DCNR moves to open state park swimming beaches, pools

Effective June 6, all 58 state park beaches will be open to swimming

Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn announced a phased opening of all state park swimming beaches and some pools in keeping with Gov. Tom Wolf’s direction to ensure Pennsylvanians have opportunities to safely enjoy outdoor recreation and help maintain positive physical and mental health.

Effective June 6, all 58 state park beaches will be open to swimming. State park pools will remain closed through at least June 12, with most in designated yellow and green counties reopening June 13.

“Water-based activity is an integral part of the state park experience in Pennsylvania and, with appropriate protocols in place to ensure safety and as staffing permits, this department continues to reopen its state parks and forests so that Pennsylvanians can realize all the benefits of being outdoors,” Dunn said.

Capacity at beaches and pools will be limited to 50 percent of the normal facility capacity, the secretary noted. Mitigation measures will be in place, including restricting visitor parking, controlling facility access, social distancing and the wearing of face masks when not in the water. All CDC guidance remains in effect.

Facilities such as cabins, cottages, lodges and yurts will be opening statewide on June 15.

DCNR is following Wolf’s plan and process for reopening Pennsylvania using red, yellow and green colors to outline restrictions in place for that county. The red phase has the most restrictions, which are eased as counties move to yellow and green. DCNR is following this approach to begin opening facilities in counties that are designated as yellow.

Regardless of any county color designation, all state parks and forests now have at least one restroom open to the public in day-use areas and in marinas statewide. Additional cleaning protocols are in place to help protect park and forest visitors.

In addition, the public can still access DCNR trails, lakes, rivers, streams, forests, roads and parking areas statewide for recreation.

All nine marinas in state parks are open. Shoreline mooring sites at all state parks are also open.

Boat concessions (which are privately operated) in red counties will remain closed. Boat concessions in yellow counties are permitted to be open, but in some cases are not. State parks should be called directly for more information about marinas and boat concessions.

Except for one restroom in each day-use area, all state park and forest facilities in the red phase will remain closed until changes are made consistent with Wolf’s guidelines for reopening.

All picnic pavilion reservations, playgrounds, nature play areas, interpretive centers, amphitheaters, and group camping facilities statewide will remain closed until further notice.

All programs, events and large gatherings at state parks and forests in counties that are designated red are canceled through June 15. Based on availability, organizers will have the option to reschedule later in the year. No new reservations for these activities are being taken.

In counties designated yellow, any events with more than 25 people will be canceled. If the event is under 25 people and outdoors, it will be allowed to occur, however, any indoor events will be canceled.

Picnic tables in state parks are dispersed to allow room to spread out and avoid crowds. Campsites and cabins should only be used by members living in the same household as part of COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

People who live in areas still under stay-at-home orders should not travel long distances for outdoor recreation, and instead should look for opportunities close to home. Pennsylvania has 6,000 local parks and more than 12,000 miles of trails available (check first to make sure they are open, as some local parks are closed).

Visitors can help keep state parks and forest lands safe by following these practices:

– Avoid crowded parking lots and trailheads
– Bring a bag and either carry out your trash or dispose of it properly
– Clean up after pets
– Avoid activities that put you at greater risk of injury, so you don’t require a trip to the emergency room

To help avoid exposure to COVID-19 and protect others, and still enjoy the outdoors:

– Don’t hike or recreate in groups – go with those under the same roof, and adhere to social distancing (stay 6 feet apart)
– Wear a mask
– Take hand sanitizer with you and use it regularly
– Avoid touching your face, eyes and nose
– Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with a tissue or flexed elbow
– If you are sick, stay home

Pennsylvania has 121 state parks and 20 forest districts.

Visit dcnr.pa.gov/Pages/default.aspx for more information.