Bernheim Forest reopens to members, enforces social distancing rules

TORI GESSNER | WAVE 3 News

Bernheim Forest’s 16 acres of open space in Bullitt County can be considered the perfect place to practice social distancing. That’s much of the reason the staff is welcoming the forest’s members back to the grounds for the first time since it shut down in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Bernheim Forest Executive Director Dr. Mark Wourms said the forest had more than 530,000 visitors last year, but this year it’s been strangely quiet without its normal crowd of nature lovers.

“It was peaceful, but on the other hand, it didn’t have that energy. It didn’t have that spark,” Wourms said Tuesday.

The spark is being ignited again, though, as people like Kristie Bender and her granddaughters stop by to see the famed forest giants for the first time in a while.

“We’ve practiced social distancing and wearing our masks, but we get out and about so we don’t feel that cabin fever, but it’s real [sic] nice to be in this kind of a setting,” Bender said.

Wourms says being outside in nature can help improve people’s mental and physical health, which in turn, may help fight the virus.

“Mentally, seeing beauty, enjoying bird songs, hearing locusts, those things just connect you to the earth, connect you with each other, and that’s so good for people. It’s healing for people,” Wourms said.

In two weeks, Bernheim Forest will reopen to all visitors, not just membership holders.

Visitors are required to oblige by the following set of rules to keep everyone safe:

  • Members who decide to come to the forest must call ahead to book an appointment to control how many people are on the property at once
  • Visitors must stay 10 feet away from other groups and staff members. Masks are recommended but not required.

For more information on the next phase of the Bernheim Forest reopening, click here.

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