ELKINS, W.Va. – Keeping in line with current federal, state and local guidance for social distancing and to ensure health safety of its employees, visitors and volunteers, Monongahela National Forest officials announced Thursday that they have temporarily extended road closures in the Dolly Sods area.
“National Forest and Grant County officials have worked together for years to ensure the safety of visitors and emergency responders by closing access roads to Dolly Sods Wilderness during the winter,” said Troy Waskey, Cheat-Potomac District Ranger. “Now we are working together to help slow the spread of COVID-19 by continuing to keep these roads closed in order to reduce heavy use of the area,” Waskey said.
Dolly Sods Wilderness is one of the most popular areas to visit in the Monongahela National Forest, drawing hikers and backpackers from well beyond the mid-Atlantic region, according to Waskey. “By keeping these roads closed until public health, state, and local officials begin to lift social distancing guidelines, we can help prevent COVID-19 spread between people mixing together at some of our most crowded destinations,” Waskey said.
Roads impacted by this announcement include:
· Forest Road 19 from the gate near County Road 28/7, locally known as the Jordan Run Road, west to the gate near Laneville.
· Forest Road 75, from the gate near County Road 28/7, locally known as the Jordan Run Road, west and south to the junction of Forest Road 75 and Forest Road 19.
Other recreation opportunities, such as fishing, dispersed (roadside) camping (in areas other than the Williams and Cranberry Rivers), hiking, backpacking and backcountry camping on Monongahela National Forest remain available to the public.
The Forest Service closed all developed campgrounds on March 24.
To protect public health and safety, all visitors to the forest are encouraged to:
· Avoid visiting the forest if you are sick and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
· Follow CDC guidance on personal hygiene and social distancing before and during your visit to the forest.
· Take your trash with you when you leave. Trash overflowing the receptacles becomes litter and can be harmful to wildlife and attract predators.
· Please make arrangements to use the restroom before or after your visit to the forest. Unmanaged waste creates a health hazard for our employees and for other visitors.
· If an area is crowded, please search for a less occupied location. Also consider avoiding the forest during high-use periods.
The USDA Forest Service continues to assess and temporarily suspend access to recreation areas that attract large crowds and cannot meet social distancing guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.