Parks officials urging caution this Memorial Day weekend

MEDFORD, Ore. — “We know a lot of folks are getting a little cooped up inside [and] want to get out and get some fresh air and there’s a huge demand for it,” said Steve Lambert, Jackson County parks program manager.

Masks and social distancing are some of the many precautions Oregon parks officials are recommending this Memorial Day weekend.

And it’s about to be a busy few days.

“Of the nearly 600 camp sites that we have in our system now, almost all of them are reserved,” said Lambert.

Lambert says the agency reopened the majority of county parks on Thursday. But they’re relying on the public to be safe and responsible.

“We really want people to practice staying in small groups [of] 10 or less, social distancing themselves when they’re not with immediate family, and just providing good hygiene,” he said.

“Travel as close to home as possible and stick with people in your household and bring a face covering, maintain your distance from people when you’re at a park,” said Oregon Parks and Recreation Department spokesperson, Chris Havel.

Havel says many state parks are only open for day use at the moment. He says they’re critically short staffed because of the shutdown and layoffs are a possibility.

“Limited mowing, fewer showers if any, fewer restrooms, less trash collection… the sorts of things we would normally make the hallmark of our service are not going to be possible,” Havel said.

Both say they want people to have fun and enjoy this holiday weekend, but to keep in mind the hard work staff are putting into making things clean and healthy.

“Really this is going to be a cooperative project between the visitor doing their job and us doing what we can with our limited resources,” said Havel.

Currently, Jackson County is requiring reservations for the use of camp sites.

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department announced Thursday the campground system will be back open in a limited capacity on June 9th.

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