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New outdoor recreation guidelines emphasize importance of preparation, inclusivity, and shared stewardship


Part of a national movement, the Washington Recreate Responsibly Coalition encourages best practices that keep people and places safe and welcoming.


The Washington Recreate Responsibly Coalition, as part of the national Recreate Responsibly Coalition formed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, has released updated guidelines encouraging people to embrace best practices that focus on taking care of oneself, each other, and the outdoors.

An update to the original guidelines released in May 2020 amid evolving COVID-19 public health restrictions, the 2021 guidelines focus on the importance of preparation, inclusivity, and shared stewardship. King County Parks is a member of the state coalition.

“COVID-19 changed the context of outdoor recreation in Washington state,” said Kindra Ramos, communications director at Washington Trails Association. “With more people than ever enjoying the state’s natural beauty and public lands, these guidelines offer simple and actionable ways each of us, whether lifelong or first-time adventurers, can do our part for Washington’s outdoors.”

Recreating responsibly means:

Know before you go. Check the status of the place you want to visit for closures, fire restrictions, and weather. 
Plan and prepare. Reservations and permits may be required. Make sure you have the gear you need and a back-up plan. 
Build an inclusive outdoors.  Be an active part of making the outdoors safe and welcoming for all identities and abilities. 
Respect others. There is space for everyone outdoors. Be kind to all who use the outdoors and nature differently. 
Leave no trace.  Respect the land, water, wildlife, and Native communities. Follow the seven Leave No Trace principles.
Make it better. We all have a responsibility to sustain the places we love. Volunteer, donate, and advocate for the outdoors.

While there are no longer statewide public health restrictions in Washington that apply to outdoor recreation, rates of infection from the Delta variant of COVID-19 are on the rise. When enjoying the outdoors, the Washington Recreate Responsibly Coalition encourages people to add face coverings and hand sanitizer to their 10 Essentials.
“Although Washington state has attained some of the highest vaccination rates in the country, COVID-19 is still present in our communities,” said Andrea Martin, Recreation Policy Manager, of the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. “We want people to plan and prepare before they venture out, because that improves safety for everyone.”

These guidelines are being promoted nationwide through the Recreate Responsibly Coalition, an alliance made up of more than 1,300 non-profit organizations, public agencies, and outdoor recreation businesses, media, and influencers that are working together to help everyone experience the benefits of nature.

Brought together by a shared motivation to help people recreate safely amid the changing circumstances of the pandemic, the Washington Recreate Responsibly Coalition was one of the first in the nation and includes more than 100 non-profit organizations, public agencies, and local businesses.

By teaming up across sectors and states and harnessing the power of a simple vision, the Recreate Responsibly Coalition has been immensely effective at sharing its messages, garnering billions of impressions on social media, offering the original guidelines in nine languages, and building an influential voice for the outdoors. 

“Building an inclusive outdoors is good for people and our environment. Everyone should have the opportunity to safely enjoy the benefits of being in nature, and the Recreate Responsibly guidelines encourage you to be an active part of making the outdoors safe and welcoming for all identities and abilities,” said David Dunphy, Executive Director, of the youth outdoor adventure group, Y.E.T.I.

As we look to the future beyond COVID-19, the Recreate Responsibly Coalition hopes that these updated guidelines will also serve as a statement of community: that together, we can #RecreateResponsibly to build a safe, sustainable, and inclusive outdoors for all. 

For more information, visit and follow @recreateresponsibly on Twitter and Instagram and #RecreateResponsibly across social media platforms.

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Kindra Ramos, Washington Trails Association,, 206 625 1367;
Katie Egresi, Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust,, 206 678 2183