Re-Opened Trails FAQ

Why did you close in the first place?

After we closed our nature centers, we kept trails open. At many of our sanctuaries, we experienced large crowds, many gathering in groups, and were unable to manage the visitation while ensuring social distancing. In addition, many visitors were not familiar with our guidelines and were bringing dogs and partaking in other activities not normally allowed on our sanctuaries. When the first stay-at-home advisory was shared, we took that to heart. We wanted to be very supportive of the efforts to "flatten the curve" and support first responders in the communities where our sanctuaries are located. Since then, we developed a framework to analyze re-opening sanctuaries in a way we feel is safe for visitors, staff, and the land we care for.

How did you select these sanctuaries?

We developed a matrix that incorporated community feedback, input from local boards of health, site-specific trail conditions, our ability to monitor the sanctuary, parking capacity, and status of nearby local parks or land trusts properties. All of the sites in the first group met these criteria.

When will other sanctuaries be open?

We hope to continue opening sanctuaries on a rolling basis. We will update our website as soon as we have more information.

Why aren't other sanctuaries open?

There are several reasons that a sanctuary is not in the first group of open sanctuaries. In some cases, we are waiting on word from local authorities, others would likely attract larger crowds, and some such as Drumlin Farm and Blue Hills Trailside Museum, have staff actively working on-site to care for the animals and need to be kept safe.

Why are you opening at all when COVID-19 is still an issue?

Every decision we have made so far has been in an effort to help stop the spread of COVID-19. At the same time, we know how important access to the outdoors is for mental and physical health. We are asking that people only visit sanctuaries in their nearby communities, to take appropriate safety precautions including wearing a mask when near other people, and to keep visits short. We believe that if we all act responsibly we can both benefit from nature and stop the spread of COVID-19. Of course, if we determine that opening a sanctuary is having the opposite effect of keeping people safe, we will temporarily close that sanctuary.

If I see an issue on a sanctuary, whom should I contact?

Thank you for keeping an eye out. You can contact a sanctuary via email or through Facebook messenger. Emails for all sanctuaries are on the sanctuary’s Contact Us page.

Why do your bathrooms need to be closed?

We closed all facilities to help stop the spread of COVID-19 until further notice.

How can we help support keeping sanctuaries open?

We are so grateful to our members and supporters for sticking with us during these challenging times. Following the safety guidelines as well as only visiting your nearby sanctuaries will help keep our sanctuaries open. In addition, your membership as well as any additional donations will help us continue to take care of our sanctuaries today and in the future.