Gorges To Open Wednesday, But DuPont Remains Closed-Brevard NC
Last updated 5/13/2020 at 7:01am
Gorges State Park will reopen Wednesday after 28 other state parks re-opened partially Saturday. DuPont State Recreational Forest, however, remains closed.
Increased access occurred after guidance from the Governor's office and the Department of Health and Human Services, according to a press release. The Division of Parks and Recreation is working with state and local public health authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and use a phased, collaborative approach to increase access to North Carolina State Parks in a systematic manner.
The state parks reopened most roads, trails, restrooms and some boat ramps. Some access areas may be closed, so visitors should check park webpages for details.
Campgrounds, picnic shelters, swim areas, playgrounds, visitor centers and other common gathering areas will remain closed during this phase.
DuPont State Recreational Forest and Holmes Educational State Forest did not reopen this weekend.
"Like many agencies across the state, the N.C. Forest Service (NCFS) is preparing to begin a phased reopening for DuPont State Recreational Forest that is in accordance with Executive Order 138," said Christie Adams, the N.C. Forest Service's public information officer. "NCFS officials are taking necessary precautions and action to reopen DuPont to the public soon. The extent of access to be provided and a timeline for reopening are still being determined to ensure a safe and smooth process for staff, visitors and volunteers."
Park superintendents have examined each facility function and service provided to ensure those operations comply with public health guidance, the release said. Cleaning procedures effective for COVID-19 disinfection are established and staff are trained to disinfect restrooms and high-touch areas. Park staff have Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to reduce the spread risk of COVID-19 as they interact with the public and clean restrooms and other areas.
"The importance of our parks and trails to North Carolinians has become quite apparent during this pandemic," said State Parks Director Dwayne Patterson. "While we look forward to welcoming visitors back to the parks that have been closed, we are approaching this phased reopening with safety in mind. As we balance the high visitation we expect with our responsibility to protect park staff and natural resources, we ask that everyone be respectful of park staff, other visitors, and the parks' natural areas."
A return to full operations will occur in phases. The current plan calls for reopening campgrounds in the second phase, and the third and final phase will include opening common areas and resuming educational activities and other programming. To ensure health and safety, park visitors should follow the "Three Ws" as outlined by the N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services – wear a mask or cloth face covering; wait in line at least 6 feet away from others and wash hands frequently. Visitors should also follow local health orders, maintain social distancing, bring hand sanitizer and reusable water bottles, avoid high-risk activities that could lead to calling first responders who are needed elsewhere during the pandemic, and practice Leave No Trace principles.