Come Out and Play!
Outdoor Chattanooga News + Events May 2020
As we continue to navigate the world of social distancing and virtual programming, our newsletter looks a little different. The community events and activities we typically highlight have been replaced with virtual programs, parks, trails and greensapce status, and how to experience the outdoors safely and responsibly during COVID19. We're relying heavily on our social media outlets (links below) to stay connected until we can meet in person again.
Announcements and News
City Parks - Walnut Street Bridge and the Riverwalk Reopen
The City reopened the Walnut Street Bridge and entire Riverwalk on Friday, May 1st. This reopen includes all city parks, trails, and greenspaces for passive recreation and users should still adhere to social distancing and personal hygiene recommendations to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
 Facilities and gathering areas that REMAIN CLOSED include: indoor facilities, the carousel, water features, picnic areas and shelters, pavilions, playgrounds, play courts and fields, dog parks, and the skatepark.

➡️  Park restrooms will be open
➡️  Golf Courses will be open with social distancing in place
➡️  No organized gathering or activities permitted at this time.

When going out into public, the CDC and the City advise all individuals to maximize physical distance from others and the use of disinfectants in common and high-traffic areas. Avoid socializing in groups of more than 10 people in circumstances that do not allow for appropriate physical distancing and precautionary measures to be observed. Schools and organized youth activities that are currently closed should remain closed.

🌳  Please don’t visit parks if you are sick or were recently exposed to COVID-19
🌳  Please don’t visit crowded parks
🌳  Please don’t use playgrounds
🌳  Please don’t use water parks or water playgrounds
🌳  Please don’t participate in organized activities or sports

Tennessee State Parks Reopen
Most  Tennessee State Parks   reopened April 24 for day time use, but there are some important guidelines to follow before visiting them. Check out this video from TN State Park Rangers. We encourage you to stay local, practice social distancing, stay home if you are sick, plan ahead, and be prepared if you decide to get out and explore a state park. Visit the TN State Park website to learn more about the areas and parks that will remain closed and other considerations before venturing out.

Great Smoky Mountain National Park Reopening
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park will begin reopening May 9. The reopening will happen in phases. In the first phase, many of the park’s roads and trails will open to the public.

Hamilton County Parks Remain Open
Enterprise South Nature Park and Chester Frost County Park have remained open throughout the duration of the health crisis, allowing locals an opportunity to recreate in nature. Hamilton County posts guidelines for park use and alerts of trail and park closures as they occur.

Outdoor Chattanooga Events
Virtual Rapid Learning Skills Sessions | Wednesdays in May
Due to the impact of COVID-19, we've temporarily adjusted how we operate. All of our programs and group activities are suspended until further notice to adhere to the social distancing recommendations of the CDC and the City of Chattanooga . This includes our Rapid Learning Whitewater Program. This dynamic program offers formal kayak instruction for beginner and seasoned kayakers to learn and develop the skills necessary to confidently and safely paddle whitewater streams. Follow our Rapid Learning Facebook and check out our Youtube channel for virtual learning opportunities every Wednesday in May.
Virtual Learn to Ride a Bike Class
We believe knowing how to ride a bike is an essentail life skill and typically we offer free learn to ride a bike classes on the 2nd Monday of each month. Unfortunately, we haven't been approved to offer in person programs yet, so we put together a 2 minute video with helpful tips and tricks on teaching your child how to ride a bicycle. It's our way of trying to help all the parents out there who've recently found themselves in new roles as teachers. Watch the full video here .
Virtual Hike
Since we can't lead a guided hike in person this month, we're offering a 5-minute  virtual hike with scenic views and a waterfall at Denny Cove located in the South Cumberland State Park . It is a scenic trail in a remote setting and as of now, Tennessee State parks are open to the public. Please check our website for the latest updates on closures and travel restrictions before heading out and be sure to practice Leave No Trace Principles .
Bicycle Safety Tips
We've noticed a lot more people out on their bicycles during quarantine and we love seeing folks having two wheeled fun! But it got us to thinking... Do you know how to perform the ABC Quick Check to ensure your bike is safe to ride before you take it for a ride? Check out this video from our Bicycle Guru, James, and learn how!

Community Events
May is National Bike Month!
National Bike Month celebrates biking as transportation, recreation, and essential to our well-being and everyday lives. Due to the impact of COVID19, The League of American Cyclists postponed community events like Bike to Work Week until September 21–27, with Bike to Work Day rescheduled for September 22. In place of in-person rides and community events, we encourage you to participate in the National Bike Challenge 2020 , which kicked off May 1, and continues through September. If you haven't already been actively biking around town, make May the month you commit to biking more! While you're at it, connect with your friends, family and co-workers to encourage and support each other to ride.

Virtual Experiences with #ConnectChatt
While people in Chattanooga and across the world practice social distancing recommended by health professionals due to COVID-19, ConnectChatt is a way to connect you to Chattanooga. Visit Chattanooga created #ConnectChatt to share our community’s virtual experiences through social media. See what experiences are available for you and your family to tune into or do at home.

Four Nature Apps for Backyard Explorin'
As we continue to adjust the way we get out and experience our natural world to prevent the spread of COVID-19, technology can be a great tool for interacting with our natural environment and learning about nature. We encourage you to try these  free apps  to learn more about the common plants + critters   that live in your own yard or neighborhood. Take it a step further and share your sightings to become an official citizen scientist!

○  iNaturalist - With  iNaturalist , you’ll join nearly half a million nature lovers in sharing your observations. Download the app, create a login, and  watch these video tutorials  on how to use your phone to photograph your “prey.” Share your sighting and the app's intelligence will identify what you found. iNaturalist logs your observations links to detailed info on the species. You can even investigate the activity around you to see what your neighbors have been finding!  

○  Seek - Is more user-friendly than iNaturalist because it was designed especially for kids and it allows you to ID in real-time with your phone's camera. When you scan a plant or spider or snail with your camera, the app searches around and (most of the time!) pops up with a name.   So fun! Seek doesn’t share information, because of location privacy concerns for underage naturalists. 

eBird - Launched in 2002 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology,  eBird  is another   crowd-sourced database. Just about every smart phone-owning birdwatcher in the world now contributes their sightings on the eBird app, with over 100 million bird sightings every year. You simply log on at the start of your birdwatching and record the birds you see. The app logs your time and location. This helps conservation efforts to build migration maps, track population changes and monitor the effects of climate change. Even your backyard birds deserve to be recorded! Browse  to get up-to-the-minute info on what’s been seen right here and abroad. 

Merlin - Not sure what bird you’re looking at?  Merlin  is a terrific app for birding beginners, using eBird data to narrow down your bird. Tell Merlin what you see. It’ll ask the size, colors, what the bird is doing, and then give you photos of likely birds to choose from.  Couldn’t be easier! 
*This is a perfect time to look for birds in your grass, shrubs, trees, and sky because they’re busy nesting or migrating south to their breeding grounds. Birds are most active in the morning and at dusk.

An upside to this troubling time is the opportunity to appreciate what’s right here at home, and to find beauty in the ordinary. Nature heals, so go explore! 
*Thanks to NOOGAToday for the inital write-up.
Outdoor Chattanooga's Response to COVID-19
Our primary mission is to connect residents and tourists with Chattanooga's outdoor scene. Unfortunately, due to the impact of COVID-19, we've had to temporarily adjust how and what it means to experience the outdoors in Chattanooga. All of our programs and group activities are still suspended until further notice to adhere to the social distancing recommendations of the CDC and the City of Chattanooga .

We believe the outdoors can be a place of solace and serenity while offering opportunities for reflection, recreation and connection with nature - all important elements of staying healthy. While we practice social distancing and do our part to prevent the spread of the virus, we've compiled a list of park and public spaces closures, along with resources, ideas, and activities for how you can still experience the great outdoors in the greater Chattanooga region, in a variety of ways. **Please note that many public day-use areas, restrooms, campgrounds, beaches, and recreational sites are still closed or have limited ammenities (check the list below before you go) so you can plan accordingly and practice Leave No Trace Principles and recommendations for going outside during COVID-19 .

If you're going out for a walk, run, or ride, we'd like to encourage you to use free tools like STRAVA , MapMyWalk , MTB Project , and/or Trailforks so that you can track your route and share it with others! It's a fun way to encourage group participation while still adhering to social distancing. The iNaturalist app is a great online resource for recording wildlife observations and tracking biodiversity.
Looking Ahead...Upcoming Events
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