Memorial Day was the traditional kick-off for summer recreation, and many popular areas may be extra busy this year.
“We have seen increased visitation on the forest (Monongahela National Forest) the past few years and we expect the same this year,” said Shawn Cochran, forest supervisor. “And that is a wonderful thing. We want to make sure everyone has the information they need to be safe and have fun while enjoying their national forest … all summer long.”
The Monongahela National Forest staff would like visitors to keep these tips in mind to protect oneself and others during visits:
- Check the Forest website to see the latest safety alerts and closures at https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/mnf/alerts-notices.
- If the parking lot is full at the location one wants to visit, have a backup plan for another place to visit. Visit this webpage for ideas: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recmain/mnf/recreation.
- Carefully monitor campfires. Never leave a campfire unattended. Extinguish the fire completely. Keep pouring water on it until all remains are cool. If it is too hot to touch, it is too hot to leave.
- If a person plans to visit a designated wilderness on the forest, educate oneself on what that means: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/mnf/specialplaces/?cid=stelprdb5084288. A person might be surprised to learn that one needs to be self-sufficient. There are no bathrooms, trails are often unmarked, cell service may be unavailable, and group sizes are limited to 10.
- Be considerate of others. Pay attention to one’s surroundings. Obey all signs and posted restrictions. Pack it in, pack it out. Follow the Leave No Trace 7 Principles © 1999 by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org.
- Cell service is spotty across the forest and if a person gets into trouble one may be on one’s own for a while before help can reach a person. Be sure to always tell someone where one is going and when one plans to be back. Be aware that one is responsible for one’s own safety and for the safety of those around one.
- Enjoying the water? Wear a lifejacket. According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 85 percent of all boating-related fatalities were not wearing a life jacket. Life jackets save lives.
- Be prepared for all types of weather, and check weather conditions often. Sudden storms are common in the mountains of West Virginia and may cause flash flooding. Take action and move to higher ground if needed.
- Swimming is not permitted at lakes on Monongahela National Forest, except for the designated swimming areas at Lake Sherwood and Blue Bend. Even in those locations, lifeguards are not provided, so never swim alone and always monitor children.
For more tips about recreating responsibly and safely, visit: https://www.fs.usda.gov/visit/know-before-you-go/responsible-recreation.