With Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at home order and the critical need to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, California State Parks announced Friday additional temporary full closures of parks. In Los Angeles County, the popular Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve State Natural Reserve (SNR) was closed as of sunset Friday.
In San Diego County, Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve and the following state beaches are closed until further notice: Cardiff, Carlsbad, San Elijo, Silver Strand, South Carlsbad and Torrey Pines A list of the closures can be found online at parks.ca.gov/FlattenTheCurve. The list is dynamic and is updated as needed.
To date, State Parks has temporarily closed some parks fully, meaning all vehicular access, trails and restrooms within these parks are closed. It also has closed vehicular access at all parks, including for off-highway vehicles and recreational boats; closed all campgrounds, museums and visitor centers; and cancelled all events. Some parks with vehicular closures remain open for locals provided they practice safe, physical distancing of 6 feet or more and are visiting parks near their primary residences.
Many state parks continue to experience visitation surges that make it impossible for the public to implement safe, physical distancing. The State of California understands the public’s need to connect with the outdoors, but activities requiring travel by vehicle to destination parks or beaches are not appropriate at this time.
The public is reminded to adhere to the following guidance:
– Stay home if you are sick.
– Stay close to home when you get outdoors. This is not the time for a road trip to a destination park or beach.
– Venture out only with people in your immediate household.
– Walk around the neighborhood and enjoy neighborhood parks.
– Always maintain a physical distance of 6 feet or more when recreating in the outdoors. If you cannot maintain physical distancing, leave the park.
– Do not congregate in parks.
State Parks will continue to monitor visitation and physical distancing at all state park units and if the safety measures implemented thus far are not sufficient to protect public health, additional measures may be taken to fully close more state parks. All Californians have the responsibility to “Flatten the COVID-19 Curve at Parks.”
Virtual visits and distance learning
Instead of taking road trips to state parks during the stay at home order, State Parks invites the public to explore the nation’s largest State Park System virtually. Many state parks are offering live feeds across their social media platforms, and state parks can also be explored online via Google Street View Treks. For those wishing to view the poppy blooms and other wildflowers in bloom right now at Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve SNR, they can view them via a Poppy Cam, which livestreams the current bloom conditions. The park is also showcasing the blooms via 360-degree views and upcoming live feeds on the park’s Facebook platform.
Additionally, the award-winning Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students (PORTS) Distance Learning Program is offering free home learning programs for families. Programs are now available between 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. PDT, Monday through Friday. Each hour focuses on a specific range of grade levels where interpreters will read books and tell stories about their parks, tour iconic museums including Hearst Castle and explore majestic redwood forests and marine protected areas.
Families can register for the home learning programs by visiting the new PORTS website www.ports-ca.us. Currently, space is limited to 500 families per program, but thanks to an established partnership with Zoom Video Communications, PORTS will be increasing the spaces available for these webinars in the coming weeks to meet the growing demand.
In addition to the free home learning program, the new PORTS website also offers 360-degree virtual tours of various state parks, online teaching tools and links to popular State Parks YouTube channels and previous broadcasts. The website is updated frequently with new material and will continue to evolve as State Parks creates online content for families and teachers.
As California continues to issue guidance on preparing and protecting Californians from COVID-19, State Parks is monitoring the situation closely and is following guidance provided by the Governor’s Office via the California Department of Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.
The department is also working closely with local county and public health officials, and assessing park operations on a daily basis to provide access to healthy outdoor options while emphasizing the need for safe, physical distancing. State Parks understands that local agencies each have unique operational considerations and strategies. As such, the department is partnering with locals to align park operations and help the public understand and comply with directives from local public health authorities.
Visit State Parks at www.parks.ca.gov/newsroom for the most up-to-date information on how the department is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
California State Parks provides for the health, inspiration and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state’s extraordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high quality outdoor recreation.