George Washington and Jefferson National Forests Temporarily Shutting Down All Day-use Areas

April 9, 2020

To protect public health and safety, and align with guidance from Virginia health officials and experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as to comply with Virginia and West Virginia statewide Stay at Home orders, George Washington and Jefferson National Forests officials are extending temporary shut downs to include additional day use areas such as picnic sites, interpretive sites, shooting ranges and swimming sites.

The new temporary shutdowns are in addition to previous shutdowns, which are:

  • All developed campgrounds and cabins
  • All public restrooms
  • All visitor centers
  • All trail shelters
  • South Pedlar ATV Trail System
  • Peters Mill Run/Taskers Gap Off-Highway Vehicle Trail System
  • Cascades Day Use Area
  • Crabtree Falls Day Use Area
  • Blacksburg Shooting Range
  • Wythe Shooting Range

National Forest roads and most trails remain open for public use.  Forest visitors can still enjoy hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, fishing, and many other activities that support social distancing and small groups. Trailhead facilities and access points to the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, including parking lots dedicated to the trail, remain temporarily shut down.  Forest visitors should comply with CDC and state orders on group size and social distance.

“We believe people understand the serious risks posed by facilities and trails that draw large numbers of people into close proximity to each other,” said Forests Supervisor Joby Timm. “We appreciate people’s patience and understanding of our efforts to mitigate those risks to protect public health and safety.”

For a list of specific facilities on the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests that are temporarily shut down, please visit: FS.USDA.gov/recmain/gwj/recreation.

The George Washington and Jefferson National Forests asks members of the public to recreate responsibly by avoiding gathering in groups of more than ten people and not engaging in high-risk activities, like rock climbing, that increase the chance of injury or distress. Law enforcement and search and rescue operations may be limited due to COVID-19. In addition, visitors can help mitigate resource impacts while recreation sites are shut down by bringing home their trash (“Pack it in, Pack it out”), and by appropriately managing human waste by burying it at least six to eight inches deep and 200 feet away from water, trails and recreation sites.

The George Washington and Jefferson National Forests officials will continue to coordinate its COVID-19 response in alignment with all federal, state and local guidance. Visitors to national forests are urged to take the precautions recommended by the CDC. For tips from the CDC on preventing illnesses like the coronavirus, go to: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html.

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Last modified: April 9, 2020

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