PHILADELPHIA — Wissahickon Valley Park has been seeing more visitors since March as people stay in the Philadelphia area amid the coronavirus pandemic.
But with increased visitors comes increased trash and debris, swimming in prohibited areas, illegal parking, and a lack of social distancing.
With that in mind, the Philadelphia Parks & Recreation will dispatch social distance ambassadors to Wissahickon Valley Park this weekend to welcome visitors and educate them on safe and responsible park usage.
The ambassadors will maintain a presence at popular entrances to the park and trailheads.
Philadelphia Parks & Recreation’s Park Rangers are on duty at the Wissahickon and other watershed parks to remind residents that swimming in Philadelphia’s rivers, streams, and waterways is prohibited and extremely dangerous—even for the most experienced swimmers. Jumping into these bodies of water from any height can cause serious injury or death.
Additionally, gatherings of 50 people or more are prohibited in all of Philadelphia’s parks.
“As always, but especially this year, Philadelphia parks and trails have been a vital lifeline for thousands of residents, offering a safe, healthy way to get outdoors and recreate during the pandemic,” said Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell. “Our ambassadors and rangers will be out this weekend to educate and remind residents of safe and responsible park usage.”
Philadelphia Parks & Recreation’s Park Rangers will continue to support park safety by patrolling high-use entrances around the Valley Green and Devil’s Pool areas and engaging residents through education and awareness-building about park rules such as: no littering, no swimming, keeping dogs on leash, no illegal parking, and the need to wear a mask and maintain six feet of distance from other park visitors.
Rangers will continue to issue citations for illegal parking and alert the Philadelphia Police Department of any safety issues within the park. Additional signage reminding users of park rules and safe usage will also be added this weekend.
Also, rangers and other staff will monitor parks throughout the Philadelphia Parks system to ensure that residents are adhering to social distancing guidelines, masking up, and using our parks and trails safely.
As for trash, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation staff are working to manage the increased trash in City parks, and ask residents to carry out their trash, as well as support park beautification through limited, small-group clean-ups and solo efforts.
Residents can get involved in a solo clean up campaign and learn more about ways to help preserve and maintain the Wissahickon Valley Park.
Parks & Recreation and Park Friends Groups ask visitors to:
Carry out what they carry in.
Not swim or bathe in any park waterways.
Not jump or dive into any park waterways.
Wear a mask.
Maintain at least six feet of distance from other visitors.
Park in designated parking areas only.
Keep dogs on a leash at all times.
Use the bathroom before your visit, and refrain from leaving human waste in or around the park.
Follow all posted park rules and regulations.
“The Wissahickon Valley Park is everyone’s park to enjoy. But with unprecedented numbers of visitors and limited staff capacity this summer, the best thing you can do to make your trip fun and stress-free is to plan ahead,” said Ruffian Tittmann, Friends of the Wissahickon’s executive director. “That includes knowing different parking alternatives and trying lesser-used areas of the park when your favorite spot is too crowded to maintain social distancing.”
See Friends of the Wissahickon’s other recommendations for planning visits online here.
This article originally appeared on the Roxborough-Manayunk Patch