A barricade blocks the north entrance to Robin Hill Farm County Park west of Sequim on Saturday, May 2, 2020. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

A barricade blocks the north entrance to Robin Hill Farm County Park west of Sequim on Saturday, May 2, 2020. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Some Peninsula parks reopening for day use

National park areas to stay closed this week

State and county parks on the North Olympic Peninsula — along with two city parks in Sequim — will reopen for day use with some restrictions on Tuesday after they closed in March due to COVID-19 precautions.

Today, the city of Port Angeles’ Ediz Hook boat launch will re-open, Corey Delikat, Parks and Recreation director, said Friday.

Most city parks had never been closed although, as with county parks that remained open, most services were not provided.

Olympic National Park will not reopen any areas this week. Plans are being made to begin to reopen some park areas mid-to-late May, said Penny Wagner, park public information officer, who added that the Pacific Coast beaches and other areas on the west side of the park are likely to be among the last to be reopened.

Gov. Jay Inslee announced last week a partial reopening for outdoor activities beginning Tuesday. That includes some fishing, hunting, golfing and day use of state lands.

On Friday, Inslee extended his stay-home order through May 31.

City, county and state parks across the North Olympic Peninsula, including Miller Peninsula State Park — pictured in this file photo — closed in late March to help stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. Some parks are scheduled to reopen this week for day use only. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group file)

City, county and state parks across the North Olympic Peninsula, including Miller Peninsula State Park — pictured in this file photo — closed in late March to help stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. Some parks are scheduled to reopen this week for day use only. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group file)

Here is rundown of the park options on the Peninsula:

State parks

Washington State Parks reopening will apply to some state-managed parks, wildlife areas, recreation land and boat launches.

However, it may take several days for gates to be unlocked and sites to be serviced at remote areas due to limited staff capacity.

“Some parks may not open immediately because of impacts on rural communities and the potential for crowding,” park officials said in a statement. “State Parks is working with local communities and its partners to determine the best approach and timing to reopening these areas.”

State visitor centers, camping and other overnight accommodations on state-managed lands will remain closed until further notice, they said.

Fort Worden, Fort Flagler and Fort Townsend state parks will reopen to vehicles and for day use starting Tuesday. Because of lost revenue during the shutdown, parks have not been able to rehire all of their staff back, so it is unknown when smaller state parks in Jefferson County will reopen, said Ranger Brian Hagerman, parks manager.

Campgrounds, group facilities, shelters and staging areas will remain closed to the public until further notice, he said.

See parks.state.wa.us for more information.

Jefferson County

• The Fort Worden Public Development Authority will continue to be closed this month, said Dave Robison, executive director.

Staff members are working on a plan for reopening, tentatively scheduled for July.

• Jefferson County parks did not close to day use; however, the playgrounds, basketball and tennis courts, campgrounds (Oak Bay, Lake Leland and Quilcene), park restrooms, indoor recreation facilities and picnic shelters will remain closed until further notice, said Matthew Tyler, Jefferson County Parks and Recreations manager.

The Larry Scott Trail and other trails along the parks are open, he said.

Portable toilets have been provided at parks with locked restrooms.

• The city of Port Townsend did not close its parks. The Mountain View Pool, playgrounds, sport courts, picnic shelters, restrooms, dog parks, skate park, campgrounds and indoor facilities remain closed until further notice, City Manager John Mauro said.

City staff members are discussing when and how to reopen the rest of the facilities with county and state officials, but no specific plans had been made as of Friday.

Clallam County

• Clallam County will reopen all day-use-only parks as well as the day-use portions — not the campgrounds — at Dungeness Recreation Area near Sequim and Salt Creek Recreation Area near Port Angeles.

All day-use areas with restrooms (those with running water), along with campground restrooms will remain locked but will have portable toilets delivered for public use, said Joel Winborn, director of Clallam County Parks, Fair & Facilities.

Vault toilets located in day-use areas will be open for public use.

To encourage public safety, county park staff members will put together signage with guidelines about social/physical distancing based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, Winborn said.

Camp David Jr. on Lake Crescent is closed until further notice. It will open “likely very late into the summer, if it opens at all,” he said.

Clallam County Fairgrounds will remain closed until further notice, Winborn said.

Winborn said Inslee’s restrictions on large gatherings may put the annual Clallam County Fair in jeopardy.

Dr. Allison Unthank, Clallam County health officer, urged county parks to open in coordination with other parks during an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) briefing last week.

“I know any time we start to reopen things after we close them, it causes some anxiety,” she said. “The thing to know is I think it is very possible to do outdoor recreation well.”

For more about Clallam parks and updates on closures/re-openings, see www.clallam.net/parks.

A sign indicates the campground closure at Dungeness County Park northwest of Sequim on Saturday, May 2, 2020. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

A sign indicates the campground closure at Dungeness County Park northwest of Sequim on Saturday, May 2, 2020. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

• The Ediz Hook boat launch will be back in operation today, but nothing else will change, Delikat said in an email.

“Right now, we are not changing anything as far as our public policies for our parks” in Port Angeles, Delikat said.

“Basically, we have closed everything we can physically close and just told people to use open spaces and physical distancing.”

He referred residents to the city’s website at www.cityofpa.us for updates.

In Sequim, Carrie Blake Community Park — including the Water Reuse Demonstration Area, dog park, skate park, fishing pond and community gardens — will partially reopen Tuesday, as will Pioneer Memorial Park, said Jason Loihle, arts and parks manager.

The playground areas, horseshoe, bocce ball and shuffleboard areas at Carrie Blake Community Park will remain closed, and no city facilities will be available for rent.

Restrooms near the pickleball courts will be reopened, but restrooms at the Water Reuse Area will remain closed until further notice.

Kirner Park and Dr. Standard Park will remain closed until further notice.

Public gatherings are not allowed at the reopened parks, including events and team sports such as soccer, football, baseball, pickleball and basketball.

Sick people should not go to parks.

Social distancing — and masks when needed — are required, and recreation partners must be limited to only those who live in the same household.

“Any city park may be closed at any time if there is reason to believe unsafe conditions exist or social distancing practices are not being followed,” Loihle stated in a press release.

For more about city parks, contact Loihle at 360-582-2458 or jloihle@sequimwa.gov.

• Day-use-only Tillicum Park in Forks will remain open, City Attorney-Planner Rod Fleck said.

“They are working to keep it clean, going through and disinfecting everything, things like that,” he said Friday.

The city’s Calawah River boat launch off North Forks Avenue will remain closed.

The Makah and Quileute tribes have closed their reservations in Neah Bay and La Push to all who don’t live there.

National park

Olympic National Park officials are beginning to plan for a phased reopening of certain day-use facilities mid-to-late May.

“We can start with facilities that we know may not attract a great number of people from King County or other environs all on their own, and service more of the local folks who want to do their daily exercise or go for a day hike,” said Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum during a question-and-answer session last week during an EOC briefing.

Park officials are coordinating with health officials, tribes and communities about when and how areas will be reopened, Wagner said.

The first park areas to be reopened are likely to be on the north side of the park, Wagner said, such as the Lake Crescent area and the Elwha Valley, which remains closed to vehicles because of a washout near the Elwha Campground.

Additional measures will need to be taken before Sol Duc and Hurricane Ridge are reopened, Wagner said.

It is not now known when the final areas to be reopened will welcome visitors on the west side of the park, including the ocean beaches.

Park openings are predicated on having adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), adequate supplies to keep restrooms clean, and adequate enforcement to keep people from crowding around restrooms and other areas, Creachbaum said.

Unthank had previously said she would recommend the federal government reopen Olympic, Mount Rainier and North Cascades national parks at the same time to prevent an influx of tourists from the Seattle area converging on one park.

Olympic National Park’s seasonal workforce likely will be reduced by about one-third this summer because of a federal requirement that one person reside in one room, Creachbaum said.

Visitor center employees, interpretive park rangers and others who work with crowds may not start working until May 24, Creachbaum said.

See www.nps.gov/olym for more about Olympic National Park.

Find the full list of state parks and properties that will reopen Tuesday here.

________

Micahel Dashiell, editor of the Sequim Gazette, Peninsula Daily News reporters Zach Jablonski and Paul Gottlieb and PDN Executive Editor Leah Leach contributed to this story.

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