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News >  Spokane

State parks, WDFW close lands in fight against COVID-19

UPDATED: Tue., March 24, 2020

Bryan Rough teaches his daughter Myla, 9, the motions of skipping rocks Tuesday, March 17, 2020, at Riverside State Park's Bowl and Pitcher in Spokane. With school closed for Myla, and Bryan's employer placing him on "work remotely" status due to the spread of coronavirus, the pair took to the river to enjoy sunny weather. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Bryan Rough teaches his daughter Myla, 9, the motions of skipping rocks Tuesday, March 17, 2020, at Riverside State Park's Bowl and Pitcher in Spokane. With school closed for Myla, and Bryan's employer placing him on "work remotely" status due to the spread of coronavirus, the pair took to the river to enjoy sunny weather. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

All state owned and managed recreation lands will close Wednesday.

“The gates will be closed,” said Washington State Parks spokeswoman Anna Gill. “And all facilities will be locked.”

The closures are in response to Gov. Jay Inslee’s “stay home” order aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19.

Locally, that means Mount Spokane State Park and Riverside State Park are no longer accessible. The Centennial Trail, which is managed by state parks, is also technically closed.

“We’re really trying to encourage people to follow the governor’s directive,” Gill said. “But it’s not illegal to access public land.”

In his address Inslee said that going outside for a walk, a bike ride or to garden is OK, as long as people keep a safe “social distance” of 6 feet between anyone not living in the same residence.

However, the number of people flooding parks across the state has made those guidelines difficult, if not impossible, to follow, Gill said.

“Anecdotally we’re hearing from our parks that they are experiencing summer-level visitations,” she said.

In the same news release the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced closures of all wildlife areas and water access areas. A WDFW spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The closures will last for two weeks. If Inslee extends his “stay home” order, State Parks likely will too, Gill said.

Meanwhile, county-owned parks remain accessible as do city parks. Paul Knowles, the county park planner, emphasized that county and city parks are not technically open because it’s the off-season. Mainly that means bathrooms are closed.

“In reading the governor’s proclamation, we (Spokane County Parks and City of Spokane Parks) are planning to allow parks to remain ‘accessible’ to the public, meaning that parks and trails won’t be roped or fenced off for now (with the exception of play equipment, which was closed on order of the Health District last Friday),” he said in an email.

That could change, Knowles emphasized.

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