BARKHAMSTED, Conn. (WTNH)– A day to celebrate at the Peoples State Forest in Barkhamsted. For Brody Gaura it is his girlfriend Cailyn’s birthday so they decided to get together picnic style.

“It’s definitely a great way to see some people that you might not have been able to otherwise,” said Gaura. “You can distance more being outside.”

The governor, the commissioner of the DEEP, and other state leaders also chose the state park to celebrate outdoor recreation and the opening of state parks more than they were last year during the beginning of the pandemic.

“Unlike last year, we can tell you with certainty that campgrounds are going to be open and that you can make our reservations now,” said Katie Dykes, Commissioner of the DEEP.

They say that all campgrounds and cabins will be open with reservations required. Also, indoor spaces like museums and nature centers will reopen and the capacity limits at state parks will be relaxed this year – limited only by the number of parking spaces.  

Swimming at inland and shoreline parks with lifeguards will also be open along with boardwalks, picnic tables, concessions, and restrooms.

“It’s nice to be able to have those activities to do outdoors for sure,” said Gaura.

Nice and apparently economically helpful to the state’s economy.

“In 2019 alone, outdoor recreation in Connecticut contributed a $3.7 billion to our GDP, $2 billion in private-sector wages and salaries, and supported over 49,000 jobs,” said Christine D’Andrea, President of CORA, Connecticut Outdoor Recreation Alliance.

“Perhaps most importantly we’ll continue to encourage visitors to wear masks, wash their hands, to stay home if they’re sick,” said Dykes.

That will determine if the parks can continue in this forward direction.

“Absolutely we’re going to keep this going,” said Gov. Ned Lamont, (D) Connecticut. “I think it’s the safest place to be and I think it makes a big difference in people’s lives.”

The state says that anywhere you are in Connecticut you are only fifteen minutes away from a state park.

For a list of every state park in Connecticut, click here.