjoy the outdoors:

  • Don’t hike or recreate in groups – go with those under the same roof, and adhere to social distancing (stay 6 feet apart)
  • Wear a mask
  • Take hand sanitizer with you and use it regularly
  • Avoid touching your face, eyes, and nose
  • Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with a tissue or flexed elbow
  • If you are sick, stay home

Pennsylvania has 121 state parks, and 20 forest districts.