State park and wildlife officials said today they will clamp down on the number of visitors allowed in state parks, “following crowding and public health concerns.”
With Delaware’s 900,000 residents on a virtual lockdown, droves of cooped up fresh-air seekers have headed to state and county parks to stretch their legs and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors.
However, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), which oversees the state parks and wildlife areas, is taking action to protect public health after seeing crowded conditions at some parks and a lack of safe social distancing.
Starting tomorrow, Friday April 10, DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin said that vehicle access will be limited at times if visitor volume is imperiling public health. The restrictions will be implemented by DNREC’s Natural Resources Police.
“As the days have gotten nicer and the stay-at-home period endures, we have been increasingly concerned to see the behavior of some visitors to our state parks and wildlife areas, with full parking lots and increasingly crowded trails,” said Secretary Shawn Garvin.
“Limiting the number of people when we see too much crowding will allow us to keep these public spaces open for individuals who need a break and fresh air, but to keep everyone safe,” he said.
DNREC provided the following tips and guidance for visiting state parks and wildlife areas at this time:
- Parks or wildlife areas may be restricted, or areas may be closed if it is determined based on observation of parking lots or groupings of people that lack of responsible social distancing has become an issue.
- While parks and wildlife areas are large, many visitors use the same amenities. Visitors should try to spread out from others within these areas.
- Visitors to parks and wildlife areas are urged to limit the time of their visit so the overall number of people in each area is reduced.
- Consider visiting parks and wildlife areas in off-peak times. For overall visitation, sunnier and warmer days are more popular than cloudier or cooler ones. In many parks, visitors pick up mid-afternoon.
- Bathrooms remain closed in all parks and wildlife areas and at boat ramps.
- Beaches are closed except for exercise, dog-walking and some vehicle surf-fishing under restricted conditions.
- Out-of-state visitors must observe a 14-day quarantine before entering a park or wildlife area.
- Responsible social distancing practices should always be maintained, even while outside.
- All currently allowable activities are subject to change.
- These provisions all come under the authority of Governor Carney’s state of emergency declarations and have the force and effect of law.
Anyone concerned about an individual or group in any state park or wildlife area may contact DNREC’s Natural Resources Police via Tip411, DNREC’s smartphone app, or by calling the 24-hour DNREC Dispatch Center at 302-739-4580.