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  • Pima County officials join others in “Recreate Responsibly” message for July 4th weekend

    Jul 01, 2020 | Read More News
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    Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation has joined a coalition of municipalities, federal agencies and outdoor organizations across Southern Arizona urging anyone enjoying public lands, forests, and parks this upcoming July 4th weekend to recreate responsibly. An active wildland fire season and the COVID-19 pandemic have combined to create an unprecedented situation that requires outdoor enthusiasts to plan ahead and practice personal responsibility.

    “Before heading outdoors, keep in mind that, unfortunately, several spots are closed due to the Bighorn Fire,” Karen Simms, Pima County Natural Resources division manager, said. “Mt. Lemmon is closed, as are portions of Coronado National Forest, including Sabino and Bear Canyon, as well as Catalina State Park.” 

    View the closure orders and maps at inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/closures/6741/.  

    Officials from Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation, Tucson Parks and Recreation Department, Town of Marana, Town of Oro Valley Parks and Recreation Department, Coronado National Forest, Saguaro National Park, Bureau of Land Management and Visit Tucson have joined with outdoor organizations Bighorn Fireincluding the Arizona Trail Association, Friends of Saguaro National Park, The Wilderness Society, Western National Parks Association, Ironwood Tree Experience, and Sonoran Desert Mountain Bicyclists and others to highlight the importance of mindfully enjoying the outdoors this summer.

    Recreation areas overseen by local and national agencies are experiencing higher than normal use as people look for safe and healthy activities consistent with recommendations from health officials. While getting outdoors is great for physical and mental health, many areas have seen an increase in trash dumping and other damaging behavior.  

    "Spending time outdoors has been important for many Americans during this public health crisis. This situation has been complicated further as the wildfire season in southeastern Arizona intensifies.  We have a collective responsibility to care for these special places and each other. This is especially important to consider on July 4th weekend because of fireworks," said Leah McGinnis, Superintendent of Saguaro National Park. Fire restrictions in many of these outdoor spaces are currently in effect and these restrictions include open campfires and fireworks.

    Together, the coalition urges the following steps:

    Before You Head Out on Your Excursion

    • Know Before You Go: Check the status of the place you want to visit. If it is closed, don’t go. The Bighorn Fire and other incidents have impacted access to popular areas. Check to determine whether additional restrictions are in place. Have alternate locations in mind in case your first destination is overcrowded.
    • Plan Ahead: Prepare for some visitor centers and restrooms to be closed, and bring essentials like extra water, sun protection, hand sanitizer, and a face covering. Remember that many cities and counties in Arizona now have face mask requirements. Typical requirements are that you must have a face mask with you when you leave your house, and you must wear a face mask in public, including in the outdoors, when you come within six feet of someone else. 
    • Stay Close to Home: This is not the time to travel long distances to recreate. Further, many small and indigenous communities have constrained health care and first responder infrastructures. Be conscious and considerate of the people who live near the areas where you choose to recreate and do not place additional burdens on those communities.

    Once You’re Outside

    • Practice Physical Distancing: Adventure only with your immediate household. Be prepared to cover your nose and mouth and give others space. If you are sick, stay home.
    • Play It Safe: Follow all applicable fire restrictions and fireworks prohibitions. Slow down and choose lower-risk activities to reduce your risk of injury. If you stay closer to Tucson and enjoy lower elevations, do so early in the morning or late in the evening to limit dangerous heat exposure.
    • Leave No Trace: Respect public lands and communities. Take all your garbage out with you, especially toilet paper.
    The message to the Southern Arizona community builds from the work of a national coalition that has come together to provide advice for recreating responsibility.  Learn more at  https://www.recreateresponsibly.org/. The Arizona Office of Tourism is maintaining links to up-to-date information about which parks and recreation areas are available: https://tourism.az.gov/responsible-recreation-across-arizona/