Governor Brown Tuesday signaled a gradual return to outdoor recreation with the limited opening of some state parks, outdoor recreation facilities and areas across Oregon for day use. This step to the outdoors is a good sign and a step in the right direction. But we will be taking small and measured steps for our eventual reopening and operating plan at Mt. Hood Meadows.
Our CEO Matthew Drake has stated clearly, “We will re-open to the public only when we can ensure a high degree of confidence for the health and safety of our Team and guests. We will employ a combination of re-engineered operations to achieve appropriate social distancing using face masks, regular and thorough hand washing, frequent cleaning and sanitation of all public areas and surfaces.” We’ve created an operational readiness task force that is meeting regularly to formulate plans and address different scenarios caused by the virus and society’s efforts to contain it. The focus is on next winter and we do not expect to run lifts this season.
Not only are we waiting for the specifics from the Governor’s office regarding ski area operations, the Mt. Hood National Forest has temporarily closed developed recreation sites, including access to the forest through our permit area. We anticipate allowing uphill travel once the closures have been lifted and we will clearly state the guidelines for responsible uphill travel on our site.
It is essential that those in pursuit of outdoor recreation abide by the guidelines imposed by the state, USFS, permit holder or operator. This will be a measured and thoughtful approach to re-opening recreation on the forest and working with local communities to make sure they are ready for an influx of visitors. We also expect the forest service will be monitoring and changing access to outdoor recreation as necessary. For instance, if there is an uptick in cases of COVID-19 after starting to reopen, there may be a pull back.
Governor Brown emphasized this in her announcement which reads, “As this limited reopening occurs, it is essential that Oregonians recreate responsibly to protect the health, wellness, and safety of themselves and others in local communities.”
“Enjoying Oregon’s beauty and bounty is one of our state's time-honored traditions,” said Governor Brown. “As we begin to slowly open up recreation sites, state parks, and ski areas opportunities, it is critical we ensure the health and safety of staff, volunteers, and the public. And that begins with each of us taking personal responsibility to be good stewards of our parks, and each other.”
Guidelines for responsible outdoor recreation include:
Prepare before you go:
• Limit your recreation activities, and recreate only with people in your own household.
• Check what’s open before leaving home. Your favorite trail or camp site may remain closed, or need to be closed on a temporary basis, to prevent crowding and protect public health.
• Plan ahead and come prepared as service levels may be different than you are accustomed to.
• Visitors may find limited restroom services available. Plan to bring your own soap, water, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper.
• Bring a mask to cover your nose and mouth. Visit less crowded areas, visit during off-peak times, and have a back-up plan.
• Not feeling well? Don’t go. If you have symptoms of a fever, cough, or shortness of breath, stay home.
Take care when you get there:
• Be safe and responsible by choosing activities within your comfort zone.
• Leave no trace, and pack out what you pack in.
• Maintain your own personal hygiene like washing your hands often, bringing your own water, hand sanitizer, soap, and toilet paper.
• Avoid crowds. Be prepared for last minute changes to ensure the safety and health of others.
• All of the standard ways to protect public health apply in the outdoors too, like maintaining physical distance.
• Keep at least 6 feet between you and other Oregonians enjoying the outdoors. Launch one boat at time to ensure other Oregonians have enough space to launch safely and securely.
• Leave at least one parking space between your vehicle and the vehicle next to you.
• It is wildfire season. Please remain safe and vigilant to ensure forest health and safety. Do not start fires in undesignated areas. Check if your campground or park allows outdoor fires before you strike a match. If permitted, make sure you are building a campfire properly and that you have water or an extinguisher on hand. Before you leave, ensure the campfire is out. If it's too hot to touch, it's too hot to leave.