DNR: State park closures likely if people don't follow social distancing rules

Posted at 2:33 PM, Mar 31, 2020

(WXYZ) — The Michigan Department of Natural Resources said it is closing the Tippy Dam Recreation Area due to crowded conditions, and added that more closures are likely.

According to the DNR, there was a surge in visitors at state parks over the last two weeks, including at the Tippy Dam Recreation Area in Manistee County.

DNR staff observed many instances of improper social distancing and people traveling a long way to visit the outdoor space. They say this type of nonessential travel could increase the spread of COVID-19.

The closure is a result of a Land Use Order of the Director signed Tuesday by DNR Director Dan Eichinger. Anyone entering Tippy Dam Recreation Area by vehicle, foot or bicycle may receive a civil infraction with fines up to $500.

For now, all other state parks and recreation areas are open, but social distancing practices must be adhered to in order to keep them open.

"The concern is twofold: residents traveling long distances and unintentionally spreading COVID-19 and visitors congregating too closely," said Ron Olson, chief of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division. "In order to continue to keep state parks open, we urge everyone to follow effective social distancing practices, including only visiting state parks locally and avoiding high-traffic areas within parks."

Know before you go

Anyone planning to visit any state-managed land is first encouraged to visit the DNR COVID-19 response page for updates on facility closures, changes in services and event/meeting cancellations. Follow the latest information.

Please keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • Go out only if you’re feeling healthy.
  • Long-distance travel is discouraged unless it is essential.
  • Individuals must maintain a minimum of 6 feet between themselves and people of other households. Anyone not following the social-distancing requirement may face misdemeanor violation/arrest penalties, including up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine up to $500.
  • Wash hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If those aren’t available, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • When driving, keep windows slightly open to provide air flow. Do not drive with people who don’t live in your household.
  • If the parking is full when attempting to visit a park, recreation area, boating access site or trailhead, leave and choose a different location.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

Read our daily Coronavirus Live Blog for the latest updates and news on coronavirus.

Click here for a page with resources including a COVID-19 overview from the CDC, details on cases in Michigan, a timeline of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's orders since the outbreak, coronavirus' impact on Southeast Michigan, and links to more information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC and the WHO.

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

Find out how you can help metro Detroit restaurants struggling during the pandemic.

See all of our Helping Each Other stories.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.