April 8, 2020 434 PM
FAR WEST TEXAS – The National Park Service announced that effective 8:30 a.m., Friday, April 3, Big Bend National Park and Rio Grande Wild & Scenic River will be closed to all visitors until further notice in response to letters from the Brewster County and Texas State Health Services departments. On Tuesday, Governor Greg Abbott ordered all state parks closed.
At the national park, no entry will be allowed into the park, except to employees, residents, and other authorized persons. Through-traffic will be prohibited, as will travel on Terlingua Ranch Road within park boundaries.
The health and safety of employees, residents, volunteers, partners and park visitors at Big Bend National Park is the service’s number one priority, according to their statement. The NPS is working servicewide with federal, state and local authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The National Park Service listened to the concerns from our local partners and, based on current health guidance, temporarily closed the parks,” said Big Bend National Park Superintendent Bob Krumenaker. “We are committed to continued close coordination with our state and local partners as we progress through this closure period and are prepared when the timing is right to reopen as quickly and safely as possible.”
For state parks, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) will continue to stay current with the latest public health recommendations and will announce when a definite reopening date has been determined.
“Given the myriad of challenges and heightened risks of operating the parks at this time, we believe this is the best course of action right now in order to meet the health and safety expectations the state has set out for the citizens of Texas,” said Carter Smith, Executive Director of TPWD. “All state parks will remain temporarily closed until public health and safety conditions improve. During the closure, staff will continue to steward and care for the parks to ensure they can be immediately reopened to visitors at the appropriate time.”
Outdoor recreational opportunities such as hunting, fishing, biking, jogging, walking, hiking, wildlife viewing, and the like are essential activities for Texas citizens. TPWD will continue to do its part to actively encourage and promote these opportunities in ways that are safe and close to home, said Smith.
Despite the implementation of increasingly restrictive visitor use measures to help minimize the transmission of COVID-19 at parks, TPWD has reached a point where public safety considerations of those in the parks, and in the surrounding communities, must take precedence over continued operations. Difficulty in ensuring compliance with social distancing, problems in maintaining adequate supplies and keeping park facilities sufficiently sanitized are only a few of the challenges encountered by state park staff.
The National Parks Service encourages people to take advantage of the many digital tools already available to explore Big Bend National Park and Rio Grande Wild & Scenic River including: www.nps.gov/bibe, www.nps.gov/rigr, park photo galleries, webcam, Bravo Y Grande Film and Facebook.
Updates about the NPS response to coronavirus will be posted at www.nps.gov/coronavirus. Please visit www.nps.gov/bibe for specific details and regular updates on Big Bend National Park operations. The NPS will notify the public when full operations resume via the park website and social media channels.