CRNRA 2 woman and dog hiking

A woman and her dog go for a hike at the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area.

While many are taking going outside to hike nature trails and paddle in rivers while practicing social distancing, the park units of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, including trail and river access, are closed to the public.

Also closing starting Sunday is Kennesaw’s Swift-Cantrell Park, according to a Facebook post from the city’s parks and recreation department.

The Chattahoochee National Recreation Area is closed as of Saturday for at least two weeks, in order to follow state and federal public health guidelines for the new coronavirus, the National Park Service reported in a release. In two weeks, officials will reassess the Chattahoochee River NRA to determine if it will reopen.

The group of park areas on the Chattahoochee River includes four units in or partially in Cobb County: Gold Branch, Johnson Ferry, Cochran Shoals and Palisades. It joins national park lands across the country, including White Sands National Park and Yosemite National Park, that have closed.

National Park Service spokeswoman Deborah Coble said the service is anticipating new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, though the guidance isn’t expected to involve closing parks.

“We are managing our parks based on guidance from the CDC. Our management decisions are based on guidance from the White House, the CDC, OPM, the Office of Personnel Management, and the Office of Public Health and Safety,” she said.

The closure comes after the National Parks Service announced Wednesday it would temporarily suspend the collection of all park entrance fees. According to an announcement on the NPS website, the service is taking “extraordinary steps” to follow federal, state and local guidance, though parks will remain open when possible. The NPS also urges park visitors to follow Leave No Trace principles as well as recommended precautions from the CDC.

“The National Park Service (NPS) is taking extraordinary steps to implement the latest guidance from state and local authorities, which support the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s (CDC) efforts to promote social distancing and slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The NPS is modifying operations, until further notice, for facilities and programs that cannot adhere to this guidance. Where it is possible to adhere to this guidance, outdoor spaces will remain open to the public and entrance-fee free,” part of the announcement reads.

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