Trail Conference COVID-19 Update

March 16, 2020
Joshua Howard, Executive Director
New York-New Jersey Trail Conference


Trail Conference COVID-19 Update
Headquarters Exterior Fall 2015 - Photo: Jeremy Apgar


Update May 15:

On May 15, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo reopened statewide certain low-risk businesses, including landscaping and gardening and certain outdoor recreational activities. Since NYS covers a large portion of the trails we oversee, the Trail Conference is following this lead for the resumption of our individual volunteer activities with guidelines that follow the advice of national and local health experts. Outdoor group work and office volunteering will continue to be suspended for the time being. Addtionally, Trail Conference Headquarters remains closed.

Update March 23: 

In these challenging times, the Trail Conference has had to make a number of difficult decisions. We have witnessed more people than ever before seeking out nature in the parks we work so hard to make safe and enjoyable for everyone.

We take the responsibility of caring for the people who protect and use trails very seriously. That is why we are now suspending all outdoor volunteer activity, effective March 23. This is in addition to the suspension of all group activity.

Overcrowding on trails—even trails normally not well-traveled—has made social distancing difficult, if not impossible. In addition, several parks where we work have already made the decision to close. We must all do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19. Staying home is the safest option during this time.

We know how important service is to our volunteers and the land we love. We are working on alternative ways to engage volunteers. Please stay tuned as we develop new opportunities to be involved.

Effective at noon, March 16, Trail Conference Headquarters is closed until further notice. Staff will be working from home.

Office/HQ volunteers have been sent home and should not return to the building until we have reopened to the public.

We recognize that the trails need our help more than ever, but we need to care for them in ways that do not risk personal health and safety. Reinforcing the decision made last week, all Trail Conference in-person gatherings are canceled or must be held digitally. There will be no meetings, events, workshops, crew trips, or chain sawing activities. There should be no activities performed by Trail Conference-sponsored clubs, groups, or crews.  

As stewards of public trails and natural areas, we've prepared articles to help people safely and responsibly connect with nature during this period of social distancing.

These decisions have been made out of an abundance of caution and to adhere to the joint decisions made by the governors of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to protect public safety. The services of our medical professionals and first responders are already stressed at this time. Please do not put unnecessary strain on already strained resources.

We ask all members of the trail community to follow the guidance of the CDC during this unprecedented moment.

The Trail Conference will be monitoring and assessing new information as it becomes available. We will keep everyone updated as things develop.