Wisconsin state parks to remain open during coronavirus alert

This may be the first spring where I haven’t been planted on a seat adjacent to a baseball field in better than a dozen years.  I do feel bad about that, but luckily my son Blake is only a sophomore so there are still plenty of innings to be played once this coronavirus madness ends.

A person can either sulk or make some lemonade out of lemons and take advantage of this downtime. Make your arrow groups tighter and your time on the water more prevalent.

The good news is that the Wisconsin DNR announced yesterday, March 19, that Wisconsin state parks and trails will remain open to the public. Recent guidance from the Department of Health Services (DHS) recommends canceling or postponing gatherings of 10 people or more to help protect Wisconsinites, visitors and staff from the spread of COVID-19, particularly those who are most vulnerable to infection and severe disease, but unless you’re in some sort of tournament where large groups gather, for now the family can get outside and blow off some steam at state parks and trails.

“We recognize that spending time outdoors benefits physical and mental health. Getting outdoors can also help relieve stress, especially during this public health emergency. A quiet walk does wonders to reduce our anxieties,” said DNR Secretary Preston D. Cole. “The DNR is committed to providing a safe environment for our visitors to enjoy, while protecting the health of our staff.”

Park staff will be sweeping the grounds to make sure there are no large gatherings, and there are some changes to the general policies of state parks. Fees will be now be collected at voluntary registration and all state park offices.  Visitor centers, and non-essential buildings for duration of public health emergency will be closed.

Restrooms on state properties will remain open provided there are enough resources, cleaning supplies and access to personal protective equipment for staff to maintain them.

All campsites (Individual, group, and indoor) are closed through April 30 and refunds will be issued to all customers.

This is certainly a time when I’m glad my dad got me into hunting and fishing.  Back then it was more for sport than nutritional proteins.  I remember, back then before catch and release, I wanted to keep every fish we caught.  As I matured, I favored the adrenaline of tussling with a 3-pounder far more than their taste in hot oil with a side of taters.

Now, I’ll still practice catch and release, but I may spend a few more hours on Lake Michigan cashing in on some salmon.  Heck, a few of those can fill a freezer in no time.  I’ll still be disciplined, of course, and not be a glutton.

I also wonder if the DNR might consider opening up deer season a little earlier this year?  Heck, a plump buck or doe can feed a family for quite a while if rationed and or served with some other kinds of produce.  You’d want to wait until the fawns have dropped and stable of course and there are probably counties up north where that wouldn’t be an option, but around these southern farm zones, it probably would be fine.

Keep in mind, too, I’m not talking about using the extra tags and bonus tags early, but just being able to harvest a deer in July rather than in mid-September.  It might cause people to buy gear a little earlier, too.

As a person who makes his living in the hunting, fishing, and camping space with my full-time job I’m obviously worried that certain things might be affected.  Less advertising?  Lots of products are made overseas. Will they be shipped?  Will mom-and-pop bait shops be around?  Will ammo be hard to find (luckily, I have a ton)?

But the optimist in me thinks that maybe people will spend more time hunting, fishing, and trapping and purge themselves of big groups, fast food restaurants, and other things that take time away from family.

It could be considered a time of investment.  Not just in a bear market, but also in your family in a space that doesn’t have bases, tickets, or McDonald’s wrappers?  Maybe this could be considered a wake-up call and a time to travel a new trail or explore a lake you’ve never fished?

It’s a rotten time right now, no doubt.  But if you know how to hunt or pitch a tent you’re a heck of a lot better than a dude that considers it a tough day when the line at Starbucks is too long.  We’re far better off than a person who doesn’t know how to set a hook or draw a bow.

We’ll all get through this and just be glad if things go really south we have the knowledge to not simply survive based on what the government gives or what item the grocery store still has on its shelves.

Categories: Wisconsin – Dan Durbin

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