DEEP Closing Record Summer Season, Preps for Fall
Visiting Public Reminded to Practice Prevention and #RecreateResponsibly
(HARTFORD, CT) – Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is expecting large crowds this holiday weekend to close-out the summer outdoor recreation season, which has been one for the record books including 519 park closures due to capacity, compared to just 161 last year. Visitors are reminded to plan ahead, practice appropriate social behavior consistent with COVID-19 precautions, and to #RecreateResponsibly.
“The DEEP staff’s tireless commitment and adaptability has enabled us to keep our valuable parks open in a safe, responsible fashion throughout the complexities of the COVID-19 emergency and enabled historic levels of usage for significant personal and public benefit,” said Mason Trumble, Deputy Commissioner for Environmental Conservation. “We are only able to provide these services through positive partnership with our visitors and we encourage the public’s continued cooperation by practicing appropriate social distance and mask-wearing practices, planning and flexibility, and responsible, courteous behavior.”
Those planning to visit state recreation areas this weekend are reminded of the following:
Plan ahead: As has been the case throughout the pandemic, State Parks are operating at reduced capacity. Real-time updates on closures are posted on the state parks Twitter feed, @CTStateParks and at https://portal.ct.gov/whatsopenoutdoors. Have a back-up plan ready in case a park is closed upon your arrival. Go here for other outdoor recreation ideas in case your first choice is closed: https://www.ctvisit.com/articles/favorite-park-closed-here-are-others-try.
Practice social distancing and wear face coverings: The wearing of masks and face coverings remains an essential practice to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including while outdoors and at the beach. Visitors to state beaches shall maintain 15-ft between blankets and 6-ft from other visitors not in their household. Masks shall be worn anytime except when in the water or seated on your blanket and 6-ft from others not in your household. CDC guidance on safe outdoor recreation habits can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/visitors.html.
Reduced lifeguard presence: As many DEEP lifeguards have returned to school, visitors should expect reduced or no lifeguard coverage at shoreline state parks that feature beaches. Swimmers are asked to take extra precautions to ensure a safe experience. Parents are cautioned to watch their children closely (it only takes seconds for a child to drown, if you are more than an arm’s length away, you’re too far!), be aware of strong currents and underwater hazards in natural swimming areas such as sudden drop-offs, holes, large rocks, and tree roots. Beachgoers are also advised to drink responsibly-excessive alcohol consumption impairs judgment and reaction ability. Even prescription drugs may impair judgment. For more safe swimming tips, go here: https://portal.ct.gov/DEEP/State-Parks/Recreation-Information/Swimming---CT-State-Parks-and-Forests.
Boat safe: DEEP reminds boaters planning to get on the water this holiday weekend to do so responsibly. Operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal on all bodies of water and can lead to serious injuries and consequences. DEEP reminds boaters to boat sober and always wear a life jacket when on the water. Real-time updates on boat launch capacity closures are posted on the boating Twitter feed, @CTBoatingInfo.
Non-resident parking fees re-instituted: DEEP recently re-instituted a parking fee collection process for non-resident visitors at 22 State Park locations. DEEP has not collected these fees this season, except at three of the four shoreline state beaches, due to COVID-19 prevention measures and staffing limitations. The new system requires visitors arriving in vehicles registered outside of Connecticut to purchase a parking pass online or by phone when they arrive at the park. Signage at each park location will provide instructions on how to make their payment and complete the form to be placed on their vehicle’s dashboard to confirm fee payment. For more information on fees and the park locations where fees will be collected, go here. Anyone in a Connecticut-registered vehicle can park free of charge at all CT State Parks and Forests year-round through the Passport to the Parks program.
Alcohol bans: DEEP recently expanded and extended a temporary alcohol ban for Beach Pond State Boat Launch in Voluntown. The alcohol ban, originally implemented July 10, now includes an extended portion of the Beach Pond shoreline as well as parts of Pachaug State forest directly adjacent to the Beach Pond State Boat Launch. For a list of all state parks with alcohol bans, go here: https://portal.ct.gov/DEEP/State-Parks/Parks-Areas-With-Alcohol-Ban.
Candlewood Lake boat launches: The Lattins Cove State Boat Launch remains closed, and parking capacity at Squantz Cove State Boat Launch continues to be limited to 50%. DEEP staff and Environmental Conservation officers continue to conduct increased outreach and monitoring to deter and identify gatherings on the water and at state boat launches. For more information on these restrictions, go here.
Leave no trace: DEEP reminds visitors to state parks and forests to ensure that any trash they create while visiting a state recreation area either ends up in a receptacle or is taken out with them. We all share these beautiful resources, and it is up to each and every one of us to keep them clean and healthy.
Heading into the fall, DEEP encourages visitors to state lands, whether they be “leaf peepers” seeking out Connecticut’s terrific fall foliage, or hunters seeking game, to continue to practice safe behaviors and to continue to #RecreateResponsibly.