CADILLAC – In alignment with current federal, state and local guidance for social distancing and to ensure health safety of its employees, visitors and volunteers, the Hiawatha, Huron-Manistee and Ottawa National Forests are shutting down developed recreation facilities and restrooms, as well as suspending trash pick-up indefinitely effective Friday, April 10.

In addition, on the Hiawatha and Ottawa, all overnight use is shut down and no campfires are allowed, in order to minimize the risk to first responders in the event of wildfire.

When you recreate, keep in mind 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.

• Make arrangements to use the restroom before or after your visit to the forest. Unmanaged waste creates a health hazard for employees and for other visitors.

• If an area is crowded, search for a less occupied location. Also consider avoiding the forest during high-use periods

The U.S. Forest Service (USFS)asks the public to recreate responsibly. Law enforcement and/or search and rescue operations may be limited due to COVID-19 issues. High-risk activities such as rock climbing, etc. or backcountry activities that increase your chance of injury or distress should be avoided. Remember to pack-out what you pack-in.

“We are committed to the health and safety of recreational visitors and our staff,” said Chris Frederick, acting forest supervisor on the Huron-Manistee National Forest. “We are following the guidelines from our department and the CDC regarding COVID-19, closely monitoring the situation and responding to current conditions.”

The USFS said as it works through an unpredictable and rapidly changing situation, health and safety is its number one priority. The USFS also said it is committed to continuing to support our communities and fulfill its mission as we all work together to minimize the impacts and spread of COVID-19.

The USFS also encourages visitors to follow public health guidelines regarding social distancing while they recreate in national forests. Visitors to national forests are urged to take the precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

For more information on the status of national forest recreation sites, visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/hmnf, call 231-775-2421 or email SM.FS.HMNF@usda.gov.

For tips from the CDC on preventing illnesses like the coronavirus, go to https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html.