Colorado Springs, El Paso County, emphasizes the necessity for applicable public conduct in parks, trails, and open areas

On Monday, KRDO NewsChannel 13 showed you how the first day of Colorado’s transition from the governor’s “Stay at Home” order to his “Safer at Home” order resulted in large crowds in some parks, trails and open spaces.

So many vehicles were illegally parked in Helen Hunt Falls and North Cheyenne Cañon Park in particular that police issued an unspecified number of quotes.

“It’s going to be very difficult and unsafe,” said Karen Paulus, Colorado Springs Parks director, Recreation and Cultural Services. “Especially if there is a search and rescue or a fire. If you need to create your own space, please find another space to recreate it.”

During the coronavirus pandemic – as local parks and related destinations have remained open – authorities have stressed the importance of spreading, maintaining social distance, visiting new or different areas, and walking at different times.

However, Monday’s results have shown authorities that in many cases, public willingness to return to normal lifestyles may jeopardize the ability to keep targets open to limit the spread of the virus.

“We know other states have closed their parks,” said Susan Davies, executive director of the Trails and Open Space Coalition. “We want to avoid that because we need them. They reduce depression and anxiety. We go outdoors more than anyone in the country. But we have to do it safely. We owe it to each other.”

Authorities also discussed the lack of masks on some of the crowded targets.

“If I’m in the middle of the forest and no one is around, will I be wearing a mask? Probably not,” Davies said. “But on a trail, if someone is around, I’ll hold up my mask because I’m protecting it. I don’t know if I’m a wearer.”

The Safer at Home order encourages the public to visit parks no more than 10 miles from home, keep a social distance of at least two meters, bring their own disinfectant materials and wear masks.

“We need our park users to be responsible,” said Palus. “Make sure you take care of not only yourself but others too.”

Tim Wolken, executive director of community services for El Paso County, said that people who visit county parks seem to be better at following Safer at Home recommendations.

“We’re seeing more people on trails and starting points,” he said. “And many of our parks are larger and in more remote areas, so they can safely handle larger numbers of visitors.”

Wolken said the county’s park toilets will reopen next week, along with nature centers.

“We have a limit of 10 people for these centers,” he said.

Public playgrounds, pavilions, visitor centers, and community centers will remain closed in the area. Team sports events are prohibited with the exception of small family groups.

Golf courses are open, and authorities recommend Pikes Peak visitors to stay in their vehicles and maintain social distance.

The forest service said campsites with toilets, offices and other facilities are closed, but campsites that only offer a tent site and a campfire site are open.

Visit the city, county, forest service, and TOSC websites for more information on the latest regulations regarding the virus.

On Wednesday, the Broomfield family of Houston, Texas, visited Helen Hunt Falls while wearing their masks – an example authorities hope many others will follow.

“I would hope everyone gets on board and starts doing the things they’re supposed to do,” said husband and father Troy Broomfield. “So that we can enjoy this nature, we come here to vacation and see.”

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