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Many Utah state parks back in business for all, Herbert says

By Amy Joi O'Donoghue, KSL | Posted - Apr. 18, 2020 at 7:59 a.m.



SALT LAKE CITY — Good news for fans of the 43 Utah state parks that have been open only to residents in the county where the parks are located: For the most part, they are now open for business.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert announced Friday that as the state tries to take fledgling steps to emerge from the sweeping effects of the coronavirus pandemic, outdoor recreation is one of the cures to help anxiety, depression and get people back to some normalcy in their lives.

“We have a lot of good news for you today,” he said, later adding: “It is not time to spike the football.”

Herbert qualified his statements to say that some parks remain under closure due to individual health department directives, which continue to enforce restrictions.

The Utah State Division of Parks and Recreation is working to create a map that will inform the public on what parks are open absent those directives.

Eugene Swalberg, parks spokesman, said park enthusiasts should think of an imaginary line that divides the eastern part of the state from the west.

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Those parks in the eastern side of the state are largely still under public health closure orders, while the west side parks don’t suffer those restrictions.

In those parks that will be opening to both Utah residents and those visiting from out of state, park officials will sanitize restroom facilities and other areas of necessity.

“We are cleaning them and disinfecting them more often and on a regular schedule,” he said.

Herbert also said he would like to work with the National Park Service to open Utah’s five national parks to Utah residents only, but when or how that would work remains unknown.

Utah state parks have been enjoying record visitation for the last few years, and state officials have added new attractions to make them even more popular, including a water park at Deer Creek and unique Conestoga wagons at East Canyon.

Swalberg said the coronavirus has amplified the important role these state park resources play.

“It is heartening to realize how important outdoor recreation is to everyone,” he said.

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