Camping

The Forest Service has shut down developed recreation sites — including campgrounds — to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

National forests throughout Arizona have shut down developed recreation sites, including campgrounds to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The Tonto National Forest began the closure of developed recreation sites on Monday, March 23. The developed recreation site closures will remain in effect until further notice.

People can still hike and camp outside of the developed sites.

Forest rangers urge people to avoid high-risk activities, such as rock climbing, to reduce the potential need for search and rescue operations, which have been limited by COVID-19.

Campers should also plan to take home their own trash “appropriately managing human waste by burying it at least 6-8 inches deep and 200 feet away from water, trails and recreation sites.”

Apache-Sitgreaves Forest Supervisor Antony Madrid said, “We know how much our communities and our visitors value the recreational opportunities the national forests have to offer. This decision was not made lightly, but we believe people understand the serious risks posed by facilities that draw large numbers of people into close proximity with each other.”

The developed recreation site closures will remain in effect until May 1, 2020, although the Forest Service will base the reopening on the situation with the virus.

All Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests offices are conducting business and providing services online to comply with federal, state and local guidance.

For tips from the CDC on preventing illnesses such as the coronavirus, visit its website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html.

Contact the writer at paleshire@payson.com

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