PA representative calling for state park restrictions

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LEHIGHTON, CARBON COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A Pennsylvania legislator wants to ban out-of-state visitors from areas at Beltzville State Park as the beach continues to draw big crowds to it’s this summer.

“What we’re seeing at Beltzville is just not acceptable,” Rep. Doyle Heffley told Eyewitness News.

State Representative Doyle Heffley is calling on the Governor and the Secretary of the DCNR to restrict access to visitors from out-of-state.

“I would call on him to restrict access to the park to in state residents only,” said Heffley.

Keeping socially distant, to curb the spread of COVID-19, is one of the main reasons Heffley is looking for change. Recent events that have gone on at the state park are also worrying the representative.

“There’s been alcohol consumption on video, marijuana use, people swimming in restricted areas,” Heffley explained.

The Beltzville State Park manager says limiting access to out-of-state residents has never happened before.

“The state parks were created for all people to enjoy, and in the history of the state parks we have never limited who we allow to,” said Alma Holmes, park manager Beltzville State Park.

Holmes also admits restricting access would be tricky.

“We just received the letter today and the department is evaluating it so when we get an evaluation then we can get further details,” said Holmes.

We spoke to park visitors from in and out of state about the possibility of allowing Pennsylvania residents only in the park.

“Every state has to make their own decisions, we have the same thing going on in our state, we can’t visit our beaches on Long Island, some of them are private, but the state ones are open,” said Maria Marotta, Queens, New York resident.

“I actually think it’s a good idea. I think it’s better to err with caution and keep the people out after Fourth of July it was really bad here there were too many people,” said John Tarricone, Bethlehem resident.

Because of COVID-19 there is a 75% capacity cap to park visitors on the weekend, but they have brought in outside help for when the park gets overcrowded.

“The parks are being loved to death,” said Holmes.

Because the DCNR just received the letter today, it’s too soon to make any decisions.

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