MIDDLESBORO, Ky. – As of noon on Monday 30 March, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park will be closed to all park visitors until further support for federal, state and local efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is notified, according to a release from the park.
This closure includes all park paths, Pinnacle Road and Overlook, Visitor Center and parking area, all restrooms, Wilderness Road Campground and Picnic Area, Bartlett Park Road and Picnic Area, Sugar Run Picnic Area, Civic Park Picnic Area, and all backcountry campsites, according to the park.
Law enforcement rangers will continue to patrol, monitor the park and enforce all rules.
KY Co Hwy 988, US 25E through the Cumberland Gap Highway Tunnel and VA Hwy 58 through the park will remain accessible to traffic, according to park officials.
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“During this pandemic, the closure of this park is necessary to ensure that the lives of visitors, employees, volunteers and park partners are not further endangered,” says park superintendent Charles Sellars. “Visitors need to think carefully about the cascading effect of their” All I’m doing is going out on a hike, “Sellars points out.” If a visitor were injured, the limited staff of the park would literally mean hours for a rescue. Once a rescue is initiated, the park’s emergency response personnel would be at high risk due to the close proximity required to stabilize the visitor and also during the course. An injured visitor puts a strain on the medical staff of hospitals that already deal with the new coronavirus. “
Personal protective equipment (PPE), which the park must purchase to keep park members safe while performing routine tasks, is also placing an additional burden on the decreasing supplies of PPE required in hospitals and other medical facilities in the States. United, according to the park.
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Although rain has been frequent, recent high temperatures and strong winds already have a fire hazard that moves to higher categories. The fire hazard increases considerably when visitors are in the park.
“All our resources are committed to our efforts with the COVID-19 response. Right now, we would not like to do double duty in fighting a preventable fire, “said Sellars.
Updates are published on the park’s website and on the Facebook page. The park website also offers a variety of ways to explore the park through an “armchair tour”. Updates on NPS operations will be published on the park system website.
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