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ANF furthers restrictions due to coronavirus

The Allegheny National Forest has extended its closures and restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday, forest officials announced that all overnight camping, all fires, and groups of more than 10 people are prohibited on the forest.

“In alignment with current federal, state, and local guidance for social distancing and to ensure the health and safety of its employees, visitors, and volunteers, the Allegheny National Forest has issued a closure order to prohibit all fires, overnight camping, and mandating a group-size limitation of 10 people or less per group across the entire forest effective April 6,” according to a Wednesday release from Public Affairs Officer Christopher Warner.

“I did not make this decision lightly,” Allegheny National Forest Supervisor Jamie Davidson said. “As we work through an unpredictable and rapidly changing situation, health and safety is our number one priority. We are proactive in aligning with Governor Wolf’s executive Stay-at-Home order and will continue to fulfill our mission to minimize the impacts and spread of COVID-19.”

Included in this closure order, the Allegheny National Forest has temporarily shut down all developed recreation sites, restrooms, and facilities.

“Allegheny sites impacted by the prohibitions related to fire, group size and overnight camping include:

— All developed campgrounds;

— All cabins;

— Dispersed (roadside and backcountry camping) camping; and

— All toilet facilities.”

“Other recreation opportunities on Allegheny National Forest, such as fishing, kayaking and canoeing on the Allegheny Reservoir, Allegheny and Clarion rivers, hiking, and backpacking remain available to the public,” Warner said. “To protect public health and safety, all visitors to the Forest are encouraged to:

— Avoid visiting the forest if you are sick and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms;

–Follow CDC guidance on personal hygiene and social distancing before and during your visit to the Forest;

–Take your trash with you when you leave. Trash overflowing the receptacles becomes litter and can be harmful to wildlife and attract predators;

–Please make arrangements to use the restroom before or after your visit to the forest. Also, please clean up after pets. Unmanaged waste creates a health hazard for our employees and for other visitors;

–If an area is crowded, please search for a less occupied location. Also consider avoiding the forest during high-use periods; and

–Avoid activities that put you at greater risk of injury, as there is limited staff to assist.”

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