AUGUSTA, Maine – The current “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 of our publicly accessible conservation lands are available for healthy outdoor recreation. Still, we all must do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19 and prevent unnecessary stress on our Maine Warden Service, Forest Rangers, and first responders.
While some popular conservation lands have closed recently due to overuse and crowding, the vast 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
The following checklists will help us all enjoy Maine’s outdoors in ways that are safe and responsible during this difficult time. Before you hit the trail, cast a line, or launch a canoe, please be sure to:
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 great resource!)
- Check before you go: 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. If your first destination has a busy parking lot, go to the next spot on your list!
- Avoid peak times: Get out earlier or later in the day.
- Recharge in your backyard and neighborhood!: Spring in Maine means there is a lot to see and explore right in our own yards.
Be Prepared Before Heading Out
- Expect limited services: Facilities like public restrooms are likely closed, so plan accordingly.
- Pack snacks and water: Do what you can 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 who do not live in your household. If necessary, step aside when passing other people on the trail. And remember that groups of 10 or more are prohibited.
- Don’t linger: Shorten your stay when visiting 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 you’re sick, stay home: It puts others at risk when you leave home while exhibiting symptoms related to COVID-19, or if you have recently been exposed to the virus.
If we all follow these guidelines and put public health first, we can enjoy Maine’s natural resources in safe and responsible ways as we work through this difficult time together.