HEFLIN — Recreation areas in Cleburne County have either been scaled back or closed altogether due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Ryan Shurette, interim district ranger for the Shoal Creek District of the Talladega National Forest, said that as of Thursday, four popular facilities have been shuttered due to the virus.
Coleman Lake, Warden Station Horse Camp, Henry Creek shooting range and the Pine Glen campground have been closed until further notice, according to Shurette.
“Those were the facilities that have a high likelihood of congregating people and shared facilities there like the bathhouses and the garbage cans that people are touching, we just want to mitigate the risk of folks getting exposed,” said Shurette.
Shurette said that all the hiking trails, forest roads, horse trails, and hunting and fishing will still be open in the Talladega National Forest.
“We’re being told to remind the public that it’s just a temporary suspension of these facilities, we’re not closing down for good by any means,” said Shurette.
Shurette also said that the regional office has suspended all prescribed burning across the southern region including the Talladega National Forest.
Timber and vegetation management will continue, as will maintenance of equipment for any possible wildfires that can pop up as conditions get drier, said Shurette.
At Cheaha State Park, Renee Raney, park superintendent, in a written statement listed the following attractions and facilities as closed:
— Walt Farr Museum
— CCC Museum
— Bunker Tower
— Alexander Activities Building
— Bald Rock group lodge
— Imagination Tree Playground
— Public restrooms; however, portable restrooms are available and located at the Bald Rock Trail Head and in the Mountain Store parking lot
— Lake Cheaha recreation area (including beach, fishing trail, parking lot and group camping)
Raney said that the Vista Cliffside restaurant which had been offering curbside meals will close Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
Raney said the mountain store is operating reservations and retail sales from a service window and the facilities that are still open are:
— Upper improved campground
— Upper primitive campground
— Dog park
— All trails
Raney said the trying time everyone is enduring is temporary and, “we will get through this together.”
“We love our park guests. With the need for social distance, many folks are heading into parks for respite, peace of mind, and reconnections to nature. Here visitors will find plenty of natural space, fresh air, and dedicated public servants who are working hard to provide nature sanctuaries of escape to the guests and supporters we love,” Raney wrote.
Raney also wanted to remind visitors to the park that social distancing is a rule and not a suggestion, individuals must have 6 feet of space between them and all groups must be less than 10 people total.
Park admission is $5 per adult; $2 per senior citizen and child; Active Military/Veterans free with ID.