The Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands (BPL) has announced that it will close nearly a dozen coastal state parks and beaches on Friday to protect the health and safety of visitors from the threat of COVID-19. The parks will be closed until April 8, but that could be extended.
In a press release, the Bureau said overcrowding in the past few weeks has made it difficult for members of the public to achieve appropriate social distancing, which has been shown to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“So if people are trying to pass each other on those trails, they're not keeping a six foot buffer between themselves and other people,” said Agriculture Commissioner Amanda Beal. “In some places, it really is almost impossible to uphold those recommendations.”
With the support of Gov. Janet Mills, the Bureau said it would close the following state parks: Reid, Kettle Cove, Popham Beach, Two Lights, Crescent Beach, Scarborough Beach, Ferry Beach and Mackworth Island. Fort Popham and Fort Baldwin will also be closed.
Other state parks such as Wolfe's Neck, Bradbury Mountain, Sebago and Range Pond are also being monitored for heavy usage and the bureau says that additional measures may be necessary in those places as warmer temperatures arrive in April.
“Closing any of our state parks is the last thing we want to do,” said Beal. “We are keeping as many state parks as possible open and we encourage people to look for ways to take much needed breaks in the outdoors that allow them to avoid crowded places and maintain physical distancing.”
Visitors are encouraged to be mindful of crowding and to get outside on public lands, wildlife management areas and land trust trails as an alternative. Additional steps under consideration for this weekend include restricting vehicular traffic and parking at some parks to reduce the concentration of visitors.
Beal also encouraged residents to visit other types of public lands.
“There are lots of opportunities close to home. Because we do, as I said, have many different ways of enjoying the outdoors, from public lands, to community parks, to land trust trails.”
Originally posted 7:18 p.m. March 26, 2020. Updated 3:24 p.m. March 27, 2020.