Kristin DeBoer: Kestrel encourages people to enjoy outdoors – safely

  • Part of the Dauchy property, being referred to by the Kestrel Land Trust as the Whately Center Woods Project, in Whately. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/MARK WAMSLEY

Published: 4/5/2020 6:25:44 PM

During these stressful times, it has been heartening to see so many more people outside. The number of visitors to local conservation areas is hitting record highs. Town forests, state parks and trails are an essential service that everyone can access to stay healthy and make the best of every day.

Walking on a woodland trail offers the space to find solace. It also offers space to connect with neighbors — at a safe physical distance. A chat across the path, watching the sunset together, a pause to listen to the birds returning — these are easy ways we can stay connected with our community and with nature during this difficult and uncertain period.

Just five minutes breathing the fresh air decreases stress. And being active outdoors gives kids and adults a way to exercise. Mental and physical health to boost our immune systems is critical to fight illness during this pandemic.

As more people come outside this spring, it is equally important to stay safe outdoors. We must work together to contain the COVID-19 virus by maintaining physical distance. When visiting a trailhead, consider whether the parking area is full. If there is no place to park, come back another time. Or find a less visited area to explore (kestreltrust.org/explore offers ideas). And when on the trail, please keep 6-feet part, including dogs and kids. This may mean that you need to step off the trail to let others pass safely.

At Kestrel Land Trust we are continuing to collaborate with towns and the state to create new parks and trails and secure more public access across the Valley. Right now, we have a dozen conservation and trail projects underway from Shutesbury, Leverett, Pelham, Amherst, Hadley, South Hadley, and Belchertown to Whately, Southampton, Northampton, Easthampton, and Holyoke.

It is clear that we all need these natural places now more than ever. That is why we are motivated to expand opportunities for people of all ages to connect with land and water, close to home. And why we hope you will enjoy the land safely to keep our community healthy.

Kristin DeBoer

Executive Director, Kestrel Land Trust 




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