WVPD COVID-19 Response

Winooski Valley Park District’s Response to COVID-19 Pandemic:

The Winooski Valley Park District is closely monitoring the ongoing Coronavirus, COVID-19 outbreak. As the situation continues to change rapidly, our top priority remains protecting the health, safety, and well-being of our park users, caretakers, and staff, while also doing our part to slow the spread of this disease as best we can. WVPD will continue to monitor and follow all guidelines and recommendation from the CDC and Vermont Department of Health, along with all local and state officials.

Governor Scott’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order on March 24, 2020, allows for exercise, which includes hiking and walking. In accordance with the Governor’s new “Play Smart, Play Safe” amendment on May 6, 2020, we have updated our guidelines for park use below. While our park system currently remains open, we ask that everyone visiting a WVPD park to please follow the guidelines and recommendations listed below. WVPD also asks that visitors abide by Gov. Phil Scott’s guidelines for safe outdoor recreation, including staying close to home, observing social distancing while outdoors, avoiding risky outdoor activities and respecting posted signs.

Starting August 1, 2020 per the State of Vermont Mask Mandate all visitors to WVPD parks will be required to wear a mask or cloth facial covering any time where they come in contact with others from outside their households, and where it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of at least six feet. This includes while outside on trails, in parking lots, and all other areas of that park. 

Failure to follow guidelines will result in park closures. With the increased pressure on our trails during this time, and the continued critical need to reduce exposure to this virus, we are asking all park users to please do their part to help keep our parks open and our communities safe.

We appreciate you doing YOUR part and we rely on YOUR actions:

  • Practice physical distancing. Leave at least six feet of distance between you and other visitors. Step off the trail as needed when others are passing to keep the 6-foot distance. Runners, please give an extra space to walkers as you pass by and cut back ahead of them. Also let them know you’re there! Bikers must stay on designated bike path routes – bikes are not allowed on all other WVPD trails.
  • Bring face masks or facial covering during your visit, and wear them anytime another person (outside your family/group) comes within 6 feet of you.
  • Do not congregate at parking lots, on trails, or in fields. If you are visiting with another ‘trusted household’ please keeps group to less than 10 people, do not congregate in one area, and follow Vermont Department of Health on how to ‘Safely Connect with Friends & Family‘.
  • Park only in designated parking areas – especially at the Ethan Allen Homestead and Colchester Pond. Please DO NOT PARK on access roads. Colchester Pond parking lot can only accommodate 18 cars in the lot and parking on the access road between the gate and the parking lot is prohibited per Town of Colchester zoning.
  • Come back another time if parking lots are full. This will limit crowding (and potential virus transmission) both in the parking lots and along the trails. Have a few ‘back up parks’ ready to visit in case your first choice is too crowded.
  • Keep pets on a leash AT ALL TIMESWhile we understand pets need exercise too, this is already a rule of ALL WVPD parks and needs to be followed, especially now. Unfamiliar pets can make other park users nervous (at an already anxious time) and can make maintaining the 6 foot physical distance difficult to maintain. Pets are part of the family too and need to maintain their physical distance from each other and other people as well.
  • Visit parks ONLY with members of your immediate household. We understand it is difficult to not visit and socialize with friends and extended family, however, please only visit parks with those that live in the same house as you and please do not gather or congregate with others outside your household. The picnic shelter at the Ethan Allen Homestead is closed for the 2020 season.
  • Avoid touching surfaces and structures. To protect yourself and your family from possible exposure to the virus, avoid touching any surfaces or structures, such as fences, gates, signs and sign posts, information boards, picnic tables, and railings.
  • Respect the trails. Please stay on designated trails – even if they are very muddy (walk through the mud!). This will help reduce erosion and help minimize the need for drastic and costly trail repair later on. Our staff is unable to monitor and maintain trails at our normal level this season.
  • Follow all other park rules. Before visiting a WVPD park please familiarize yourself with our park rules.

Note:  There are no public restrooms available at WVPD parks. Restrooms and buildings at the Ethan Allen Homestead are closed until further notice. 

For more information and to stay up to date on how WVPD is handling the COVID-19 situation, please continue to visit our COVID-19 Response page, find us on Facebook or follow us on Instagram. You can also contact Executive Director, Nick Warner at nickwarner@wvpd.org.

If you have traveled in affected locations, have had contact with someone who has COVID-19 or someone who has traveled in the affected locations, or are ill please stay home and do not visit local parks.  If you have underlying health conditions, please follow Centers for Disease Control guidelines

We THANK YOU for your understanding, support, and cooperation during this time.

Posted April 10, 2020; updated May 11, 2020


HOW TO SAFELY USE WVPD PARKS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC:

  • Maintain at least a six-foot (6’) physical distance from other people in the park as recommended by the CDC at all times
  • Please bring a mask/facial covering and wear if you cannot maintain 6 feet distance from others. Starting August 1, 2020 per the State of Vermont Mask Mandate all visitors to WVPD parks will be required to wear a mask or cloth facial covering any time where they come in contact with others from outside their households, and where it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of at least six feet. 
  • Please stay home if you or members of your household are feeling unwell
  • Do not congregate
  • Keep your dog(s) on a leash at all times and avoid touching and interacting other people’s dogs (they are members of the household and must follow physical and social distancing as well)
  • Avoid touching structures and surfaces such as fences, sign posts, information boards, picnic tables, gates and railings
  • Wash hands often with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol. Carry hand sanitizer with you while visiting parks
  • Pick up your trash and properly remove it from the park to help protect our staff. Please pick up, bag, and properly dispose of your dog’s waste. Follow Leave No Trace and Carry-In, Carry-Out practices
  • Restroom facilities are closed – plan ahead
  • Bring your own water

Posted March 27, 2020; updated April 3, 2020; updated May 11, 2020; updated July 31, 2020


COVID-19 Information & Resources:

Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)

Vermont Department of Health

Language Translation & Resources


Resources from other Land Managers in Vermont:

The Nature Conservancy in Vermont

Vermont Forest, Parks and Recreation

Vermont State Parks

Green Mountain Club

Audubon Vermont & Green Mountain Audubon Center

Catamount Trails Association

Vermont Huts

Vermont Land Trust

Vermont Recreation & Parks Association

Vermont Agency of Natural Resources

 

For information on how our member towns are responding to the COVID-19 situation please visit each member towns website – which can be found on Member Communities Page.


WVPD OFFICE CLOSURE:

Due to the situation in regards to the COVID-19 outbreak, WVPD offices located at the Ethan Allen Homestead are closed until further notice. We are monitoring the situation closely and will continue to do so, along with following all guidelines and recommendation from the CDC and Vermont Department of Health, along will state and local officials. WVPD staff are working remotely, and are available via email (see below for staff email addresses or visit our contacts page).  In addition to the WVPD offices, the Ethan Allen Homestead Museum and Burlington Forest Preschool along with all public facilities (bathrooms) are closed, and all in-person meetings, programs, and events are postponed until further notice.  For questions specific to the Ethan Allen Homestead Museum or Burlington Forest Preschool, please contact them directly. The WVPD’s landline (802) 863-5744 will be checked periodically for messages; however, email is the best mode of communication at this time.

We strongly recommend that you gather information and track bulletins related to this situation at:

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Vermont Department of Health

We will do our best to keep our park system in good shape – and recognize that they offer a unique respite during these trying times.  Parks will remain open per usual from dawn to dusk each day. If you do utilize our parks, please respect park rules and regulations, practice social distancing, avoid touching any surfaces, and make sure to sanitize before and after using the facilities.

Over the coming weeks, WVPD be compiling resources and activities to inform people about best practices on recreating outside while still maintaining physical distance, and to inspire people to get outside and connect deeper with nature during these isolating times. Check back here for more details, visit our Facebook page, or contact info@wvpd.org for details!

Thank you for your patience and understanding, and for joining the community in protecting each other during the coming weeks.

Best wishes,

Nick Warner
WVPD Executive Director

Posted March 16, 2020

 

Staff Email Contact:

Nick Warner, Executive Director nickwarner@wvpd.org

Tim Larned, Park Superintendent timlarned@wvpd.org

Lauren Chicote, Programs Director info@wvpd.org

Remy Crettol, Programs & Project Coordinator, remycrettol@wvpd.org

Rachel Proctor, AmeriCorps Environmental Educator & Resource Specialist, americorps@wvpd.org