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The leadership of the Nebraska National Forests & Grasslands, (NNFG) takes the safety of our personnel, contractors, volunteers, and visitors seriously. COVID-19 poses unique and unprecedented risks to our workforce, visitors, and the communities we live in and support.

Tim Buskirk, Pine Ridge District Ranger announced changes to the district’s recreation offerings in response to the US Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region’s direction on recreational use on National Forest System lands.

“We understand folks may want to appropriately social distance by hiking, mountain biking and sightseeing on their National Forest.  These and other allowable uses are still available, but in order to comply with appropriate CDC and health agency guidance for gathering and social distancing, all of our campgrounds will be closed until further notice,” Buskirk said.

Jack Isaacs, Forest Supervisor for the NNFG said, “Given the rapidly changing situation, the NNFG conducted a risk analysis of recreation and visitor services to determine management changes we can implement to proactively mitigate any risks to health and safety for all of us. For example, immediately implementing virtual services for all of our public offices.”

The Nebraska National Forests and Grasslands (NNFG) are implementing virtual services to protect the health and safety of employees and members of the public during the COVID-19 outbreak in accordance with guidance from federal and state authorities.  All NNFG offices will be locked in order to protect the public and our employees and implement social distancing. Please call each office directly if we can assist you.

Customers needing information, permits and maps may call during regular business hours for prompt, customer service. Those local numbers are as follows:

• Supervisor’s Office/Pine Ridge Ranger District, Chadron, Neb. 308-432-0300

• Bessey Ranger District, Halsey, Neb. 308-533-2257

• Fall River Ranger District, Hot Springs, S.D. 605-745-4107

• Wall Ranger District, Wall, S.D. 605-279-2125

• Fort Pierre Ranger District, Fort Pierre, S.D. 605-224-5517

 “As we work through unpredictable and rapidly changing situations, health and safety remains our number one priority,” Isaacs said. “We are committed to continue to support our communities and fulfill our mission as we all work together to minimize the impacts and spread of COVID-19.”

These actions have been taken based on the best available medical advice to limit gatherings of large numbers of people and to promote social distancing. Visitors are encouraged to contact their local forest or ranger district for the latest office hours and availability.

Visitors to our National Forests are urged to take the precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For tips from the CDC on preventing illnesses like the coronavirus, go to: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html.

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