The importance of opening campgrounds

By Dyana Kelley, President of the CampCalNOW RV Park and Campground Alliance

Editor’s note: Dyana Kelley, president of the CampCalNOW RV Park and Campground Alliance sent the following letter to Plumas County supervisors, Public Health officers Andrew Woodruff and Dr. Mark Satterfield, and Congressman LaMalfa. We are printing it here with her permission.

CampCalNOW RV Park and Campground Alliance in coordination with the private RV parks and campgrounds of Plumas County, and Hytropy Disaster Management ask for your consideration of our proposal to provide a safe alternative for outdoor recreation. While our parks are limiting their current reservations to essential travel, we are noticing a considerable amount of irresponsible leisure travel and would like to assist the county by providing a responsible way for consumers to recreate.

For reference, private RV parks and campgrounds have been deemed essential from the beginning of the stay at home order due to the lodging nature of the parks. Private parks differ from your standard campground on many levels. The first of which is that they are regulated through Housing and Community Development (HCD) and are considered a Special Occupancy Park or a version of a Mobile Home Park. Most parks have an element of permanent or extended stay residents, and they provide safety, security, and shelter for the 1 million full-time RVers on the road all year. Additionally, private parks have a long-standing relationship with the traveling medical community. Most traveling nurses and doctors prefer the sanctity of their own space rather than spending six months in a hotel and our parks have been available to the community for many years prior to COVID-19.

The past few weekends Plumas County, as well as many areas in the state, faced a similar challenge of displaced and somewhat irresponsible recreators. Reports of dispersed or boondock camping along with non-permitted campfires, RVers dumping tanks on the roadside, and an almost endless stream of garbage left behind. I myself witnessed an RVer camping on the roadside with the slide out impeding traffic. Conversations with fire officials in an adjoining county indicated their frustration and concern over the serious impact this will have on county public spaces and sited a serious concern for fire season with recreators camping outside of campgrounds.

Data from the North American Camping Report provided by KOA shows that consumers tend to camp within a 100-mile radius of their primary residence. Private RV parks capture consumer data during the registration process that we can use to help enforce any measures put in place by the state regarding interstate or intrastate travel and further reduce the spread of virus. The county has assumed the risk of injury when residents both within and outside of the county began to recreate. Allowing campers to recreate inside of a campground poses no greater threat than what is already occurring. In fact, some counties have been more concerned about negligence when a solution was available.

We recognize and fully respect the stay at home mandate set forth by Governor Newsom however, we also recognize that it is the nature of California residents to desire a connection with the vast open spaces and beautiful natural landscape that is unique to our state. Recreation in nature is an essential to the mental and physical health and wellness of our residents. Providing alternatives in a controlled environment would allow consumers the ability to enjoy nature while also practicing social distancing and following CDC guidelines. To ensure further safety protocols CampCalNOW has partnered with Hytropy Disaster Management to provide all parks with a COVID-19 Preparedness Response Plan and Disaster Hawk app.

Additionally, we offer the following attached guidelines as an opportunity to discuss protocols and recommendations by the county in order for special occupancy parks to provide a reasonable and responsible service while at the same time protecting those who reside with county boundaries.

The guidelines:

We understand the COVID-19 virus will remain a viable threat for the foreseeable future, so individuals must take upon themselves the responsibility to restrict their daily movements as much as possible to essential, common sense movements to allow for necessary work, sustenance, and recreation to maintain physical, mental & economic health. Outdoor lakes and recreation areas are an excellent location to restore & maintain both physical & mental health if done responsibly.

Therefore, the following requirements must be in place in order for special occupancy parks to remain open:

  • Visitors should maintain a social distancing of six feet or more from another person not part of their household.
  • Visitors should use good hand hygiene with frequent hand washing with soap and water or use of hand sanitizer. For this reason, hand sanitizer stations have been installed throughout the park at every restroom and in common public locations.
  • Visitors must stay home when having symptoms concerning for COVID-19 including fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath.
  • Visitors must wear facial coverings when social distancing is not achievable. For this reason, facial coverings will be required when in the park store or in lines for showers, etc. When outdoors and social distancing is easily accomplished, then they are not required, but must be carried in case visitors encounter any situation where social distancing cannot easily be accomplished.
  • Social gatherings of more than ten (10) persons are prohibited unless all are from the same household.
  • Visitors who are more vulnerable are advised not to leave their homes. Although recreational activities are permitted reasons to leave their homes, they are advised to use added caution in their leaving their homes due to their increased risk of severe illness if exposed to COVID-19. These people included all persons age 65 or older and/or living with chronic medical issues that place them at increased risk as noted by the CDC.
  • Plumas County parks are taking many operational measures to increase sanitation of commonly used facilities and to reduce social distancing throughout the park. Some operational rules have also changed to support and encourage this same goal:
  • Park staff will adhere to the COVID-19 Operations Protocol, which will be publicly posted at the park office. This protocol outlines the added measures taken to protect staff and visitors in addition to our normal operating procedures.   This protocol may change over time as the various issues arise and/or recede with this virus.
  • Pre-trip messaging of protocols and expectations
  • On site messaging of protocols and expectations modeled and articulated by all staff interacting with guests.
  • Online and contact free check in to streamline check in process and reduce congestion in park office.
  • Maximum number allowed per campsite will be limited to 6 people from the same household (including children).
  • No group or club camping.
  • Common areas closed until further notice.

We will do our part to increase efforts to reduce the spread of this virus. We ask the county of Plumas to consider special occupancy parks a vital service of outdoor recreation.

 

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