Update on Keeping the Park Open

I need to give you an update on keeping the park open since things have changed in the week since I wrote about it.  It seems like things are changing every day.  For instance, I wrote this post yesterday morning, and then last night the Georgia Governor Kemp issued a stay-at-home directive for the state – finally.

Fort Frederica National Monument is currently still open to the public.  But, like the government shutdown a year ago, restrooms and the visitors center are closed and the rangers are gone.  The National Park Service came out with an update on cleaning guidelines that we are not able to follow.  For instance, you have to have protective respiratory gear and coveralls to clean (like we did at Death Valley).  Fort Frederica does not have that gear and can’t get it now.

Most of our visitors are now locals although we do get a few people from out of state everyday – mostly from Florida.  We have a table with information outside the Visitors Center and one of the volunteers stays in the breezeway to answer questions and monitor the visitors.  The rangers are working from home, but all the volunteers are continuing with our regular hours.  The only time we interact with visitors is when we are at the information table.  The rest of the time we do projects, which you will hear more about in coming posts.

Essentially, the volunteers are working from home.  The four volunteer couples all live in the park.  We consider it to be a protected compound and we are the protectors.  So, while we have a lot of interaction with each other, we don’t have much interaction with people from outside the park.  Three of the couples were supposed to leave already, but their summer gigs were canceled (like our trip) or delayed, so we are all still here.  This seems as safe as anyplace to ride out the pandemic.

Christ Church parking lot usually packed with tourists

An update on the island:  many people canceled their spring break plans so the island feels emptier.  Glynn County closed all non-essential businesses and restaurants can only offer take-out.  The beaches and pier are closed as well as the schools and churches.  So we get a lot of locals walking in the park for a change of scenery.  Some people stop by just to have someone to talk to.

The world is a new a different place, but here at Fort Frederica it doesn’t feel much different.  We are still working and enjoying the other volunteers.  How about you?  Give me an update on your life.  What are you missing during this time of isolation?