Let's make sure that our parks, beaches, and trails stay OPEN this summer.

Yes, I know that we all want to get outside and get this summer going with the long holiday weekend. We're no different - we're opening our pool this weekend and we plan on taking a short kayaking day trip. We've also been hiking a lot during the coronavirus lockdown.

One thing we've noticed on the trails is TONS of garbage. I mean, there's always SOME trash, but as regular hikers, we're noticing more than normal.

First of all, if you're new to hiking, WELCOME! It's a wonderful way to destress and enjoy all of the natural beauty around us. A friendly reminder, though - "leave no trace." If you eat a granola bar on the trail, take the wrapper back with you and throw it out.

Also, if you're stopping to enjoy the view, do NOT block the trail. Step aside so others can safely pass. Hike in a single-file line, if possible. And NO SPITTING.

As far as beaches, it's been shown that the virus is not likely to be transmitted in the water. However, that doesn't mean that you should throw caution to the wind - exercise the same hygiene measures that you would if you'd go into a public pool or a lake on any other day.

It's more dangerous to be on land near someone who has the virus so, if you're laying out on the beach, try to stay six feet away from the person next to you. Masks are advised, but not required in most places. However, be aware of the rules and regulations for the beach you are at before you get there.

Finally, two words: PUBLIC FACILITIES. A lot of picnic areas and restrooms are closed because of COVID-19 so, while the river might be full of boats and the beaches full of people, there's no guarantee that there will be an open restroom.

If you're at a beach and you're butts-to-elbows with people, the smart thing to do would be to disperse and find another spot to enjoy the water. There have been MANY beaches and parks in Michigan that are now closed because of overcrowding.

Enjoy the weekend, Michiganders! Let's be smart and not overcrowd so that the beaches stay open all summer.

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