Going for a hike? Bring a face covering. You don't have to wear it when you're alone, but it is required when you're near other visitors.
That's the message from Boulder County open space managers and rangers who are working diligently to keep their parks open through the heightened usage brought on by the covid-19 pandemic.
It's not just a good idea, it's the law.
In Boulder County and the surrounding communities of Boulder, Louisville, Superior, Lafayette, and Erie, face coverings in the outdoors are mandated when individuals are not able to maintain social distancing.
Boulder County rangers and volunteers are setting the example by keeping their faces covered, and spreading the word on social media and through lighthearted PSAs (such as the mask-wearing horse on trail patrol, in the photo above) that wearing a mask enables everyone to enjoy the outdoors.
In the rest of Colorado, regulations vary by community, but there's a growing consensus among outdoor users that bringing a mask, and putting it on when passing others or in crowded areas is the new outdoor etiquette.
It's the way to show mutual respect to other visitors, and the rangers, workers, and park managers risking exposure to covid-19 to keep the parks open.
As Boulder County Parks and Open Space puts it:
"All visitors must bring a face covering with them to open space properties and wear them at the trailheads, when passing others, and anytime it is not possible to keep a safe 6-foot distance from anyone not residing in the same household."
"Face coverings are not necessary when on the trail away from other people. It's completely acceptable to lower them for comfort, but have them ready to cover mouth and nose when encountering other visitors."
Here’s the full request from Boulder County:
"Many residents don't feel safe visiting the trails right now because so few people are wearing masks when they get close to each other. Everyone should feel welcome and safe when recreating on open space, especially our most vulnerable residents. It's such an important resource for mental and physical health in these challenging times," says Eric Lane, director of Boulder County Parks & Open Space.
It's critical to remember that not everyone infected by the virus will show symptoms; therefore, it's best to keep a 6 foot distance whenever possible, wear a face covering, and avoid touching your face.
"Having a mask with you whenever you leave the house is as important as remembering your keys or other essential items, whether you're going to the grocery store or visiting an open space property," adds Lane.
Maintenance staff, trailhead ambassadors, and park rangers are working hard to maintain a pleasant and safe environment for visitors.
Restrooms are cleaned and trashcans are emptied daily, parking lots and trailhead amenities are monitored, and first responders are on call to assist when necessary.
"Park rangers, deputies, and first responders do not hesitate to assist visitors with their needs – answering questions, providing first aid, or assisting with a rescue. Please help me keep my staff and other first responders healthy and available to assist you during your visit by wearing a face covering at the trailheads and when interacting with staff. Wearing face coverings in parks and open spaces is not about anyone’s ideology or beliefs, rather it is about ensuring that the trails remain open and safe for everyone in our community,” says Bevin Carithers, chief ranger for Boulder County Parks & Open Space.
Visitors who do not have a face covering with them may be asked to leave the property.
For more guidance on the face covering order, please visit the COVID-19 Boulder County Face Covering Order webpage.