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April 10, 2020

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Andrew Barth, 303-441-1032

Letter to the Boulder County community about outdoor activities during COVID-19

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Letter to the Boulder County community about outdoor activities during COVID-19

We understand these are stressful times and getting outdoors for exercise and fresh air in this seasonal spring weather is a great aid to helping us all get through these trying times. Research over the years has shown that when people are stressed, anxious, and socially isolated, as we are right now due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, having access to parks, trails, and natural areas becomes even more important.

However, as more and more community members get outside, we’re seeing some concerning activities and potentially dangerous behaviors. We have every hope of keeping access to open space and trails throughout Boulder County available for everyone. We’re asking you all to follow our recommendations to contribute to the greater good of our community and to allow park rangers, sheriff’s deputies, and other law enforcement staff to do their jobs safely and in the best interest of the public.

By taking just a few conscientious steps when leaving your homes to get some fresh air and exercise, you can help reduce the strain on our public places and avoid putting people and employees at greater risk of contracting the coronavirus:

  • First and foremost, do not leave your home unless you absolutely need to. This is especially important if you are sick. Until Colorado lifts its stay-at-home order, we need everyone to practice social distancing and reduce the spread of COVID-19.
  • Recreate only with people from your household.
  • Stay as close to home as possible to recreate. Try something in your own backyard, take a walk or bike ride around your block, or visit a neighborhood park (just leave any playground equipment untouched). When visiting open space, find the trails closest to your home. The Boulder Area Trails App (trailsapp.org) is a great tool to find a trail nearby.
  • Avoid crowds. Trailheads tend to be less busy early in the morning or late in the day.
  • If you arrive at a crowded trailhead, think twice before getting out of the car—perhaps another option is better. Park only in designated spots or legally on the road shoulder.
  • Wear a cloth face covering AND stay 6 feet away from others who are not recreating with you. New research suggests up to one in four people with COVID-19 may not have symptoms and can spread the disease to others. Face coverings offer minimal protection for the wearer, but they make a big difference in helping to protect others if a person is infected and doesn’t know it.
  • Don’t take risks, including unnecessary driving. First responders rush to every emergency call, and, on a rescue, physical distancing is not possible. Responders need to get fewer than 6 feet from injured individuals, and from each other. Asymptomatic people, both individuals and rescuers, can spread COVID-19 before they are aware of symptoms. If either the individual or a rescuer later becomes symptomatic or tests positive, that entire group of rescuers will have to self-isolate for at least 14 days. This leads to fewer and fewer rescue personnel available to respond to emergencies quickly.
  • Follow all rules and regulations that apply to the specific park or trail you are visiting. This includes packing out your trash (i.e., not leaving it at the trailhead or on the trail), picking up after your dog, and keeping dogs leashed and under control at all times. Reports of dog bites and dog-on-dog aggression have risen since the stay-at-home order was put in place.
  • Finally, be kind to others. Remember, we’re all in this together and tensions are high. Keep your distance, be courteous, and perhaps send a wave to your neighbors when you pass them on the sidewalk or trail. You never know how much they may need it.

Joe Pelle, Boulder County Sheriff

Jeff Zayach, Executive Director, Boulder County Public Health

Jeff Maxwell, Director, Boulder County Public Works

Eric Lane, Director, Boulder County Parks & Open Space