Getting outdoors for some personal exercise is a permitted activity in the statewide shelter-in-place order resulting from the COVID-19 crisis. But different agencies are taking different approaches to the social distancing mandate.
Rome and Floyd County parks are open. Playground equipment — essentially anything anyone could touch — is circled by yellow caution tape indicating they are off-limits. Trails, however, are open for use.
State parks are still open across Georgia, but the U.S. Forest Service has shut down trailheads, recreation areas and campgrounds across the Chattahoochee National Forest, which covers the northern neck of Floyd County.
Now, the U.S. Department of Interior has weighed in on access to the popular Little River Canyon National Preserve in neighboring Alabama.
Outdoor spaces on the preserve remain open with the exception of the Canyon Mouth Park. A number of the trails are very popular at this time of year because a couple of rare species — the green pitcher plant and sundews, a ruby colored flower with hairy petals — are in bloom. Both plants are carnivorous and eat insects, including mosquitoes.
However, ranger-led organized hikes across the preserve have been canceled. All roads, trails and overlooks along the canyon rim remain open but the information desk at the Canyon Center has suspended operations. Restrooms scattered at locations across the preserve, including those at the Little River Falls overlook, have been shut down
The falls recorded another drowning death Friday when Carlos Morales Doroteo jumped from a rock into the Little River near the big falls and got hung up in a whirlpool and never resurfaced.
Cherokee County Coroner Jeremy Deaton said the site has been responsible for a number of drownings through the years.