W.Va. state park campgrounds to open to state residents this week, cabins and lodges reopen May 26

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WDTV)-- Overnight facilities at West Virginia's state parks and forests will start reopening to state residents this week, West Virginia State Parks and Forests officials say.

A news release from state parks and forests says campgrounds are scheduled to open on Thursday, May 21. Cabins and lodges will open on May 26.

State parks and forests officials say to follow the guidelines of Gov. Jim Justice's Safer at Home order and reopening plan for the state, overnight facilities will only be open to West Virginia residents. Most day-use areas remain open to the public, through social distancing guidelines will be enforced.

"Our first and most important priority at this time is making sure our guests, visitors and staff are safe," said West Virginia State Parks Chief Brad Reed. "We want to thank the Governor and our state's health officials for leading us through this crisis and providing the guidance and resources we need to start reopening our parks and forests."

Facilities opening on May 21:

- Park offices associated with camping
- Camp stores
- Campground bathhouses
- Golf courses
- Wobble clay shotgun ranges
- Riding stables
- Boathouses
- Other day-use recreational facilities

State parks and forests officials say the park system's customer service call center will also return to full operation. Overlooks at Blackwater Falls and Coopers Rock and the trail system at Beartown will open during this phase.

Facilities opening on May 26:

- Cabins
- Lodges
- Nature centers
- Museums
- Restaurants will also resume full service with reduced seating capacity

Park and forest staff will follow all guidelines issued by Gov. Justice, as well as state and federal health officials, according to the news release. This included wearing personal protective equipment and adopting deep-cleaning measures at all facilities.

Staff will also be placing signs promoting social distancing around all park and forest facilities, according to park and forest officials. Staff will monitor day-use areas and prohibit all gatherings of 25 or more people in one location.