COVID 19: What Natural Areas are Open and the Guidelines to Follow

As we all adjust to a new normal of working from home and social distancing, it’s important to stay up to date on the guidelines, and closures at some of our regions natural areas.

The CDC recommends social distancing of 6 feet or more between you and any other person while being outside. Avoid touching your face. Bring hand sanitizer with you on your walk if possible, and wash your hands as soon as you can after being outdoors. The below recommendations come from the National Recreation and Parks Association for trail users on observing social distance minimums.

There are a number of specific recommendations for advising the public to keep safe social distancing when in parks or on trails:

  • Follow CDC’s guidance on personal hygiene prior to heading to trails — wash hands, carry hand sanitizer, do not use trails if you have symptoms, cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, etc.
  • Observe at all times CDC’s minimum recommended social distancing of six feet from other people. Practice it and know what it looks like. Keep it as you walk, bike or hike.
  • Warn other trail users of your presence and as you pass to allow proper distance and step off trails to allow others to pass, keeping minimum recommended distances at all times. Signal your presence with your voice, bell or horn.
  • Note that trail and park users may find public restrooms closed — be prepared before you leave and time outings so that you are not dependent on public restrooms.
  • Bring water or drinks — public drinking fountains may be disabled and should not be used, even if operable.
  • Bring a suitable trash bag. Leave no trash, take everything out to protect park workers
Credit: National Recreation and Park Association

Here’s a running list of our region’s preserves and parks COVID-19 updates, (but click on the links for the most up to date information):

For allowing Illinois residents to engage in some outdoor activities, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) will reopen select state parks, recreation areas fish and
wildlife areas and trails beginning May 1. Here’s the list of outdoors that are reopening:

  • Northwestern Illinois: Argyle Lake State ParkJubilee College State Park, Lowden State Park, Morrison-Rockwood State Park, Rock Island Trail State Park, Shabbona Lake State Recreation Area.
  • Northeastern Illinois: Chain o’ Lakes State Park, Illinois and Michigan Canal State Trail, Kankakee River State Park, Moraine Hills State Park, North Point Marina
  • East Central Illinois: Clinton Lake State Recreation Area, Eagle Creek State Park, Kickapoo State Park, Wolf Creek State Park
  • West Central Illinois: Eldon Hazlet State Recreation Area, Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area, Sangchris Lake State Park, Siloam Springs State Park, Washington County State Recreation Area
  • Southern Illinois: Fort Massac State Park, Giant City State Park, Stephen A Forbes State Recreation Area, Wayne Fitzgerrell State Recreation Area

Stay tuned for more additions and updates as they become available. You can also use Openlands Get Outside Map to responsibly explore areas in our region.

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