The Forest Preserve District of Will County will reopen its preserve access area parking lots and boat launches on Friday, May 1, as a result of Gov. J.B. Pritzker modifying his stay-at-home order, which was instituted March 21 to fight the new coronavirus pandemic in Illinois.
However, all visitor centers, dog parks, latrines and water fountains will remain closed through the duration of the stay-at-home mandate’s extension, which now ends May 30. All public programs, rentals and non-district events have been canceled through May 30. Because the Monee Reservoir visitor center/concessions building is closed, there will be no boat rentals until further notice. These closures and cancellations will remain in effect to help stop the spread of the new coronavirus, which could overwhelm healthcare institutions and cause more deaths.
Once parking lots reopen May 1, people should not be congregating in the preserves and at trailheads, which could spread COVID-19. It may be necessary to temporarily close sites where social distancing is not being maintained.
The District is urging members of the public to adopt all outdoor recreation safety measures recommended by the state as they visit the preserves. Here are the guidelines issued by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources on April 23:
- Bring alcohol-based hand sanitizer (containing at least 60 percent alcohol) and face coverings.
- Practice social distancing by keeping at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and others.
- Stay home if you are sick or feeling any symptoms, such as fever, coughing, troubled breathing, and/or flu-like symptoms.
- Visit alone or with members of your household.
- Stay local; visit preserves that are closest to where you live.
- If you arrive at a preserve and crowds are forming, please move to another area or return another time/day to visit.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper arm/elbow.
For the latest Forest Preserve COVID-19-related updates, visit ReconnectWithNature.org.