One of the only remaining places that people are permitted to visit, other than grocery stores and gas stations, are local parks. These local sanctuaries offer escape from the monotony of what feels like Groundhog Day. The problem is they are overflowing with visitors. How can this be a problem? Most parks and recreation managers would tell you that they would kill for their venues to be flooded with guests. Heavy participation brings awareness to the environment, provides healthy benefits to mind, body, and soul; and increases the chances of more financial support to maintain and improve existing spaces.
However, the overflowing number of guests at parks during this time has made it difficult to properly practice social distancing. More bluntly, people are choosing to not practice social distancing properly. As the weather improves, more people are choosing to meet up at their local park so that they can socialize. While this is not bad in itself, the way they are socializing is. The spread of this virus is happening when large groups of people are in close contact with one another. Congregating in close proximity defeats the purpose of social distancing, which is meant to slow down the spread, not cure it.
In response to the irresponsible gathering of people in the parks systems, the local, state, and federal authorities have had to make the difficult and unpopular decision to close certain parks. As of this writing, all national parks are closed, with several state parks shutting down several, if not all, activities. One of my favorite hiking trails was just recently closed. I selfishly admit the effect it has had on me and how I decompress from anxiety and stress. This situation is almost a ticking time bomb ready to go off at a moment’s notice. One by one the dominoes will fall. If we do not begin to responsibly enjoy the parks that we are freely provided, we risk losing the few remaining public places we have to escape to.
Hopefully, good will come from this: People will remember their local parks. A greater appreciation for the beauty and wonder of our environment will grow. This growth will evolve into action, and in turn, create change in how we treat ourselves, each other, and our world. The end result: A restoration of hope.
Hope From the Trail
Hope From the Trail features original content related to the healthy pursuit of self, others, and nature. Be sure to stay connected for all things outdoors.