National Forests in North Carolina temporarily shutting down all recreation facilities
To protect public health and safety and align with guidance from State of North Carolina health officials and experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recreation facilities at recreation sites on the National Forests in North Carolina (NFs in NC) will be temporarily shut down effective March 26. This includes picnic pavilions, shooting ranges and all restrooms, including those at trailheads and other recreation sites.
These shutdowns are in addition to previous announcements about developed campgrounds, several large developed day use areas, visitor centers and Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) trail systems, which remain temporarily shut down. Forest visitors can still enjoy non-motorized trails and dispersed camping at this time, as long as they follow social distancing guidelines.
“We realize our communities and our visitors place high value on the recreation opportunities the Forest has to offer,” said Allen Nicholas, National Forests in North Carolina Forest Supervisor. “A lot of discussion and consideration went into this decision. The health and safety of our employees and the public remain our top priority. We believe people understand the serious risks posed by facilities that draw large numbers of people into close proximity to each other. We appreciate your patience and understanding of our efforts to mitigate those risks to protect public health and safety.”
The National Forests in NC asks members of the public to recreate responsibly by avoiding gathering in groups of more than ten people and not engaging in high-risk activities, like rock climbing, that increase the chance of injury or distress. Law enforcement and search and rescue operations may be limited due to COVID-19. In addition, visitors can help mitigate resource impacts while recreation sites are shut down by bringing home their trash (pack it in, pack it out), and by appropriately managing human waste by burying it at least six to eight inches deep and 200 feet away from water, trails and recreation sites.
The National Forests in NC will continue to coordinate its COVID-19 response in alignment with all federal, state and local guidance. Visitors to national forests are urged to take the precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For tips from the CDC on preventing illnesses like the coronavirus, go to: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html.
Visitors are also encouraged to review the National Forests in North Carolina website for updates and more information, at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/nfsnc