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Fountain Creek Nature Center staffers demonstrate that face masks and hand sanitizers can enhance the fun of exploring nature center programs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bear Creek and Fountain Creek Nature Centers have reopened with limited hours to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Both nature centers are open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. The staff encourages visitors to wear face masks while inside the building and to maintain a six-foot distance from others. No more than 10 visitors are allowed inside each nature center at a time. Those feeling ill or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms are asked to stay home.

Visitors will be asked to use hand sanitizer prior to entering and exiting the facilities. Additionally, both nature centers will close at noon each day to disinfect commonly touched surfaces, said Todd Marts, manager, Recreation and Cultural Services Division.

“We strongly encourage everyone to wear masks but do not require them for entry. We are evaluating our procedures daily for improvements,” Marts said.

Although they are once again welcoming visitors, the nature centers are unable to conduct regular programs and events at this time. However, a few special outdoor programs are in the works.

A free Archery Day is planned from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, May 30 at Bear Creek Regional Park Archery Range (near the tennis courts). USA-certified archery coaches from the Archery School of the Rockies will walk participants through the basics and test their skills. All equipment will be provided. Participants are required to pre-register and wear face masks, close-toed shoes and no long sleeve shirts to this free event. Children ages 6 and older and adults are welcome.

Similarly, Bear Creek Archery Day Camps will be held from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m., June 9-11, June 23- 25, July 7-9, July 21-23 and Aug. 4-6 at Bear Creek Regional Park. The public is encouraged to participate. Again, certified archery coaches will teach basic archery skills. Coaches will teach the Olympic team system. Cost is $90 per week and pre-registration is required.

The Outdoor Safety Series: First Aid for Outdoor Kids will be from 9-10:30 a.m., Saturday, June 6 at Fox Run Regional Park. The 90-minute class will show children ages 6-12 what comprises a first aid kit and how to apply first aid skills if injured while in the outdoors. Cost is $5 per person or $4 for members. Pre-registration is required and face masks are recommended.

Both El Paso County Nature Centers have lost financial support due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With 94 canceled programs and field trips in recent weeks, spring revenue is down $23,000, according to a recent newsletter.

The nature center team has remained connected to the public through Facebook and YouTube videos at bit.ly/2zzrMPw.

“Visitors have been very appreciative and supportive of our efforts. We are looking forward to the future at both nature centers and bringing programs and camps back while following State and County guidelines,” Marts said.

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