The statewide Stay Healthy at Home mandate identifies “engaging in outdoor exercise activities, such as walking, hiking, running, or biking” as essential personal activities, provided they are conducted in accordance with all public health restrictions and guidance. Maine’s conservation community, natural resource agencies, and outdoor brands want everyone to have the opportunity to get outside during this challenging time.
Most publicly accessible conservation lands are available for healthy outdoor recreation; however, residents must follow guidance to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to prevent unnecessary stress on Maine Warden Service, Forest Rangers, and first responders.
While some popular conservation lands have closed due to overuse and crowding, the majority remains open to the public. As spring weather arrives in Maine, it is critical that all individuals and families who head outdoors follow three simple steps:
– Find the right time and place
– Be prepared before heading out
– Heed all COVID-19 health warnings
These steps can be broken down into useful checklists that will help Mainers to enjoy outdoors in ways that are safe and responsible during this difficult time.
Find the right time and place
-Know what’s close to home: Consider visiting a nearby Wildlife Management Area, or a less-trafficked state park, public land, or local land trust (Maine Trail Finder is a helpful resource)
– Check beforehand: Visit websites to see the latest information on closures or conditions. Please respect all property closures.
– Have a Plan B: If the parking lot is full, the destination is too crowded. Move on to a different location.
– Avoid peak times: Get out earlier or later in the day.
– Recharge in the backyard and neighborhood: Spring in Maine means there is a lot to see and explore right outside the house.
Be Prepared Before Heading Out
-Expect limited services: Facilities like public restrooms are likely closed, so plan accordingly.
-Pack snacks and water: Prepare ahead of time to avoid having to make stops along the way.
-Dress for success: It is spring in Maine, so trails are likely to be wet, muddy, slippery, or icy; bring appropriate gear to match the conditions. Local outdoor brands are open for online sales and are available to give advice on appropriate gear and equipment.
-Don’t take risks: Stick to easier terrain to avoid injuries, which add stress on first responders and medical resources.
-Watch out for ticks: Wear light-colored pants, closed-toe shoes, and apply EPA-approved bug repellent.
Heed All COVID-19 Health Warnings
– Practice social distancing: Stay at least six feet away from other people. If necessary, step aside when passing other people on the trail. And remember that groups of ten or more are prohibited.
– Don’t linger: Shorten time spent at natural stopping points such as waterfalls, summits, and viewpoints so everyone can enjoy them while maintaining a safe distance.
– Don’t touch: Avoid touching signs, kiosks, buildings, and benches to minimize the potent spread of the virus.
– If sick, stay home: It puts others at risk when to leave home while exhibiting symptoms related to COVID-19.
If Mainers follow these guidelines and put public health first, everyone can enjoy Maine’s natural resources in safe and responsible ways during this difficult time together.