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Trees line the road at Tyler State Park Wednesday Aug. 23, 2017. Tyler State Park offers various events such as birding, geocaching, dutch oven cooking and nature hikes. The park also offers overnight camping, day use areas, swimming, biking trails, fishing and boat rentals. (Sarah A. Miller/Tyler Morning Telegraph)

Gov. Greg Abbott has announced the closure of all state parks and historic sites to strengthen social distancing practices and prevent large gatherings.

He directed the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission to close both parks and historical sites the public at 5 p.m. Tuesday. The facilities will reopen at Abbott’s direction.

“Social distancing is our best tool to curb the spread of COVID-19 and save lives,” Abbott said. “The temporary closure of our state parks and historic sites will help us achieve this goal by preventing the gathering of large groups of people. I urge all Texans to continue to stay at home except for essential services as we respond to COVID-19. By following these social distance practices, we will overcome this challenge together.”

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is following the latest public health recommendations, according to a statement from TPWD.

“Given the myriad of challenges and heightened risks of operating the parks at this time, we believe this is the best course of action right now in order to meet the health and safety expectations the state has set out for the citizens of Texas,” Carter Smith, TPWD executive director, said. “All state parks will remain temporarily closed until public health and safety conditions improve. During the closure, staff will continue to steward and care for the parks to ensure they can be immediately reopened to visitors at the appropriate time.”

TPWD will promote safe ways near home to engage in outdoor recreational activities, such as hunting, fishing, biking, jogging, walking, hiking and wildlife viewing, Smith said.

Prior to the closure, TPWD officials implemented measures to restrict visitor use to lower the transmission of the coronavirus. Due to challenges in ensuring social distancing, maintaining adequate supplies and keeping facilities sanitized, TPWD reached a point of public safety taking precedence over continued operations, according to the news release.

Despite being closed to the public, the staff at the state parks will work to maintain standard upkeep, maintenance, stewardship and regular cleaning of site facilities. The Texas State Parks Customer Service Center is contacting customers with upcoming overnight reservations to reimburse their booking.

For questions about the state park reservations email customer.service@tpwd.texas.gov and for general park information go to TexasStateParks.org.

Reporter

I came to the Tyler Morning Telegraph in September 2019. I report on crime, courts, breaking news and various events in Tyler and East Texas.

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