State Parks curtail parking in hopes of minimizing COVID-19 spread |

State Parks curtail parking in hopes of minimizing COVID-19 spread

Elias Funez
Special to the Sierra Sun
Signage lets folks know of the Sierra District California State Park parking lot closures intended to help discourage large groups of people gathering in high traffic places.


Parking closures within the Sierra District include:

Empire Mine SHP ­— All parking areas within Empire Mine SHP with the exception of the Penn Gate Parking Area.

South Yuba SRA — All parking areas within South Yuba SRA with the exception of State Park land located in the areas of Purdon and Edwards crossings.

Kings Beach SRA — All parking areas within Kings Beach SRA to include the Bear Street entrance, Coon Street entrance, as well as the North Tahoe Beach parking lot.

Ed Z’Berg Sugar Pine Point SP — All parking areas within Sugar Pine Point SP.

Emerald Bay SP — The Emerald Bay SP Vikingholm parking lot.

(No parking restrictions at Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park.)

With more and more parks being shut down due to coronavirus concerns, record numbers of people are turning out to parks that have remained open, including Nevada County’s Empire Mine State Historic Park and South Yuba River recreation areas.

While the county’s state parks remain open, California State Parks Sierra District Superintendent Matthew Green on Saturday morning ordered the closure of high traffic parking areas due to health and safety concerns, including at Empire Mine and the South Yuba River parks.

“We’re trying to limit the possibility of larger groups gathering,” Ranger Marc Wetherbee said. “Last week, people were not heeding the stay-at-home order.”

While Gov. Newsom’s order does allow for people to get out and exercise, rangers like Wetherbee see issues with social distancing while on narrow trails such as Buttermilk Bend near the Bridgeport Bridge, which can become crowded during the spring wildflower blooms.

“There’s a lot of single-track trails,” Wetherbee said. “But I’m seeing a lot more people hiking along the dirt roads near Rice’s Crossing.”

Dirt roads are wider and allow for better social distancing when encountering people along the paths. Signs giving people tips on recreating safely at the parks have also been posted in English and Spanish.

Those visiting parks are asked: not to gather in groups or at picnic tables; stay more than 6 feet apart from folks hiking, walking, jogging, or biking; and to bring hand soap or sanitizer along with them.

Elias Funez is the Multimedia Reporter for The Union, a sister publication to the Sierra Sun. To contact him, email, or call 530-477-4230.

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