State parks remain open amid states of emergency and closures throughout New York. The state is also waiving all fees in state, local and county parks.
All year-round state parks, trails, and grounds of historic sites are open for outdoor recreation, according the state’s website.
But public programs and events have been suspended indefinitely and indoor facilities, such as nature centers, visitor centers and historic houses will be closed to encourage social distancing.
This includes Hudson River Islands State Park in Coxsackie, Lake Taghkanic State Park in Ancram, and Taconic State Park’s Copake Falls area in Copake Falls, Clermont State Historic Site in Germantown, Olana State Historic Site in Greenport and Thomas Cole State Historic Site in Catskill.
“Visitors should remember they are in a public park,” a Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation memo said. “While we are making increased efforts toward sanitation, each surface is only as clean as the last person who touched it.”
Officials at the Cole site issued the following statement on their website:
“The staff and board of the Thomas Cole Historic Site have been watching the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic with deep concern, and we are writing to let you know about steps we are taking in response. In order to help ensure the safety of our visitors, supporters, board, staff, volunteers and partners, we will postpone our upcoming events: the Fellows’ Presentations on March 27, our Scholars’ Dinner on April 6, the Sunday Salon on April 19, and tours of the Historic Site during the month of April. In addition, we have enabled our staff to work from home and upcoming meetings will be conducted via phone or video conference.
“We would like to note that we have arrived at this decision not due to any specific incidence of infection within our known community; rather, we are acting out of consideration of the health of the community and the ripple effect our actions could have.
The grounds of the Cole site will remain open, officials said.
“Visitors are welcome to visit our grounds. We encourage all visitors to observe a safe distance from others when visiting and to adhere to other practices that prevent the spread of the contagion.”
The Centers for Disease Control and the state Department of Health recommend the following steps for protecting one’s own health and that of others: Try to keep a distance of at least six feet from others; avoid close contact, such as shaking hands, hugging and kissing; wash hands often or use a hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available; and avoid surfaces that are touched often, such as doorknobs, handrails and playground equipment.
Visitors to parks.ny.gov can find a Hudson River Birding Trail Bird Checklist, which is recommended at Olana and Clermont state historic sites.
The 250-acre Olana State Historic Site, designed by artist Frederic Edwin Church, includes walking trails overlooking the Hudson River.
Lake Taghkanic State Park has eight miles of trails suitable for hiking or mountain biking. Visitors are reminded to carry out what they carry in, including trash.
In or around Taconic State Park, hikers can discover Bash Bish Falls, the Harlem Valley Rail Trail and a portion of the Appalachian Trail.
The Columbia Land Conservancy has 10 Public Conservation areas, including High Falls in Philmont and the Greenport Conservation Area, which remain open to public use.
Starting next week, the CLC will have virtual activities and recommendations for getting outdoors on their website clctrust.org.
At a press conference Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said people should stay home except for necessary functions, but can go outside for solitary exercise.
The town of Greenport has closed facilities at Greenport Town Park, such as restrooms, along with its town offices, departments and community center, to the public. Town Supervisor Kathleen Eldridge, who declared a state of emergency March 17, reminded residents they can still conduct business with town departments over the phone.
“The town of Greenport government and all employees are striving to maintain normalcy as allowed,” Eldridge said Friday. “Our concerns are directed at the health and safety of our community and others.”
Eldridge urged residents to take all directives seriously. She said department heads met earlier this week to proactively establish weekly teams to maintain infrastructure and community integrity.
“The town of Greenport wants to assist the residents in need and attempt to direct them to the proper agency,” Eldridge said. “We are grateful to live in a community that looks out for and cares for each other.”
While Hudson city parks remain open to the public, all Hudson City School District outdoor facilities are closed, including the track, playground and athletic facilities.
“Taking care of yourself, your friends, and your family can help you cope with stress,” according to the CDC’s Coronavirus Manage Anxiety and Stress website. “Helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger.”
The CDC recommends taking breaks from exposure to information related to COVID-19, doing enjoyable activities, andconnecting with others, as well as taking care of one’s body. This includes regular exercise, eating healthy and getting plenty of sleep.
People feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression or anxiety, or are thinking about personal harm due to COVID-19, can call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746.
Abby Hoover is a reporter for Columbia-Greene Media. Contact her at email@example.com.