State Parks urges Fourth of July revelers to recreate responsibly

  • Fri Jul 3rd, 2020 1:30am
  • News

Submitted by Washington State Parks

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission encourages safe and responsible gatherings in state parks during the upcoming Fourth of July holiday.

The Fourth of July falls on a Saturday this year, prompting concerns by State Parks staff about larger-than-normal attendance over the holiday weekend, crowding and poor etiquette, especially at parks on or near beaches, lakes and rivers.

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, State Parks reminds celebrants to practice social distancing and good hygiene, use face coverings and limit party sizes.

Parks also strongly urges visitors to:

• Recreate close to home and only with members of the same household.

• Check for park closures before heading out.

• Bring extra supplies — including hand sanitizer and toilet paper.

• Pack out what they’ve packed in.

• Have a Plan B in case the park is too crowded.

For those visiting parks for day-use only, purchasing a Discover Pass before arriving at the park also will help.

Many communities adjacent to state parks are in Phase 1 or 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Safe Start Washington plan. Several smaller counties may have difficulty serving an influx of visitors. Fueling up and grocery shopping before leaving home will help ease the burden on these communities.

The use of personal fireworks is illegal in state parks and in San Juan County.

Parks reminds beachgoers to have a safe Fourth of July and to be kind to Washington beaches:

• Camping on the beach is illegal. Do not stay on the beach overnight.

• Visitors should use restrooms, not dunes, as toilets. It is illegal to relieve one’s• self on the beach.

• Coastal ecosystems are fragile, and marine life has become increasingly polluted with trash and plastics, some of which cycle into our food chain. Keep our beaches clean!

Pack it in, Pack it out! With high tide peaking near 12:30 a.m. on July 5, trash will be washed into the ocean before volunteer groups can pick it up. Garbage receptacles may be available, but visitors should plan to pack out trash and anything they have brought with them. All fireworks must be fully extinguished before visitors dispose of them.

Fires must be small, contained and at least 100 feet from the dunes and extinguished before leaving.

Although it is legal to drive onto the beach in several areas (25 mph speed limit or less with pedestrian traffic), the high tide will be 8 to 10 feet high, and cars parked below the high tide line may get stuck or washed out to sea.

Law enforcement and volunteers will not be able to tow stuck cars. Strongly advised: get off the beach by 11 p.m.

State Parks Rangers, along with local law enforcement and Washington State Patrol, will be patrolling the beach, providing education and enforcement.

Respect any beach driving closures in areas designated to protect wildlife and marine habitat.