As Washington’s parks and public lands begin to re-open for recreation, the Surfrider Foundation is urging the public to continue to honor stay-at-home orders, practice physical distancing, and avoid any crowded public spaces, including State Parks on the outer coast and Columbia River Gorge, Olympic Coast National Park and coastal Tribal Reservations (which are still closed at the time of this writing). Stay-at-home orders specifically allow for exercise as an essential activity. As such, Surfrider supports getting outside close to home and recreating responsibly for mental and physical well-being. We love the beach and surfing as much as anyone and we look forward to returning to the water in socially responsible ways. 

The good news is that our individual and collective actions over the past 2 months have helped to save lives in Washington. As areas open back up, recreating responsibly with the arrival of warmer weather will help to prevent further outbreak that could set us back. Below are some best practices to be mindful of in the coming weeks as we practice some self care and get some necessary exercise.

Surfrider Foundation also recently assembled a national expert task force to address whether and how to allow access to the beach during the COVID-19 pandemic.  This issue requires consideration of many important factors, which is why we assembled a team of highly accomplished experts in public health, coastal management, environmental justice, and public policy to guide the Beach Access during COVID-19 Guidance report. 

#RecreateResponsibly Coalition Forms in Washington: The Recreate Responsibly Coalition is a newly formed coalition of nonprofits, outdoor businesses, and land managers developing and sharing best practices to protect each other and our natural landscapes. They are a diverse community brought together by our love of the outdoors and a desire to help everyone experience the benefits of nature safely during this public health crisis. Surfrider Foundation in Washington is proud to be a member of the Recreate Responsibly coalition representing ocean and coastal recreational users, learn more and check out the toolkit of information at: https://www.recreateresponsibly.org/

When you choose to recreate responsibly, you are doing your part to keep yourself and others safe and healthy. No one wants to see our parks, trails, and beaches re-closed, and we can all do our part to take care of each other and these places so we can maintain access. We all have a shared responsibility to care for these places and ensure they remain for future generations to enjoy. Lead by example and join us in learning how to #RecreateResponsibly 

Helpful links for more information: (We will try to keep this post updated as new info becomes available, check the source below before you go)

Washington State Parks– many day use parks re-opened as of May 5th, but many still remain closed, notably on the outer coast and Columbia River Gorge.

Department of Natural Resources– most day use areas re-opened as of May 5th, all camping areas remain closed.

Olympic Coast National Park– All areas within the Olympic National Park remain closed at this time, pending further notice.

Tribal Reservations on the outer coast– Closed to the general public at least thru June 30th.

Coastal Counties– check the individual websites for more detailed info on which parks and access points are open/closed.

Now is a great time to go for a solo paddle along a coastline near where you live!

The Olympic Peninsula is a special place, let’s keep it that way… The Olympic Peninsula Chapter recently published a beach access and camping guide to the Olympic Peninsula in efforts to promote best practices and #PROTECTaccess. As Summer is getting near and many areas begin to open back up, this info and guidance will be key to preserving access for the enjoyment of all for years to come. Many beaches that you are welcome to explore are managed by the tribes, the county, and the state. However, access to beaches that are privately owned are granted by the permission of the private landowners. These spots are unique in both their ecological offerings and the partnership between the stewards and the visitors to these places, THAT INCLUDES YOU.