DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – If you are seeing more traffic on the trails and bike paths, it’s not your imagination. People are hitting the outdoors in record numbers since the COVID-19 outbreak shut down much of the state in March and April. They haven’t packed their hiking boots since businesses re-opened in May.
Five Rivers MetroParks – which has 19 parks in its system – has seen an increase of 40 percent in visitors compared to 2019, according to MetroParks Rangers Chief Mark Hess. Shelli DiFranco, MetroParks Director of Marketing and Public Engagement, told WDTN.com the park system saw a boom in activity when the state locked down, but has also maintained it into the summer.
“(People) have shown a little bit of interest in everything,” DiFranco said. “We see people fishing, trying kayaking and canoeing at the lakes at Eastwood.”
DiFranco said the increase in visitors won’t affect MetroParks’ funding since they’re free to the public and are funded through levies. The increased amount of visitors hasn’t been a burden on MetroParks workforce to this point they haven’t cut workers due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“We’ve been lucky to be able to keep our staff on payroll,” DiFranco said. “They are out there doing what they do every day. We just ask people to help and be as self as they can be, especially on the water.”
|Five Rivers MetroParks Locations|
|Carriage Hill||Possum Creek|
|Hills and Dales||Wegerzyn Gardens|
The Cox Arboretum MetroPark and the Sugarcreek MetroPark have seen the largest jump in visitors, according to DiFranco. She said rural parks like Germantown MetroPark and Twin Valley MetroPark have also seen big jumps.
“I think people want to go out and get away,” DiFranco said. “They want to go some place that’s not crowded, and a lot of times that can be a (rural) trail near them.”
The parks are asking visitors to adhere to social distance guidelines. Unless they are with a household group, everyone should be six-feet apart.
DiFranco said life jackets are required for any water activities with boats, canoes, kayaks or jetskis. She also said swimming is not allowed at any of the MetroParks locations.
“One of the great things about our parks is we have a lot of water access, especially in a time like this when there are a lot of pools are closed,” DiFranco said.
For locations, safety rules and other information, visit the MetroParks website.
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