More than 70 percent of Mesa County’s 3,300 square miles is public land. There’s plenty of room to recreate while doing your part to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Today representatives from Mesa County Public Health (MCPH), Colorado National Monument, Bureau of Land Management, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and Mesa County Sheriff’s Office spoke about the COVID-19 impacts on public lands in Mesa County. View the full press conference here.
While people are encouraged to Stay at Home, the mental and physical health benefits of recreating outdoors are widely recognized when practiced responsibly.
“Just because you are outside doesn’t mean social distancing doesn’t apply, there is still a risk to both contract and spread COVID-19 when you are outdoors. We’re asking everyone to take a few extra minutes, give each other some space and follow public health recommendations,” Mesa County Public Health Executive Director, Jeff Kuhr said.
Recreational areas and trailheads are experiencing a large influx of users in concentrated areas. Public Land officials in Mesa County report while many visitors are recreating responsibly, many are not.
“We want to remind people that we have vast recreational opportunities to be able to get outside and spread out, remember to take care of your public lands and practice Leave No Trace principles while recreating,” stated Acting BLM Grand Junction Field Manager Wayne Werkmeister.
“Everyone can help us by recreating in less-used areas, bypassing full parking lots, and familiarizing yourself with monument regulations,” said Colorado National Monument Superintendent Nathan Souder. “We want to keep Colorado National Monument open, and we need everyone to work together.”
In partnership with MCPH, signs will be posted at trailheads, parking lots, and popular recreation areas to remind the public to “Do Your Part” to help keep our public lands open.
How you can do your part
- Keep a distance of 6 feet from those who are not in your household
- Don’t overcrowd parking lots and trailheads
- Stay home if you are sick
- Pick up your trash, leave no trace
- Bring your own hand sanitizer (when you’re back at home wash with soap and water)
- Stay on the trail and follow public land guidelines
- If a trail is too crowded to allow for social distancing, choose a different trail
“While it has been wonderful to see our local community spending so much time participating in outdoor recreation during this pandemic, it is also important to encourage all of us to be stewards of our public lands and community health. We need to protect not only the trails that we use but also the most vulnerable in our community,” said Sarah Shrader, President of Outdoor Recreation Coalition of the Grand Valley. “The outdoor recreation economy is the engine that drives our community, and our businesses and health rely on us to rise to the occasion and follow these simple guidelines.”
Let’s all do our part to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and help protect the most vulnerable in our community by respecting one another, our public lands, and public health guidelines.