Local Opinion: We all love Sabino Canyon, but please, stay home
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Local Opinion: We all love Sabino Canyon, but please, stay home

Sabino Canyon parking

Even the overflow parking areas at Sabino Canyon have run out of room, and visitors have filled up lots at nearby public schools.

The following column is the opinion and analysis of the writer.

My family lives less than a mile from Sabino Canyon Recreation Area, and it has been very crowded for the past two weeks. Sadly, I am writing this to urge the closure of public access to the national forest.

Many Tucsonans may feel distanced from the harsh realities that other Americans are suffering from the coronavirus. However, this is no excuse for us to ignore CDC guidelines. As someone who had to leave graduate school in New York state and spent several days in New York City in mid-March, I can tell you that this crisis is a situation we cannot afford to take lightly.

The trails at Sabino Canyon are not capable of allowing us to hike while practicing social distancing guidelines from the CDC. My family has had to question whether it is even safe for us to take our daily walk because of how crowded our neighborhood has gotten.

Even though Tucson may not have as many cases of COVID-19 as other cities around the U.S., it is time we start acting like it. This is truly the only way we can flatten the curve. Sadly, people are not going to stop going to Sabino Canyon, which is why I suggest closing it.

The overflow parking lot has run out of room. People have resorted to parking in both the Canyon View Elementary School and Esperero Canyon Middle School parking lots. But these two parking lots are also at full capacity.

I understand many of us want to spend time outside since we can’t do pretty much anything else, but this is out of hand. Hiking in large groups is not social distancing. Parking in overpacked lots is not social distancing. Walking in a single-file on trails because of how crowded they are is not social distancing.

So many people are suffering from being ill or grieving lost family members and friends. Health-care professionals are risking their lives to take care of those with COVID-19. We are failing to recognize the harsh realities of what is happening around the U.S. right now. Continuing to hike increases the risk of exposing others, including our loved ones. Don’t we owe it to all of us to help flatten the curve?

It may seem like we do not need to stay home or practice social distancing as severely as other Americans, but this crisis is the harsh reality. Come down and see how crowded my neighborhood has gotten and question whether it is a necessity that the forest stays open?

Many people will say I am overreacting or will be upset to read this, but this measure will have been worth it in the end, because it will save lives.

Melissa Rubalcava is a Tucson native and graduate student pursuing her master’s degree in international relations at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs in Syracuse, New York.

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