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State parks, other state lands, golf to open May 5 for day use

Camping to remain closed

You should be able to enjoy Steamboat Rock State Park and other local recreation areas soon, as well as golfing and fishing, but don’t plan on a cross-state camping trip yet.

Gov. Jay Inslee announced Monday that restrictions on fishing, golfing, and access to public lands such as state parks would partially lift on May 5, but the state is still not opening campgrounds and social distancing guidelines are still in force.

The Banks Lake Golf Course is set to reopen May 5 but with restrictions in place to follow that social distancing.

What those restrictions will look like is unsure right now.

“We don’t have all the details yet from the state,” said Grant County Port District 7 Commissioner Jim Keene who manages the golf course. “We’re still waiting for that.”

Keene said he would let The Star know when he knows more.

State parks and other public lands are set to reopen on May 5 for day-use recreation according to an April 27 press release from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, although some parks may ease into reopening.

Camping will remain closed until further notice.

Entrances to Steamboat Rock’s day-use area and campground, as well as to Osborne Bay and Northrup Point boat launches have been blocked off due to the social distance requirements during the novel COVID-19 outbreak.

“The reopening will apply to state-managed parks, wildlife areas, recreation land and boat launches,” the press release states. “However, it may take several days for gates to be unlocked and sites to be serviced at remote areas due to limited staff capacity.”

“Some parks may not open immediately due to impacts on rural communities and the potential for crowding,” the release continues. “State Parks is working with local communities and its partners to determine the best approach and timing to reopening these areas. … Visitor centers, camping and other overnight accommodations on state-managed lands will remain closed until further notice.”

State parks updates can be found online at

The Department of Natural Resources will also be reopening their lands beginning May 5 “on a rolling basis,” their website says. “Check back after that date for the latest site openings and before you plan your next adventure.”

The public can find the latest information on DNR site openings at

The press release also suggests people bring their own personal protective equipment, handwashing supplies, and toilet paper.

“People should also be prepared to change plans if their destination appears crowded or is not yet fully operational,” the release states. “If sites become overcrowded or other COVID-19 related public safety concerns develop, state agencies may close areas with limited notice to further protect public health and safety.”

State guidelines for responsible recreation in the outdoors

Before you go

Check what’s open. While many state-managed land destinations are open for day use, other local, tribal, and federal land may still be closed.

Opt for day trips close to home. Overnight stays are not permitted.

Stay with immediate household members only. Recreation with those outside of your household creates new avenues for virus transmission.

Come prepared. Visitors may find reduced or limited restroom services as staff begin the process to reopen facilities at wildlife areas and water-access sites. You are advised to bring your own soap, water, hand sanitizer and toilet paper, as well as a mask or bandana to cover your nose and mouth.

Enjoy the outdoors when healthy. If you have symptoms of fever, coughing or shortness of breath, save your outdoor adventure for another day.

When you get there

Avoid crowds. Be prepared to go somewhere else or come back another time if your destination looks crowded.

Practice physical distancing. Keep 6 feet between you and those outside your immediate household. Launch one boat at a time to give others enough space to launch safely. Leave at least one parking space between your vehicle and the vehicle next to you. Trailer your boat in the same way.

Wash your hands often. Keep up on personal hygiene and bring your own water, soap and hand sanitizer with you.

Pack out what you pack in. Take any garbage with you, including disposable gloves and masks.


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