State parks, recreational areas remain open to public

NILES — With the order to stay at home issued by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer now in place, the Department of Natural Resources wants state residents to know that they can still get out for some fresh air and exercise.

When executive order 2020-21 went into effect at midnight Monday, the DNR was forced to close all state park campgrounds, overnight lodging facilities and shelters until at least April 13.

However, state parks and recreational areas remain open to the public to allow them to get outside and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine of spring. Visitors to those areas will still have to adhere to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention and state of Michigan guidelines for social distancing.

State and federal officials continue to monitor the situation, and changes may still be coming to the “stay home, stay safe” order. However, DNR officials stress that state residents need to consider their physical and mental health as well, of which both can benefit by spending time outside.

“Gov. Whitmer’s executive order requires people to follow the CDC guidelines and stay at least six feet away from other people when outside of their own households, to the greatest extent possible,” said Dan Eichinger, DNR director. “We want residents to use and enjoy our public outdoor spaces, but we ask them to do so responsibly and safely, whether in a forest, on a trail or in a parking lot. If it becomes evident that people are not practicing effective social distancing while visiting these state-managed resources, we will close them to protect the health of our visitors and our staff.”

Hiking and bike trails remain open as well.

The DNR offers the following tips to help Michigan residents stay safe:

• Go out only if you’re feeling healthy.

• Wash hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If those aren’t available, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol.

• Minimize UV sun exposure by properly applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 15 or higher.

• When driving, keep windows slightly open to provide airflow.

Information can rapidly change, so residents are asked to check the latest information at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.