Monongahela National Forest temporarily shuts down developed recreation sites during COVID-19 pandemic


ELKINS, W.Va. – The Monongahela National Forest has temporarily shut down all developed recreation sites and mandated a group-size limitation of 10 people or less across the entire Forest, according to a release from the U.S. Forest Service. The policy change went into effect on Monday, March 30.

The release stated that this policy change was made to be in alignment with the current federal, state and local guidance for social distancing and to ensure the health safety of the Forest’s employees, visitors and volunteers.

The release stated that Monongahela sites impacted by this announcement include :

  • All developed campgrounds
  • All developed day use areas (including visitor centers, picnic areas, observation towers, Highland Scenic Highway overlooks and historic sites)
  • Middle Mountain Cabins
  • Dispersed (roadside) camping along the Cranberry and Williams rivers
  • All toilet facilities

The release stated that other recreation opportunities at Monongahela National Forest such as fishing, dispersed camping (in areas other than the Williams and Cranberry rivers), hiking, backpacking and back country camping remain available to the public. To protect public health and safety, the U.S. Forest Service is encouraging all visitors to the Forest to do the following:

  • 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.
  • Follow CDC guidance on personal hygiene and social distancing before and during your visit to the Forest.
  • 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 release stated that visitors cannot camp in the same dispersed or backcountry campsite on the Forest for more than 14 consecutive days. After 14 days, visitors must move their camp more than five road-miles away from the site they last occupied, and may only return to the original site after 21 days, according to the release.

The release stated that the USDA Forest Service continues to assess and temporarily suspend access tor recreation areas that attract large crowds and cannot meet social distancing guidelines recommended by the CDC.

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