Banks, CORONAVIRUS, state parks

Some state parks opening to day use after 6-week closure

The Banks-Vernonia State Trail. Photo: Chas Hundley

Coronavirus resources: CDC on the coronavirusOregon Health Authority resourcesWashington County resourcesOregonian reporting on the coronavirusOPB glossary of coronavirus termsNYTimes free reporting on the coronavirus

OREGON – A select list of state parks will return to limited day use service on Wednesday after closing by order of Governor Kate Brown on March 23, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department said in a statement released Tuesday, May 5.

In a separate press release, the office of Governor Kate Brown said that the order was effective Tuesday, May 5, while the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department said the parks would open Wednesday, May 6. 

“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.”

Not on the list of parks opening was the Banks-Vernonia State Trail and Stub Stewart State Park, both of which will remain closed for now. 

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“More state parks will offer limited access starting next week, but we don’t have a list of those parks yet,” said Oregon Parks and recreation Department spokesperson Chris Havel in an email to the Banks Post when asked about those two sites. 

As other parks begin slowly opening to day use the week of May 11, OPRD said that each site’s opening would be determined by the readiness of the community around it, and the preparedness of staff and their supplies and equipment. 

Even those that do open will have limited facilities available, the agency said in a press release, noting that bathrooms and parking could be limited. 

The agency also asked visitors to abide by a series of recommendations, including the following: 

• Staying home if you’re sick.

• If visiting, staying local and close to home, meaning less than 50 miles in urban areas.

• Only visiting with members of their household.

• Bringing all supplies—food, water, hand cleanser—needed for a short trip

• Leaving the park and coming back another time if it appears crowded 

• Wear a face covering. Homemade is fine.

• Stay at least six feet away from people who aren’t from your household. More is better.

• Cover your cough with a tissue (then throw it away), or the inside of your elbow.

• Leave no trace: pack out everything you bring with you.

• Stick to low-risk activities to reduce stress on local emergency response and health care systems.

• Keep your visit short. Restrooms and other buildings may be closed.

• Watch for signs at the park for more information.

A full list of park openings can be found at

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Chas Hundley is the editor of the Banks Post and sister news publications the Gales Creek Journal and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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