As we all know, the Trump administration isn’t the best thing that’s happened to parks in this country. Some might say even that’s an understatement. Nonetheless, even it can manage to do some good things for parks every now and then. We’re talking about the marvelous new social distancing posters being rolled out by the National Park Service (NPS).
The posters have an important mission: promote social distancing in parks during the covid-19 pandemic, reduce the spread of disease in parks, and promote virtual opportunities and experiences at parks. To be fair, the posters have been around for a few weeks now, but these gems clearly haven’t received the attention they deserve.
Apart from being very pretty and colorful, the NPS posters are full of good advice for people looking to visit parks. For instance, they remind people to “recreate responsibly” and stay six feet away from each other. This means that people must be prepared to cover their noses and mouths if they’re near others. They also remind park visitors to know their limits during these times and to postpone challenging hikes or new activities while first responders, parks and communities continue to concentrate on responding to the pandemic.
Some of the advice on the posters is also pretty funny. My personal favorite is the advice on the NPS’ “Social Distancing Practices Chart,” which kindly reminds people to please not “use slower friends as bear bait.” I must admit though, the icon used for that phrase is quite vicious.
On April 25, Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, head of the NPS’ parent agency, said that the Department of the Interior and the NPS were working to reopen national parks as quickly as possible in accordance with the Trump administration’s guidelines to open up the country.
However, a majority of lands run by the NPS have remained open during the pandemic. Per the Guardian, at the beginning of April, 284 of the 419 units in the national park system were fully or partially open to visitors. In March, the NPS said outdoor spaces that could adhere to social distancing guidance from federal, state and local authorities would remain open to the public.
Some NPS employees on the front lines have disagreed with the agency’s decision to leave some parks open, saying that it was irresponsible because it helped propagate the spread of the virus.
You can find all of the NPS’ great posters below and download them at its website.