County Update 14 COVID-19, Trails, Parks, Dogs
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County Update 14 on COVID-19, Trails, Parks, Dogs and COVID-19
Posted on 04/07/2020

Los Alamos County would like to remind residents using County parks, trails and other open spaces of the importance of maintaining social distancing within these areas as much as possible. Mass gatherings are still prohibited as outlined in the State of New Mexico’s executive order. No more than five individuals should be gathered in parks or using trails. County Parks’ crews have installed signage about social distancing and mass gatherings in parks.

“Voluntary compliance with the executive order will help us keep our parks open for all to enjoy,” said Beverley Simpson, Emergency Manager, “at a time when other counties are closing parks, we would like to be able to keep ours available. We understand the need for residents to get outside and enjoy some fresh air, but we need to follow the Governor’s orders, too.”

Residents are also reminded that County Code, Chapter 6 regarding Animals states that animals that are off the owner’s premises need to be on a leash (Section 6.3). The ordinance is available on this link on LAPD’s Animal Control page.   

“When taking an animal for a walk in a neighborhood, keep your dog on a leash,” Simpson said, “We are noticing an increase in the number of residents out and about while walking dogs, and that can provide more opportunities for interactions between dogs and individuals than we might typically experience.”

The County does have provisions for “voice and sight control” for dogs to be off-leash (Section 6.4) in designated areas. Maps showing these areas are available on the County’s Animal Control webpage.

Simpson encouraged residents to review the information pertaining to the Animal Control ordinance, as well as information about County trails.

“As with our neighborhoods and parks, we are seeing an increase in the number of people using some of our most popular trails,” Simpson said, “Be courteous to others hiking, biking, or horseback riding and maintain that social distance of six feet. Be alert to what’s going on around you.”

She stressed the need to be safe on trails, too.

“It’s important to stay safe, especially if you are new to hiking or new to the County and unfamiliar with the trail,” she said, “Keep our public safety responders available to respond to the needs caused by the pandemic and other true emergencies instead of conducting search and rescue operations in our canyons. If hiking is a new adventure for you, start out slowly and only hike short distances on well-known trails rather than traveling trails that cross into remote areas of the forest or canyons.”

Other helpful trail hiking tips: 

  • Stay on marked trails, know your limitations and your route.
  • Avoid hiking in the heat of the day
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Use sunscreen
  • Bring snacks
  • Wear a hat and appropriate footwear
  • Remember that cell phone coverage may not be available for navigation or summoning help—consider other options and carry a map

The County offers a trails network map and individual trail maps for some of the more frequently used trails, available to download.

For those unable to print the maps at home, a limited number of printed trails network maps and individual trail maps are available for the public to pick up in the literature rack located in the west vestibule of the Municipal Building, although travel to that building or other travel around the County that is not absolutely necessary is being discouraged during the “stay at home” order.

“Getting outside to get some exercise is good for you physically and mentally,” Simpson said, “But it’s critical that we all follow the rules that are in place during the COVID-19 emergency. Doing so will allow us to keep access open to these community assets. Let’s work together and cooperate, so that everyone can continue to enjoy our parks and trails.”

Simpson reminded the public that the County posts COVID-19 updates on the County’s website and encouraged residents to check the Pandemic and Coronavirus website daily for new posts.