Maine’s “Stay Healthy at Home” mandate recognizes “engaging in outdoor exercise activities, such as walking, hiking, running or biking” as essential personal activities, as long as they are done safely and according to public health guidelines.
Coastal Rivers Conservation Trust and other conservation organizations in Maine place a high priority on keeping public preserves open and available for everyone during this public health crisis. At the same time, these organizations are making every effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 and limit stress on first responders.
Coastal Rivers and other Maine outdoor organizations are asking individuals and families who use public preserves to help with this effort by following three simple steps:
– Find the right time and place to go
– Be prepared before heading out
– Heed all COVID-19 health warnings
Finding the right time and place to go includes looking for places that are less crowded. Coastal Rivers recommends checking the website of the trail’s managing organization for the latest information on condition and closures. Information on Coastal Rivers preserves can be found online at coastalrivers.org/preserves-trails.
Residents planning to visit a public preserve should have one or two back-up plans in place before heading out. If the parking lot is full, then the preserve is full, and visitors will need to either come back another time or choose a less crowded preserve. Trails may be less busy earlier or later in the day.
There is often much to see in one’s own backyard and neighborhood, and that may be the safest option.
Being prepared for trail conditions will also help minimize stress on first responders and medical resources. This means having the right footwear and clothing for spring weather in Maine, which can be muddy, wet, and unpredictable. It also means keeping an eye out for ticks. Now is not the time to test strenuous or difficult trails and end up in the hospital, further taxing a health care system that is already stretched thin. Packing snacks and water, to avoid having to make stops along the way, will also help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
COVID-19 health warnings caution people to stay at least six feet away from other people who do not share a household. This may mean people will need to step off a trail to let others pass. Another way to limit spread of the virus is to avoid touching signs, kiosks, buildings, benches, or other preserve structures. Anyone who is feeling sick or who has had contact with anyone who is sick should stay at home.
Dogs should be leashed at all times on Coastal Rivers preserves. Dogs may cause injury to others, placing additional strain on healthcare resources.
Many people find that exercising and being outside in nature are good ways to relieve stress and stay healthy. Following public health guidelines and common sense when visiting public preserves will help ensure these areas can remain open for all.