MEDFORD, Ore. — This week Jackson County will begin gradually reopening parks that were shut down due to coronavirus concerns, the county announced on Tuesday. Beginning May 1, a number of boat ramps and other facilities at county parks will be open to the public again.
"In an effort to comply with Governor Kate Brown’s Executive Order #20-12, while balancing the outdoor recreational needs of Jackson County residents, the Jackson County Parks Program will begin a phased reopening of county parks starting on Friday, May 1, 2020," the County said in a statement.
However, Friday will only see some a short list of facilities reopen — the Dodge Bridge boat ramp, Takelma boat ramp, Upper Rogue Regional boat ramp, Rogue Elk boat ramp, Willow Lake boat ramp, Agate Lake boat ramp, Hoover Ponds, and the dispersed recreation sites on the south end of Emigrant Lake, including the areas known as “the cemetery” and “the quarry.”
Because the Governor's order remains in effect, the County said that it will clean and sanitize restrooms at these sites on a routine basis.
"We are counting on the public to respect this requirement and leave both soap and sanitizer in place for other’s to use," the County said. "Removal of these items will ultimately result in the closure of the restroom facilities."
Park guests will also need to follow physical distancing, staying at least 6 feet apart.
The County's larger park facilities are tentatively scheduled to reopen on May 15, though some facilities known to attract groups — playgrounds, picnic shelters, and the like — may remain closed for the time being.
"These larger day use parks have a delayed opening in order to give the Parks Program a chance to rehire staff that was laid off at the onset of this public health emergency and make certain that procedures are in place to ensure a safe environment for our customers and staff," the County said. "Once reopen, large gatherings of customers will be highly discouraged."
Any County-operated camp sites will remain closed pending the Governor's decision to reopen campgrounds in the state.
Oregon state parks, on the other hand, will remain closed beyond May 8, the Parks Department announced on Tuesday, and all reservations are being canceled "until at least after May 25."
"We’re working daily on plans to re-open some parks for daytime visits as soon as it’s safe to do it, but we don’t have dates yet," Oregon State Parks said. "Camping will restart after day-use. It’ll all happen when we can meet health goals and our neighbor communities are ready. When we do start to open, things will be a bit different to protect you, our staff and volunteers, and the park."