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As Dane County continues to follow the Safer at Home restrictions the state put in place earlier this year, Dane County parks are playing a critical role in allowing the residents to get outside, exercise, and enjoy the county’s natural beauty.

County residents and organizations use and appreciate the parks as evidenced at the May 13 Park Commission meeting where there were several items on the agenda accepting funds from friends groups and the Parks Foundations, in addition to grants from the state.

Research shows the impact getting outdoors has on people’s mental and physical health. For example, public health researchers have found that exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to physical well-being, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones.

Parks are located throughout the county, with more information available at https://www.danecountyparks.com/ParkSystem/List.

“This is a difficult time, no one is denying that," said County Board Supervisor and Park Commission Chair Dave Ripp (District 29).

"I’m happy that residents of Dane County are still able to enjoy our beautiful parks and take a break from the very serious situation we find ourselves in," Ripp added. "I’m impressed and grateful to all of the park visitors who have been doing a great job social distancing. County staff work very hard to make the parks open and accessible for all, and the public’s role in helping them do their jobs is important and appreciated”.

During March and April, Dane County Parks saw an estimated 27% to 36% increase in park visitors from last year at this time.

Dane County Parks asks the public to follow some guidelines including:

• The county is unable to disinfect park amenities including playground equipment, tables or other surfaces so please come to the park prepared with items you may need, such as hand sanitizer or disinfectant wipes. It is suggested that park patrons bring a plastic bag and use it like a glove if you need to touch any surfaces, such as gates.

• Use parks and trails early in the morning as they tend to get busier later in the day.

• If a park or trail is very busy head somewhere else.

• Follow social distancing protocols of six feet in distance from people who do not reside in your household. The county encourages you to wear a cloth face covering if you plan to visit an area where you will be in close proximity of other people (such as at the dog park or biking/hiking trails). Visit Public Health's FAQs page for more information on cloth face coverings.

The Dane County Parks Department has also created a “ways to Explore & Play” page with ideas at https://www.danecountyparks.com/explore

“We’re lucky to have the park system that we do. It is a great way to see the beauty of all parts of the county during these difficult times ” said Sun Prairie County Board Supervisor Analiese Eicher, who is also the chairperson for the Dane County Board of Supervisors.

For the most up-to-date information on the parks, visit https://www.danecountyparks.com/covid19

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