Some Maine state park beaches open Monday, with restrictions

AUGUSTA — On Monday, 10 beach state parks will open, with restrictions, the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Bureau of Parks and Lands announced.
Maine residents and non-residents who have completed the 14-day quarantine, are invited to return to the following state parks:
Crescent Beach State Park, Cape Elizabeth;
Kettle Cove State Park, Came Elizabeth;
Two Lights State Park, Cape Elzabeth;
Ferry Beach State Park, Scarborough;
Scarborough Beach State Park, Scarborough;
Mackworth Island, Falmouth;
Reid State Park, Georgetown;
Popham Beach State Park, Phippsburg;
Fort Popham, Phippsburg;
Fort Baldwin, Phippsburgh.
The 10 coastal State Parks were initially closed March 26 because of overcrowding, and the closure extended to Monday June 1, following Gov. Janet Mill’s plan to gradually and safely restart Maine’s economy. The June 1 date coincides with Stage 2 of the Restarting Maine’s Economy plan. The opening comes after careful consideration and planning to ensure everyone’s safety, including visitors and staff.

The bureau is coordinating its phased reopening with local law enforcement, first responders and state public safety officials. The beaches will be open from 9 a.m. to sunset. To support safe physical distancing, beach capacity is limited by 50 percent until further notice. Visitors can expect restroom facility delays and closures, as well as closures and limited access to water fountains, rinse showers, playgrounds, nature centers, fort buildings, museums and historic buildings.

“I am calling on everyone visiting a beach state park to honor distancing guidelines to protect each other and our park staff,” said DACF Commissioner Amanda Beal. “We are closely monitoring conditions at the beaches and all of our State Parks and plan to make modifications as needed.”

To support Maine CDC’s efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, the bureauis asking the public to play their part. With working together in mind, here are a few reminders developed by DACF and Maine Inland Fish and Wildlife on how to get fresh air while staying safe.

AVOID CROWDS
Visit a lesser-known spot and explore places close to home. Consider visiting a nearby Wildlife Management Area, or less trafficked state park, public land, or local land trust.
Have a plan B (and C). If your first destination has a busy parking lot, go to the next spot on your list! Maine Trail Finder is a great resource.
Get outside earlier or later in the day to avoid peak times, and please keep your visits brief.
Recharge in your backyard and neighborhood. Backyard adventures in the time of coronavirus are an excellent idea.

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
If you are exhibiting symptoms related to COVID-19, or if you were recently to COVID-19, please stay home.
Stay at least six feet away from other people at all times.
At the beach state parks, limit your stay so that others may enjoy the beach as you have.
Plan your stay for less popular times – mornings or late afternoons.
Stick to easy trails to avoid injuries and further stress on health care resources.
Be sure to tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back.
Be prepared for limited access to public restrooms (use the bathroom before you leave home).
Bring disinfectant, hand sanitizer, and wear a mask or face covering.
Always leave no trace, including cleaning up after your pet, so be sure to bring a disposable bag to carry out any waste. (No pets are allowed on State park beaches between April 1 and September 30.)
And remember to take precautions to prevent exposure to ticks by wearing light-colored pants, closed-toe shoes, and applying EPA-approved bug repellent.
BPL is closely monitoring the coronavirus situation and following guidance provided by the Governor’s Office and the Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Maine Emergency Management Agency.

FAQs
Q: Is it going to be business as usual inside the partially open coastal state parks?
A: No. Visitors should arrive prepared with sanitizer and disinfectant, some seasonal restrooms and drinking fountains and other amenities will likely not be open or in service. Stay informed of all BPL updates at parksandlands.com.

Q: Can I park on the street or road outside of a state park and walk-in?
A: Everyone is required to respect parking signs on roads adjacent to state parks and to respect our neighbors.

Q: How might my visit to a Maine state park be different than usual?
A: Our state parks are seeing above-average use, and with increased numbers comes the need to be extra vigilant and follow precautions advised by the Maine CDC. The guidance includes frequent washing of hands for at least 20 seconds using soap and hot water, coughing and sneezing into tissues, and promptly disposing of the tissue, and avoiding touching eyes, nose, and mouth. It is also essential is to prevent gatherings of 10 or more people and to practice physical distancing of at least six feet, from person to person. For the latest Maine CDC guidance, visit their website and to track Maine’s reopening plan.

Q: What do curtailed services mean?
A: Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to sunset unless otherwise posted; playgrounds and some restrooms are closed to the public. Please note park access may change without notice.

PHOTO: Reid State Park (Maureen Milliken photo)