State parks remain open, adapt to COVID-19


GARRETSON, S.D. (KELO) — While many places are closed due to COVID-19, South Dakota’s State Parks remain open.

The state parks are open, and for the time being, they’re free of charge.

“Our Governor has waived the entrance fee requirement to our parks. So folks can come in and use our parks for free right now, through May 2nd,” Regional Park Supervisor Jeff VanMeeteren said.

“You know having no fee, it’s nice, it’s nice. It’s bringing people, getting people outdoors that may typically not visit the parks,” District Park Supervisor Luke Dreckman.

The parks department is busy preparing for the summer season, but is doing so with a reduced staff.

“We’re not bringing on our seasonal, and our volunteers that help us, which are a significant part of our workforce at this time. So something may not get done as quickly as you’d normally expect, we ask for people’s patience,” Regional Park Supervisor Jeff VanMeeteren said.

Cabin and lodge reservations already made will be honored, though the department isn’t taking anymore through the end of April. The park offices will remain closed, as will fish cleaning stations, and the comfort station bathrooms.

“They’re just a place where too many people would come in and out of. We don’t have the staff to effectively clean those,” VanMeeteren said.

But their vault restrooms will remain open.

“There’s hand sanitizer available in those, there is no water in those as well though,” Dreckman said. said.

While the situation is fluid, the department hopes by following the CDC guidelines, they can remain open.

“If folks can do that social distancing, it’s really our hope that we can offer these facilities, and keep them open, Van Meeteren said.

The department asks for visitors to come in groups with less than 10 people, and keep 6 feet away from each other while in the parks. For more information click here.

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