There’s lots of room to spread out at the 56 state parks within Tennessee.
That’s the message from the Tennessee State Parks system during the coronavirus update.
“Basically our mission at this time is to provide a safe place for people to have an outlet in these hard times that are so stressful,” says Samantha Cox, a park ranger at Shelby Forest State Park.
Of course, people can still come in contact with one another in wide open spaces — or within the bathrooms and visitor centers. But Jim Bryson, deputy commissioner with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, says the parks are taking precautions, including limiting the number of people allowed in a facility at one time.
“We also have really increased our expectations around cleanliness — cleaning surfaces and other places that people might touch — much, much more often,” he says.
Bryson says TDEC is monitoring the situation quote “hour by hour” and will shut down visitor centers or bathrooms if necessary, but people need their public lands more than ever, he says.
“I think it’s really beneficial for our state that we have a system of state parks that people can go out into,” he says. “They can get into nature, and they can become refreshed, and let a little bit of that worry, let it go.”
All parks are free to enter, and there’s one located within an hour of every Tennessee resident.
Katie Riordan of WKNO in Memphis reported this story.