This weekend is expected to bring sunny warm weather along with Mother's Day, and park visitors must recreate responsibly in order to keep our parks and trails open during this ongoing health crisis. In alignment with Governor Jay Inslee's revised order signed May 4, Bellingham's parks and trails are open, but facilities other than park restrooms remain closed. Gathering is not permitted and social distancing is required.
While Governor Inslee's “Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order is being extended to the end of May, his “Safe Start" plan amends some components of the original order and allows for a start to re-open the state, including certain outdoor recreation activities.
The order allows, with strict restrictions, fishing, hunting, boating, hiking and golf. The Lake Padden golf course opened May 5, with careful monitoring and protocols in place to ensure safety. The boat launch at Bloedel-Donovan Park is also open and the Aquatic Invasive Species team will be there to perform required inspections that help ensure the safety of our community's drinking water.
Phase 1 of the "Safe Start" plan, which took effect Tuesday, May 5th, does not change how Bellingham is currently managing City parks and trails. Park Ambassadors are monitoring parks 7 days a week, to ensure groups are not gathering, picnicking, sunbathing, playing sports or using closed park amenities.
“Please keep moving, enjoy the sunshine and fresh air, then go home," is the common refrain the Park Ambassadors use when interacting with park visitors.
If you arrive at a park or trail and see that it is crowded and social distancing will be challenging, please leave and try another location or come back later. Please don't add to congested areas - crowded parks could lead to closed parks. Some parking in large parks will continue to be closed.
Please limit the time you spend so more people can safely enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. Try to visit alone or with people in your household only. Park Ambassadors will be out to educate and greet park visitors, so don't be alarmed if one of our staff approaches you to kindly remind visitors of guidelines so we can keep our parks open and available for our community.
"It is imperative that we remain disciplined and follow the phased approach outlined by the Governor's order," said Nicole Oliver, Interim Parks & Recreation Department director. “In addition to monitoring park use now, we are making plans to open additional popular amenities when Phase 2 of the Governor's plan is reached. But we will only reach the next phase if we are disciplined now and keep up all our efforts to help prevent the spread of COVID-19."
Oliver added that Phase 2 of the Governor's "Safe Start" plan allows 5 people to gather and play, which could enable activities like disc golf, pickleball, dog off-leash parks, and bike parks to reopen.
She also added the reminder that all large organized and permitted events and activities in Bellingham are cancelled through August 30th.
Please visit www.cob.org/parks for maps and additional information.