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How to Practice Responsible Outdoor Recreation in New York State

Nov 02nd, 2020

How to Practice Responsible Outdoor
Recreation in New York State

Aug 19, 2020 by Richard Martin

New York State offers many activities for those wanting to get outdoors and enjoy nature. From hiking trails to beaches to picnic areas with a view, there’s something for everyone. It is up to all visitors to help maintain these beautiful outdoor spaces, as well as to ensure the safety of others. Here are the important things to remember when heading out into the great outdoors in New York State! 

Plan Ahead for a Smoother Outdoor Adventure

The key to a fun excursion is to plan ahead! Planning a hike? Trail maps, sturdy shoes, a water bottle, snacks like trail mix, and an extra bag for trash removal are essential. Going camping? Besides making a list of equipment and provisions that you’ll need, check the weather, and if you’re planning on staying on New York State public lands, reserve and read guidelines at Reserve America. For backcountry camping, familiarize yourself with state rules and regulations.

Help Keep New York State Outdoor Spaces Clean and Beautiful

New York has it all, from scenic hiking trails to stunning waterfalls to mountain peaks. To keep these attractions and the land around them pristine, everyone has to do their part. Especially now, when there may not be as many resources available as usual, such as waste disposal bins or maintenance staff. It’s important to look for signs at park or recreation area entrances and be mindful of regulations such as staying on trails.

Carry In/Carry Out

New York’s outdoors have given so much to so many during the COVID-19 crisis. Please give back by not leaving anything behind. It’s important not to litter and you need to be prepared to bring everything home with you. For more guidance on how to respect the outdoors, familiarize yourself with the Leave No Trace Seven Principles.

Stay Local

To help contain community spread of COVID-19, New Yorkers have practiced a “Stay Local” philosophy, visiting outdoor recreation areas as close to home as possible. New York has a travel advisory in effect, which requires visitors from certain states to quarantine for 14 days upon entering New York State. The stewards of New York’s public lands have created helpful guides and tools to help visitors travel responsibly, including the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Play Smart*Play Safe*Play Local campaign and the New York State Parks Explorer App, which has up-to-the-minute updates on park information including when parks are at capacity. 

Make a Backup Plan

Given the demand for outdoor recreation, the parking lots at trailheads, in parks, and elsewhere fill up quickly. Don’t head out with only one destination in mind—have a backup plan with alternative places to visit if your first choice is at capacity. When you encounter a full parking lot, don’t park illegally on the road; simply move on to your next options until you find a place to safely and responsibly park your vehicle.

Practice COVID-19 Safety

Even in the great outdoors, social distancing must be practiced at this time. Bring a mask and use it when it’s not possible to maintain at least six feet of distance from others not in your party. Let others pass on trails if necessary. When visiting a beach, make sure your blanket is at least 10 feet from others. And remember, if you’re not feeling well, stay home. 

For ideas on where to go, visit Safe Outdoor Activities in New York State.

Author: Richard Martin

Richard Martin is the Managing Editor of

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