All but two of the Nature Conservancy’s 15 sites in Oregon will reopen on Thursday. While these aren’t parks, many of the preserves allow limited public access and wildlife viewing. They include Tom McCall Preserve on the Columbia River Gorge, Table Rocks near Medford and Zumwalt Prairie in Wallowa County.
Cascade Head on the Oregon Coast and Camassia Natural Area in West Linn, which typically welcome visitors, are still closed for now.
“A lot of our preserves in Oregon have very narrow trails [and] it would be difficult-to-impossible to have been able to maintain any type of social distancing when on those trails,” says Allie Gardner, the director of marketing and communications with the Nature Conservancy in Oregon.
She says throughout the pandemic they’ve been trying to prevent people from being infected with COVID-19 and protect rare plants from being damaged.
“We didn’t want to inadvertently encourage people to go off trail and trample some of the sensitive, threatened or endangered species that we’ve been working hard to protect,” she says.
Many of the environmental nonprofit’s sites in Northern California are already open. Those include the McCloud River Preserve and Dye Creek Preserve south of Redding.
The Nature Conservancy sites have been closed since March 23, 2020, around the time many state and federal public lands were also shut to visitors.
Many of those government managed lands reopened last May after public health officials said outdoor activities present low risk for transmission of the coronavirus.