Opening, Recreation, FAQ
US Army Corps of Engineers
St. Louis District Website

Recreation Facility Openings - COVID-19

Frequently Asked Questions

As recreation areas begin to reopen, please remember to practice responsible recreation.  There are still good practices and guidelines that we all need to adopt to keep each other safe.

  • Stay home if you feel sick, have signs or symptoms, or have been sick in the last two weeks.

  • Limit gatherings to groups of less than 10 and avoid crowded areas.

  • Stay at least 6ft away from other visitors.

  • Use a face covering, pack hand sanitizer, wipes, and soap to disinfect any surfaces you may come in contact with.

  • Always wear a life jacket when recreating in, on, or near the water.

For any recreation facilities/areas that are reopened, if the public does not comply with established measures, including social distancing requirements, areas in question will be closed.

Camping

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  • USACE began the orderly shutdown of all USACE-managed campgrounds March 20 to protect the health and safety of USACE staff and the public and to reduce further spread of COVID-19.
  • Camping often involves distance travel. We need to curtail non-essential travel to avoid potentially spreading the virus. We also do not want to overwhelm rural communities—for example, health systems or even grocery stores—should a visitor become ill or need supplies.
  • Campgrounds do not lend themselves to social distancing. We are drawn to congregate with each other over campfires and in common spaces. Although individual campsites may provide space for social distancing, shared bathroom facilities and other campground amenities do not.
  • The reopening of USACE recreation areas will be dependent on state and local conditions, as well as each project’s ability to put in place safety considerations to protect USACE personnel, contractors, volunteers and the visiting public. Areas will only reopen when state and local conditions warrant and when a project is able to have in place safety considerations to protect USACE personnel, contractors, volunteers and the visiting public.
  • A “Shelter-in-Place” order is in effect in Illinois until 30 May 2020. Under this order campgrounds and RV parks are considered recreational activities and are not essential.
  • The reopening of recreation areas will be dependent on state and local conditions and each recreation project’s ability to put in place safety considerations to protect USACE personnel, contractors, volunteers and the visiting public. Each lake has determined the best way for their staff and visitors to manage and book their campsites.
  • Converting campsites to 100% reservable makes it safer for Lake Staff to comply with CDC social distancing guidelines by limiting or eliminating interactions and exchanges that have to occur inside of six feet, allowing visitors to conduct most of the campsite reservation and check in process on their personal devices.
  • Lakes that have 100% reservable sites will not allow onsite reservations at the gatehouse to be made until further notice. Customers will be required to have advanced reservations prior to their arrival at the campground.
  • Lakes that are offering first-come, first-serve sites will still allow onsite reservations to be made.
  • For day use areas, restrooms or porta potties are available for the public to use and are being cleaned routinely as recommended by the CDC.
  • Once campgrounds open, restroom facilities will be available and will be cleaned routinely as recommended by the CDC. However, we encourage visitors with restrooms contained within their camping units to use those to the maximum extent possible.  Also, please be sure to bring soap or hand sanitizer as these are not always available in the restrooms.
  • Day Use Areas: The reopening of day use areas will be dependent on state and local conditions and each recreation project’s ability to put in place safety considerations to protect USACE personnel, contractors, volunteers and the visiting public. Each lake has determined the best way for their staff and visitors to manage and book their campsites.
  • Campgrounds: Once campgrounds open, shower facilities will be available and will be cleaned routinely as recommended by the CDC.
  • Campsite grills are cleaned as needed depending on the quantity of ash and debris that has accumulated. Cleaning frequency and techniques vary by lake.  If you are concerned about the condition of your campsite grill, please contact the lake project office or visitor center at the location you are visiting.
  • Campgrounds are required to provide restroom facilities to the public in order to meet public health and safety standards. With routine cleaning of restrooms and shower facilities as recommended by the CDC it is safe and feasible to reopen the campground to all users. However, we encourage visitors with restrooms contained within their camping units to use those to the maximum extent possible. 
  • Campgrounds were closed to protect the health and safety of USACE staff and the public. When campgrounds are open, USACE staff interact with visitors and provide assistance increasing the risk of spreading COVID-19. The determination to reopen does not require a restriction in use to self-contained units and has been determined to be safe for all camping methods.
  • Once an opening date has been determined, lake managers will modify campsites to make them reservable.  Once this change has been made, campsites will be available to reserve on the public page within a few minutes.
  • It will be up to each lake to determine when they want to convert campsites and make them available for reservation. Updates will be posted to each lakes website and social media pages.
  • Reservations are currently only being taken online at www.recreation.gov or through the recreation.gov mobile app. The Recreation One Stop reservation service is not taking phone reservations until further notice.

Other

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  • Many Corps sites have areas and facilities that are maintained by other federal or state agencies. These facilities are operated and maintained by these agencies and may have different guidelines for opening. For more information, please contact the state or federal agency that operates the facility.
  • The reopening of USACE recreation areas will be dependent on state and local conditions, as well as each project’s ability to put in place safety considerations to protect USACE personnel, contractors, volunteers and the visiting public.
  • If the public does not comply with established measures, including social distancing requirements, at any recreation areas/facilities that are reopened, the areas in question will be closed.
  • For more information concerning the two person per boat rule and Governor Pritzker's recently issued executive order, refer to the DCEO website at https://www2.illinois.gov/dceo/Pages/default.aspx . On this website, you can view the executive order and FAQ's concerning the order. The FAQ's are listed on the left side of the page under the "Are you an essential business link?" You could also contact an Illinois Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police Officer. Contact information can be found at https://www2.illinois.gov/dnr/LawEnforcement/Documents/DistrictCPOPhonesAndEmails.pdf
  • At this time, we ask that you practice social distancing and abide by gathering protocols, as well as any measures put in place by the State of Illinois to fully enjoy your outdoor experience. Current Illinois guidelines restrict boat capacity to two individuals. Under Title 36, USACE rules and regulations, all state and local laws or ordinances apply on project lands and waters and will be enforced accordingly. We will continue to update our policies concerning recreation areas and specific activities within them as new guidance is released by Federal, State, and Local officials.
  • Collection of day use fees is suspended until 1 OCT 2020.
  • There is no immediate need for an annual pass. Collection of day use fees is suspended until 1 OCT 2020.
  • USACE intends to extend the expiration date of all annual passes effected by the closures and user fee suspensions. For example, if the expiration date of your annual pass is April 2020, you will receive time added to the expiration date. The amount of time added will depend on the length of the closures and fee suspensions.
  • USACE will extend the expiration date of the Annual America the Beautiful passes (such as the Annual Pass, Annual Senior Pass, Military Pass, etc.) effected by the closures and fee suspensions in a similar manner as the Corps Annual Pass. For example, if the expiration date of your Annual or Annual Senior pass is April 2020, you will receive time added to the expiration date. The amount of time added will depend on the length of the closures and fee suspensions.
  • In an effort to maintain social distancing guidelines and to prevent the spread of COVID-19, picnic shelters are closed to reservations.
  • Shelter use will be restricted to groups of 10 people or fewer.
  • In an effort to maintain social distancing guidelines and to prevent the spread of COVID-19, playgrounds are closed. Please see the 'Additional Information' section for more details.
  • In an effort to maintain social distancing guidelines and to prevent the spread of COVID-19, swimming beaches are closed. Please see the 'Additional Information' section for more details.
  • Where conditions permitted, boat launches, viewing areas, general access to waterfront for fishing, and hiking trails have remained open. Please contact the lake you are planning to visit directly for more information.
  • The reopening of recreation areas is dependent on state and local conditions and each recreation project’s ability to put in place safety considerations to protect USACE personnel, contractors, volunteers and the visiting public.
  • For issues regarding a specific lake project please contact the project office directly.  If you have a question or concern that you feel more broadly applies to the St. Louis District, please contact the Public Affairs Office via phone, e-mail, or social media.
  • All special events have been put on hold or cancelled until further notice. Please contact the project office of the lake where you are interested in hosting your event.
  • All special events have been cancelled or put on hold until further notice. For more information regarding a specific event, please contact the organization that is sponsoring the event.
  • For non-emergency issues please contact the project office of the lake you are visiting. They will be able to contact a ranger to assist. In the event of an emergency, please dial 911 to reach local emergency personnel.
  • If a camper reports that they have tested positive for COVID-19, the USACE project will notify the local health department. Health department staff will work with the patient to help them recall everyone with whom they have had close contact during the timeframe while they may have been infectious. Public health staff then notify these exposed individuals (contacts) of their potential exposure as rapidly and sensitively as possible. To protect patient privacy, contacts are only informed that they may have been exposed to a patient with the infection. They are not told the identity of the patient who may have exposed them.
  • The campsite and public areas in the campground will be thoroughly cleaned.
  • If you believe the behavior of other campers is impacting your use of the recreation area or is in some way placing you at risk, please notify a ranger or contact the project office of the lake you are visiting.
  • Should the public not be able to comply with established measures, areas in question will be closed.
  • Park Rangers are required to wear cloth face coverings when they cannot maintain six feet of social distance.

The USACE is opening or reopening recreation facilities using a phased approach as conditions allow. The popularity of some activities and facilities can make it difficult for visitors and USACE employees to maintain proper social distancing protocols and presents a higher likelihood of visitors from wider geographic regions coming into contact with one another, potentially spreading COVID-19.

Examples of these activities and facilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Beaches
  • Playgrounds
  • Fish Cleaning Stations
  • Boat Rafting

Beaches typically draw large crowds which makes it difficult to follow the CDC's social distancing guidelines. In addition, swimming has a higher probability that USACE or other first responder personnel would have to break social distancing protocols for enforcement or protection and rescue of visitors.

Playgrounds are often crowded and can easily exceed recommended guidance for gatherings. It is also challenging to keep playground surfaces clean and disinfected properly when playground surfaces may be contacted by multiple people throughout the day. At this time, playgrounds are closed to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Fish cleaning stations present challenges for cleaning/sanitization. They're also not designed to support the recommended social distancing guidelines. Opening fish cleaning stations may cause users to gather in close proximity to one another rather than waiting until there is more room available.

Boat rafting has a higher probability that USACE or other first responder personnel would have to break social distancing protocols for enforcement, protection, or rescue of visitors.

Contact Information

Public Affairs Office -  314-331-8000

St. Louis District Recreation Projects

Carlyle Lake: 618-594-2484

Kaskaskia River Project: 618-284-7160

Lake Shelbyville: 217-774-3951

Mark Twain Lake: 573-735-4097

Rend Lake: 618-724-2493

Rivers Project Office: 636-899-2600

Wappapello Lake: 573-222-8562