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Getting Outside – Safely – in the Midst of COVID-19

Updated 4/3/2020
 
As we get through this pandemic together—by physically staying apart—certain things become clear. We are deeply and profoundly connected, each and every one of us. And, in these times of turmoil, we’ve reawakened to our need for nature, and the comfort we can find there.
 
While the state’s Stay Healthy at Home mandate puts into place new and necessary restrictions to protect public heath and safety, those who are well and able may still venture outside for fresh air and exercise, alone or with members of their household.
 
What a relief this has been. 
 

A preserve visitor finds a moment of respite on the Bold Coast.

 

Guidelines for safely visiting preserves and other conserved lands 

While some state parks and public lands require closure, right now MCHT preserves remain open, and we encourage you to use them if you’re able. 
 
Thankfully, Maines conservation community and state natural resource agencies have provided some helpful guidelines for safely getting outside right now. We’re happy to provide them below.
 
Find the Right Time and Place
  • Know what’s close to home: Consider visiting a nearby Wildlife Management Area, or a less-trafficked state park, public land, or local land trust 
  • Check before you go: Visit websites to see the latest information on closures or conditions. Please respect all property closures.
  • Have a plan B: If the parking lot is full, the destination is too crowded. If your first destination has a busy parking lot, go to the next spot on your list!
  • Avoid peak times: Get out earlier or later in the day.
  • Recharge in your backyard and neighborhood!: Spring in Maine means there is a lot to see and explore right in our own yards.

Be Prepared Before Heading Out

  • Expect limited services: Facilities like public restrooms are likely closed, so plan accordingly.
  • Pack snacks and water: Do what you can to avoid having to make stops along the way.
  • Dress for success: It is spring in Maine, so trails are likely to be wet, muddy, slippery, or icy; bring appropriate gear to match the conditions. Local outdoor brands are open for online sales and are available to give advice on appropriate gear and equipment.
  • Don’t take risks: Stick to easier terrain to avoid injuries, which add stress on first responders and medical resources.
  • Watch out for ticks: Wear light-colored pants, closed-toe shoes, and apply EPA-approved bug repellent.

Heed All COVID-19 Health Warnings

  • Practice social distancing: Stay at least six feet away from other people who do not live in your household. If necessary, step aside when passing other people on the trail. And remember that groups of 10 or more are prohibited.
  • Don’t linger: Shorten your stay when visiting natural stopping points such as waterfalls, summits, and viewpoints so everyone can enjoy them while maintaining a safe distance.
  • Don’t touch: Avoid touching signs, kiosks, buildings, and benches to minimize the potent spread of the virus.
  • If you’re sick, stay home: It puts others at risk when you leave home while exhibiting symptoms related to COVID-19, or if you have recently been exposed to the virus.

Where to go

Maine Coast Heritage Trust has dozens of preserves up and down the coast free and open to all to visit. We also recommend visiting the Maine Land Trust Network site to locate your local land trust’s website. Maine Trail Finder is another excellent resource. 

A dose of the Maine coast for those who can’t leave the house 

We have collected paintings, poems, essays, photos, and more celebrating the Maine coast, and those unable to leave the house may find some comfort in this assemblage of beauty. Check out Voices from the Coast.

Please, take care. And please, be in touch if you have any questions.  

In the midst of so much uncertainty, MCHT continues to work to protect the Maine coast and your access to this extraordinary place. That’s something you can count on.  

Sarah Faragher, December Sky over Penobscot Bay, from Stockton Springs, Maine, 2018, oil on canvas, 12 x 20 inches. Part of the Voices from the Coast project.

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