03-25-2020 Volunteer work in National Parks during the Pandemic

Spooky Beaver Update:  It’s official.  The Department of the Interior has suspended volunteer trail work in National Parks due to the COVID-19 national state of emergency.  PATC has elected to apply that ban in general to all PATC owned or PATC maintained properties and trails.  See below for more detailed info.  As always, go to patc.net for the latest info. 


PWFP just announced while the park remains open to hikers and bikers, roads and parking lots are closed to vehicles.  See attached for other restrictions and precautions to take if visiting the park.    

My personal recommendation is to not gather in areas where you might congregate with others, which includes hiking in PWFP or elsewhere.  This is consistent with the CDC guidance to limit your trips outside your home to only essential places (health care, groceries, etc.).  It is also consistent with the recent Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s and the Pacific Coast Trail Association’s recommendations to all hikers to not hike on their long-distance trails.

That being said, again, it’s a personal recommendation.

I will keep you informed as the situation and policies evolve.

Drop me a note if you have any questions.

Mark Ellis
PATC District Manager
Prince William Forest Park

From: John Stacy <john.e.stacy@gmail.com>
Sent: Wednesday, March 25, 2020 10:14 AM
To: John Stacy <john.e.stacy@gmail.com>
Subject: Fwd: Fw: Volunteer work in National Parks during the Pandemic

Hello PATC Trails Community – 

Please see below for the latest PATC direction regarding trail work on Department of Interior lands.  As written, this directly applies to the 500+/- miles of trails for which our land managers are NPS units – the National Parks, Battlefields, and the Appalachian Trail.  However, additional discussions have led to the overall policy to suspend all of our trail work across the 1150 trail miles for which we are responsible.  This is for the safety of our volunteers, their families, and those we might see on the trails, in parking lots, and in travel to work sites.  Suspending all our trail work is highly consistent with the governmental direction to do only essential work and travel and otherwise stay at home.  Please advise your maintainers of this policy and the following links for updates.

You can always get the latest information here:  https://www.patc.net/ and at the detailed guidance links for PATC and various authorities. 

You, our District Managers, are experts in conditions in your area.  There might be cases that you would like to discuss with respect to this policy.  If so, please contact me.

Thank you.  Please take all precautions to be safe.  I look forward to seeing you again on the trails when conditions improve.

John Stacy

From: J Lombardo <jlombardo@patc.net>
Sent: Tuesday, March 24, 2020 7:26 PM
To: Council Votes <councilvotes@patc.net>
Subject: Volunteer work in National Parks during the Pandemic

Dear Council Members:

Late this afternoon we were notified that the Secretary of the Interior issued an order that effectively requires all PATC volunteers to cease immediately any work in the national parks. 

Please advise others who need this information and are not on the Council email distribution. We’ll be revising our policies on our website to reflect this latest development. 

We appreciate your support in complying with these directives during this difficult time. 

Please stay safe. 

Joseph F. Lombardo Jr.
President, Potomac Appalachian Trail Club

Dear partners and colleagues,

I’m writing to let you know that Prince William Forest Park is modifying its regular operations. The change is to implement the latest guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and local and state authorities to promote social distancing.  Effective immediately, all park roads and parking lots will be closed to vehicles until further notice. The park will also close all of its public restrooms and Oak Ridge Campground.  The park’s roads and trails will remain open to hikers and bicyclists. 
The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners is my number one priority. The National Park Service (NPS) is working with federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation in our area. Prince William Forest Park had already closed some facilities, including the park visitor center, the Turkey Run Ridge Group Campground, and Cabin Camp 5 to reduce risks of coronavirus transmission in those locations.  Those facilities will remain closed.  

We continue to urge visitors to do their part to stop the spread of COVID-19 by following the latest public health guidance from the CDC, the Virginia Department of Health, and local public health advisories.  This means we encourage visitors to: 

  • maintain a safe distance between yourself and other groups, even on trails
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth 
  • cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze 
  • stay home if you feel sick.   

Vulnerable populations, such as the elderly and people with underlying health conditions, should use extra caution and follow CDC guidance for those at higher risk of serious illness.    
The park’s usual operating hours will not change; hikers and bicyclists can visit Prince William Forest Park from 30 minutes before dawn until 30 minutes after dusk.  Entrance fees to Prince William Forest Park are suspended until further notice.  Federal regulations and park rules remain in effect.  
For the latest information about Prince William Forest Park, please visit our website at www.nps.gov/prwi, our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/prwinps or call the visitor center at 703-221-7181.  For additional information about the NPS national response to the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, visit www.nps.gov/coronavirus

Tanya M. Gossett
Prince William Forest Park
National Park Service

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