MISSOULA — The first day of summer is quickly approaching and area parks are getting busier as temperatures warm up and the Missoula Parks and Recreation Department wants the community to stay safe when heading outdoors.
With very few exceptions, all Parks & Rec facilities -- including playgrounds, picnic areas, and restrooms -- are open to the public.
The parks department has been working closely with the Missoula City-County Health Department during the COVID-19 pandemic, establishing guidelines they are asking the community to follow as they recreate.
“Don’t come to a park or any public facility if you’re not feeling well or have any of the symptoms," advised Missoula Parks and Recreation Department Director Donna Gaukler. "We encourage people to bring their own products, if you will, bring your own bottle of water for drinking, hand cleaner, bring sanitizer, go ahead and bring a picnic cloth.”
These guidelines go hand-in-hand with what the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is advising.
The summer season brings an influx of requests for reserving sheltered picnic, team, and birthday party areas. Gaukler says this year, larger groups will need to take an extra step during state-mandated Phase 2 restrictions.
“We will continue to take shelter reservations, we have been, as well as special event permits," said Gaukler. "Depending on the size of the group, particularly once you get over a group of fifty, you will have to develop a plan for staying safe.”
One big draw for kids, city park splash decks, are set to open on Monday, June 22. The same social distancing rules that apply to all other park attractions are also in place for these water areas.
Gaukler says they are doing all they can do on their end, but ultimately, it’s up to those recreating to follow the guidelines set forth by the department.
“We are inspecting parks for safety like we always do, know that there is no guarantee that we can keep you safe, you are the most critical piece of that staying safe," she told MTN News.”
Gaukler believes there isn’t a better place to be than enjoying the outdoors during the warm summer months, and she believes the community will do a great job of taking the necessary precautions to keep themselves and others safe.
More information can be found on the Missoula Parks and Recreation website.