Social distancing. It’s vital to stay close to home and practice social distancing during this difficult time.

There are many opportunities to enjoy nature close to home; backyard birding or delving into a nature novel or documentary represent just a few examples of opportunities to remain connected to nature while practicing social distancing.

Kennebunk Land Trust trails are open. Dan King

If you do venture outside, it’s crucial to follow the Maine CDC’s guidelines such as remaining six feet apart from others, wearing a mask, and having a Plan B if your desired location is busy. However, if you are visiting a trail, consider providing a much larger buffer. If you are running or biking, you may consider allowing for even a greater distance.

As some places close, nature remains open.

I hope that during the pandemic people remember what is important to them such as engaging with nature, staying connected to family and friends, opting outside, and health and wellness.

The Trust for Public Land recently shared that one in three Americans don’t have access to a park near their home.

Kennebunk and surrounding communities are fortunate to have land trusts, reserves, refuges and other conservation organizations who have protected nearby open space; this makes land available for all.

In addition to the environmental benefits of protecting open space, there are many social, health, and community benefits of green space. Access to open space creates increased opportunity for physical activity and may also help strengthen mental health. For example, a 2014 Stanford University study shared that walking helps enhance creativity; some research has also found that walking can help boost your mood. However, it’s vital to remember that the land trusts in us.

Consider becoming a member of your local conservation organization, such as your local land trust, and help protect these places that bring joy to us all and provide key habitat.

Sarah Stanley is executive director for the Kennebunk Land Trust. She can be reached at [email protected]

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