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Tupper town restricts Little Wolf to season-long campers

TUPPER LAKE — The town-operated campsites at Little Wolf Beach will be open only to current all-season campers this year, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Campers with reservations by the week or day are being offered either a refund or to defer their reservations until next summer.

Town Supervisor Patti Littlefield said the campground got its permit to operate Wednesday and that campers will be able to begin pulling in and hooking up their campers today.

“We feel that to comply with the governor’s orders, the (state) Department of Health and Franklin County Public Health this is the best option to keep the campsite open while at the same time doing the very best we can to keep the community safe and protected,” Littlefield wrote in a press release. “As the summer progresses and the opening phases as defined by the governor change, the town may re-visit these decisions.”

Only season-long campers in campers or recreational vehicles will be allowed, as they come with their own restrooms and plumbing. The restrooms will be closed to the public.

There are 41 RV hookups at the campground, but this year only the 28 season-long campers will be allowed to come. There will be amenity restrictions and new rules they must follow. Littlefield said the campers may also be asked to space their sites out over the campground.

She said at least two of the 28 campers have said they are not coming this year, and their spots are being held for next year.

Littlefield said the town may allow some of the 18 people on the seasonal camper wait list to become summer-long campers this year — until Labor Day.

However, she said over the past few years the town has not replaced outgoing seasonal campers with those on the list, to let shorter-term campers and locals more of a chance to use the sites.

Littlefield said town officials met at the beach Monday night to go over the “strict guidelines” campers must follow to keep their site this summer.

Any campers coming in for the summer must wait through a two-week quarantine before they start going into town. Town board member John Quinn asked if it will be difficult for people to self-quarantine on vacation. Littlefield said it should not be too hard, as they’ll still be able to do the hiking, paddling and swimming they came here for.

The public amenities will be closed: playground, bathrooms and beach.

The restrooms will be unlocked and stocked, but are only to be used for emergencies — such as if a camper blows a plumbing line.

People can launch their boats from the park but can’t swim there.

An occupation limit per campsite was set at eight people, including those camping — meaning if six people are camping at a site, there can only be two more people at that site at a time. This is slightly more strict than the state’s 10-person gathering limit.

The 6-foot social distancing guideline must be adhered to, and campers will be asked to wear masks if they cannot stay away.

Littlefield said the town can eject campers if they refuse to follow the rules, but she said she has faith they’ll comply with the new way to camp.

“Hopefully we won’t have to be the bad guys and say, ‘I’m sorry, but you’ve worn out your welcome,” Littlefield said.

She said some campers have said they will self-regulate and police these rules, too.

Littlefield said town staff stays in close contact with the campers by email and phone.

Quinn said the town should have campers sign onto the rules before they can camp this summer.

Littlefield said transient campers may be able to stay later in the summer if they are willing to do the two-week quarantine first.

She also said that if campers have to leave early because of a coronavirus outbreak, the town will prorate the fee and offer a partial refund.

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