DON’T BE GROUND ZERO
Many of my colleagues in the recreation advocacy/management profession have been working hard to encourage and inspire motorized and non-motorized trail enthusiasts to follow the “Stay at Home” directives being issued by local, state, and federal authorities to help Flatten the Curve of Covid-19 infections.
As you know, our frontline healthcare workers and 1st responders place themselves in harm’s way every day to take care of a compounding number of very sick and/or critically ill Covid-19 patients. Many of them are asked to work long hours with limited amounts of PPE.
Rural government officials including a number of sheriffs and county supervisors are asking visitors to honor those stay at home orders and postpone your backcountry adventures until the nation gets a handle on the Covid-19 crisis.
Here are a couple of reasons for those requests.
DON’T BRING THE VIRUS TO WHERE WE LIVE – With an apparent large number of infected people being asymptomatic (showing no sign of any disease), why would trail enthusiasts want to be the “ground zero” for introducing the coronavirus to our friends, healthcare workers, and law enforcement officials who live and work in largely uninfected rural areas of the country?
DON’T TAKE NON-ESSENTIAL OUTDOOR RISKS - Trail enthusiasts of all persuasions understand that participation in the sport comes with inherent risks. Many of those injuries are critical and can require medical evacuation to a hospital where you will unnecessarily place yourself and others in danger of infection or require hospital staff – who are already maxed out taking care of Covid-19 patients – to address your self-inflicted injuries. If you get lost, the local Search and Rescue may not be able to respond due to staffing shortages.
There is a growing consensus in the outdoor recreation advocacy corps that the best short-term advice is for us to avoid traveling long distances to recreate but rather utilize local opportunities to get some fresh air and exercise while practicing social distancing.
Responsible recreation means that we have an obligation to be good stewards and show respect for other trail users and our land management partners. Part of that responsibility is to respect temporary unit closures.
When the Covid-19 book is written, let’s hope the recreation community is credited for doing its part to Flatten the Curve vs. being cited as the “Ground Zero” infector of a rural community.
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