The onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic has affected, in some way, virtually every person in the region. An event like this is unprecedented in the modern history of our country. Anyone reading this …
The onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic has affected, in some way, virtually every person in the region. An event like this is unprecedented in the modern history of our country. Anyone reading this column has probably been keeping up to date on the pandemic crisis. It is not my intention to add to an information overload on this subject, but instead, offer up some ideas for a bit of a respite in the form of outdoor activity.
First of all, if your state or region is under a stay-at-home order, the order will have exemptions (as it reads now) for outdoor activities such as walking, hiking and other activities where you can maintain social distancing (six feet away from other people). Many folks are likely walking around the block doing just this. Team sports are not advised, nor playing catch, unless you’re all living under the same roof.
As of the end of March, all hiking trails that were open before the crisis are still open for the state and federal agencies in the region. In addition, National Park Service access areas are open along the river for boating and fishing. Most facilities, such as restrooms, are closed, as well as Pennsylvania Game Commission shooting ranges. Trash collection is curtailed in most areas, so be prepared to pack out what you bring in.
Hunting and fishing activities are unaffected, though you should avoid crowds at favorite fishing spots; the elbow to elbow scenario in some spots for trout opening day will not work for social distancing. The PA Fish and Boat Commission recommends that if your spot is crowded, find another spot; they also advise not to share bait, fishing tackle and other supplies with someone else you would ordinarily be utilizing social distancing with.
On Saturday, April 25 in NY and PA, the youth-mentored spring gobbler season opens. It is a good opportunity to get out with your son or daughter into the field. Regular spring gobbler season runs through the month of May, so hikers should use caution when hiking on land that is open for hunting; stick to the main trails and wear florescent orange clothing or at least a hat.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a highly dynamic situation which will likely cause additional changes in parks, public lands and travel in general. Make an effort to remain informed; check for updated information if you are planning a trip to public lands. Again, practice social distancing and follow guidance from medical authorities.
If you do go out, be safe, stay healthy and enjoy!