ST. GEORGE — As visitation to Utah state parks has been limited to local residents through an executive order by the governor, the Kane County Commission went a step further Wednesday by closing access to public lands for recreational use to noncounty residents for the next two weeks.
Violations of the county’s executive order can result in a class B misdemeanor, according to a press release from the Kane County Sheriff’s Office.
The order, which does not include residents living in and around Fredonia, Arizona, “prohibits noncounty residents from recreating on public lands.” This includes the unincorporated parts of Kane County and is in effect until April 22.
As of Wednesday, Kane County has seen three COVID-19 cases that appear to be travel-related, according to the order. However, the Southwest Utah Public Health Department currently lists two confirmed cases in the county.
Nonresidents are still able to enter and leave the county for travel-related purposes not related to accessing public lands for recreational use. Use of state parks within the county, such as the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, remains limited to county residents only for the time being.
However, individuals who have been granted a permit from the Bureau of Land Management to hike the popular natural attraction known as The Wave in the Canyon Buttes North area prior to April 8 are still able to do so, according to the county order.
Noncounty resident permit holders are asked to observe social distancing guidelines if they plan to hike the area. Otherwise, they are asked to stay at home, especially if sick or displaying symptoms of COVID-19.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert previously asked individuals with plans to travel to Southern Utah to turn around and go home so that risk of spreading the coronavirus can be reduced. Elected officials in Washington County have added to that sentiment.
During the county’s public lands closure to nonresidents, Kane County officials have asked the BLM’s Paria River District Office to consider issuing 10 daily local hiking permits for The Wave to local residents between now and April 22.
County residents will still be able to recreate on public lands as long as they observe social distancing guidelines and restrictions listed in the county’s order.
County residents can go overnight camping so long as any single group is limited to 10 people or a single household and each group is located at least 50 yards away from any other group.
Other activities like hiking, ATV use, sightseeing, boating and rafting also remain unrestricted for county and neighboring Fredonia-area residents.
Any part-year residents of the county, including their entire household, who have returned to reside in Kane County is ordered to stay in the county through May 1 and self-isolate at home.
Agricultural or other nonrecreational economic activity currently authorized on public lands are not affected by the county’s order.
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