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Bluff Point, other state parks reach social distancing capacity on sunny Saturday

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection had to turn away visitors from Bluff Point State Park in Groton and four other locations Saturday in order to maintain safe conditions for social distancing, according to a department spokesman.

Saturday was the first sunny weekend day since Gov. Ned Lamont issued an executive order that authorized DEEP to limit parking capacity at popular state parks and prohibiting walk-in visitors when parks are full, in order to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

In addition to Bluff Point, the DEEP said parking lots reached capacity at Chatfield Hollow State Park in Killingworth, Kent Falls State Park in Kent, Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden and Squantz Pond State Park in Fairfield. As the parks closed, DEEP tweeted the information on CTStateParks.

DEEP Chief of Staff Lee Sawyer said by phone that the department had a strong presence of park staff and Environmental Conservation Police officers to ensure visitors practiced social distancing. DEEP will continue to evaluate the new procedures in the coming days and weeks.

"For the most part, our observations are that people are coming in small groups and observing social distance," Sawyer said. "We're hopeful we're able to keep this opportunity for people to stretch their legs and get fresh air."

Connecticut has 110 state parks and 32 state forests, and Sawyer said visitors who arrive at a park that is full should consider another location. A full list of the state parks is available at DEEP's website, portal.ct.gov/deep.

k.florin@theday.com

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