COLUMBUS – In response to the developing public health situation with COVID-19 and the Ohio Department of Health’s (ODH) Stay at Home Order, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Forestry will be closing All Purpose Vehicle (APV) areas and all campgrounds including group camps, horse camps, and family camps. All public restrooms will also be closed.
“These are difficult decisions to make, and we appreciate the patience and understanding of our outdoor enthusiasts,” said Dan Balser, chief of the ODNR Division of Forestry. “Visitors can still enjoy the state forests and for the safety of those visitors, it is our intent that these closures will prevent the gathering of large groups.”
The Maumee State Forest APV Area is now closed, and the opening of the Pike, Perry, and Richland Furnace state forest APV Areas, scheduled to open on April 1, will be delayed until the Stay at Home Order is lifted.
“Opening weekend and current use at the Maumee APV Area simply create too much congestion and congregation in the APV parking areas to safely open them,” Balser said.
Due to the Stay at Home Order, division staff are also not able to safely inspect the trails, remove downed trees, properly maintain facilities, and perform other work necessary to keep areas open and safe.
Bridle trails and mountain bike trails remain open for their designated uses, but visitors should follow social distancing guidelines. Hiking is still permitted on all state forest trails, including APV trails, using recommended social distancing behavior.
Closure on these ODNR properties is effective March 24 to protect the health of both visitors and staff. Closures are expected to be temporary until COVID-19 guidelines change or are lifted.
Public outdoor spaces and all other trail systems, including our small remote backpack camps will remain open. The Division of Forestry gun ranges will also remain open. Visitors should use common sense and follow the guidance from the National Recreation and Park Association for staying safe while they are out:
* Follow CDC’s guidance on personal hygiene prior to heading to trails — wash hands, carry hand sanitizer, do not use trails if you have symptoms, cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, etc.
* Observe at all times CDC’s minimum recommended social distancing of six feet from other people. Practice it and know what it looks like. Keep it as you walk, bike or hike.
* Warn other trail users of your presence and as you pass to allow proper distance and step off trails to allow others to pass, keeping minimum recommended distances at all times. Signal your presence with your voice, bell or horn.
* Note that trail users may find public restrooms closed — be prepared before you leave and time outings so that you are not dependent on public restrooms.
* Bring water or drinks — public drinking fountains may be disabled and should not be used, even if operable. It is important that hikers on state forest backpack trails take their own water or filtration system because backpack trail water tanks will not be refilled at this time.
* Bring a suitable trash bag. Leave no trash, take everything out to protect workers.
To learn more about Ohio’s woodlands and for current updates and closures, visit us at forestry.ohiodnr.gov and follow us on Instagram at @odnrforestry.
ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.