YORK COUNTY, Pa. — As the smoke starts to clear in Pennsylvania, air quality concerns continue to be monitored by health and wildlife officials, especially in areas of severe drought.
Despite the concerns, Pennsylvania residents appear excited to get back outdoors and resume recreational activities. Officials at Codorus State Park find attendance returning to normal on Friday, June 9, despite looming air quality concerns.
The park experienced a slight drop in attendance earlier this week after the smoke from Canadian wildfires caused some of the worst air quality in the area in the past two decades.
“I did notice around the park yesterday there were fewer people here than normal, less boats out on the lake than what we normally see throughout the week,” said Renee Weidner, an environmental education specialist at Codorus Park.
Codorus maintained regular boating, fishing, and other recreation activities despite a decrease in park attendance, operating relatively normally unlike other parks in Pennsylvania.
“There were some parks in the state that did cancel some programs that were targeted to extremely young children, or certain groups of people that they didn’t want to entice out to the park I guess is the way you would say it,” Weidner said.
Other outdoor activities, such as barbeques, are allowed to continue normally despite the recent burn ban issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
“There is a burn ban in the county right now which does not apply to our campgrounds within state parks,” added Weidner. The ban was issued Monday, June 5 and is scheduled to be lifted Wednesday, July 5.
Wildlife also appeared unaffected by the poor conditions according to park staff, as no irregular behavior or signs of illness were reported.
“I haven’t noticed any changes in their behavior, they’re doing their animal thing out there, we haven’t seen any changes,” Weidner said.
Even with improving air quality, the park remains vigilant to any changes and recommends guests take personal precautions if they choose to visit, especially those with younger children and who may be immunocompromised.
“We’re definitely monitoring the air quality constantly and kind of adjusting how we’re reacting as we go along, and we actually have masks here at the welcome center,” Weidner said.
Regular park activities are likely not to be changed, noted Weidner. The park plans to have its annual Experience Codorus Outdoors on Sunday, June 11, 2023.