Illinois state parks and other facilities closed
Want to burn off some coronavirus anxiety by taking a walk in the woods? Forget heading to an Illinois state park.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources on Monday closed all facilities -- including trails -- to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Citing an unprecedented health situation, IDNR announced it was closing all state parks, fish and wildlife areas, recreational areas and historic sites. The agency also canceled upcoming scheduled events.
"Social distancing and staying confined to one's home are absolutely necessary to slowing the progression of COVID-19," said IDNR spokesperson Rachel Torbert.
"IDNR sees the closures of our state parks, fish and wildlife areas, recreational areas and historic sites as a necessary step in helping stem the spread of disease."
The IDNR decision shows how fast situations are changing. On Friday afternoon, patrons of the Volo Bog State Natural Area and Moraine Hills State Park/McHenry Dam were told programs with 22 or fewer participants were set to proceed with precautions for social distancing. Hiking in nature was described as a fun way to practice safe social distancing.
That changed Sunday, Torbert said.
"The longer we put off social distancing, the worse it (spread of the virus) will become," said Stacy Iwanicki, educational natural resources coordinator at Volo Bog/Moraine Hills.
All programs, meetings and volunteer trainings are on hold indefinitely. When or if they will be rescheduled is unknown.
The number of visitors to IDNR facilities varies by season and location. However, more than 39 million people visit Illinois state parks, recreational areas, fish and wildlife areas and historic sites annually, Torbert said.
The agency is working closely with the Illinois Department of Public Health and Gov. JB Pritzker's office to monitor and assess when the facilities can safely be reopened, she added.
Anyone affected by a cancellation or closure should call the administrative information line weekdays at (217) 782-6752. Visit https://www2.illinois.gov for a complete list of IDNR sites.