Article audio is made possible by CAST11 Prescott Podcast Network. A Talking Glass Media production.
The Prescott National Forest began an orderly closure of developed recreation sites on Monday, March 23, to protect public health and safety and to align with state and local measures already in place to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.
Although developed campgrounds, restrooms and other developed recreation facilities on the Prescott NF are closed, the vast majority of the forest will still be available to visitors who want to spend time outdoors. Parking at a number of day-use sites will remain available with reduced hours. No services will be provided and no fees will be collected. Currently, recreation opportunities include hiking and biking on trails, dispersed camping and other activities that support social distance and small groups.
The Prescott NF asks members of the public to recreate responsibly by avoiding high-risk activities, such as 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 closed by bringing home their trash (pack it in, pack it out), and by appropriately managing human waste by burying it at least 6-8 inches deep and 200 feet away from water, trails and recreation sites. Visit the Interactive Visitor Map: https://www.fs.fed.us/ivm/ for more information on available activities.
“We know how much our communities and our visitors value the recreational opportunities the national forests have to offer,” Prescott NF Supervisor Dale Dieter said. “This decision was not made lightly, but we believe people understand the serious risks posed by facilities that draw large numbers of people into close proximity with each other. We appreciate your patience and understanding of our efforts to mitigate those risks to protect public health and safety.”
The developed recreation site closures will remain in effect until June 1, 2020 and will be reevaluated as needed. The Forest Service thanks all visitors and partners for their cooperation. Please report any instances of vandalism to facilities to the local ranger district office.
All Prescott NF offices are conducting business and providing services virtually and 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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For tips from the CDC on preventing illnesses like the coronavirus, go to: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html.
Visitors of the Prescott National Forest can obtain additional information via the following:
• Prescott NF Forest Website: http://www.fs.usda.gov/prescott/
• Twitter: @PrescottNF
• Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PrescottNF/
• Forest Supervisors Office (928) 777-2200, Bradshaw Ranger District (928) 443-8000, Verde Ranger District (928) 567-4121