Fremont closes down public access to Sandusky River sites
Even though Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine did not announce any new restrictions on accessing state parks to help put the breaks on the spreading of coronavirus (COVID-19), at least one local government is taking matters into its own hands.
DeWine’s April 2 daily news briefing saw the governor saying the stay-at-home/six-foot radius social-distancing rule will be renewed beginning April 6. A few new additions will be included, though of minimal impact to sportsmen and sportswomen.
The governor stressed the importance of the orders, saying how observing the two-pronged effort is required to assist in prevent the disease from leap-frogging through Ohio society.
“We thank you for what you are doing (and) we thank for your sacrifices,” DeWine said, kicking off his coments.
“We have accomplished a lot… but this is not over yet,” the governor said.
DeWine did say he is aware that many parks have experienced crushing numbers of visitors that have sometimes overwhelmed recreation areas of all kinds. Yet he said his order will not include any additional restrictions on access to them.
“We are not closing state parks, but if have a park with too many people the (Ohio Department of Natural Resources) director can take whatever action is necessary,” DeWine said.
DeWine said also he expects – and hopes – that out-of-staters who come into Ohio will self-observe a 14-day period of self quarantine.
“That’s for everyone’s safety,” DeWine said.
However, it has been noted in the media that many visitors of the state parks system’s Lake Erie boat launches are being used by out-of-state anglers. These anglers have come from neighboring and adjacent states to as far away as Wisconsin, observers have noted.
Some localities, though, are working on their own CVID-19 control measures. Among them is Fremont in Sandusky County and sliced by the Sandusky River. The 17,375-population city is the stream’s hub for annual spring runs of both walleye and white bass. As such it is a popular go-to angling destination for people living outside of Sandusky County.
On April 1, Fremont’s Mayor Daniel R. Sanchez announced how his city –“in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our community.” has decided to close all of its fishing access to the Sandusky River, and would encourage all businesses to prohibit parking for this purpose.”
Yet it’s not the fishing itself that’s behind the prohibition, Sanchez says in his letter.
Rather, says, Sanchez, “The city is unable to provide adequate facilities such as restrooms and hand washing stations for visitors.”
Likewise, the city’s general purpose and food stores “are struggling to keep their shelves stocked, and the influx of sportsmen would deplete our resources even further,” Sanchez says in his letter, adding the decision “..was made for the health, safety, and well-being of our residents.”
At the same time, parks systems along Lake Erie that are currently very busy with angling interests, stress they are all open but that visitors really do need to double down and observe social distancing as well as personal hygiene.
In its “Please Help Keep Our Parks Open” campaign, Cleveland Metroparks repeats the federal government and state governments’ protocols for dealing with the COVID-19 as relates to the system’s 18 units.
Among them is the Rocky River Reservation through Cleveland and various suburbs. This stream is arguably the most popular steelhead angling river stocked by the Ohio Division of Wildlife with the migrating trout species. Some spot road closures.
“It is critically important that everyone practices social distancing at all times while in the parks. That includes providing other guests with proper space of at least six feet,” said Cleveland Metroparks’ Executive Director Brian Zimmerman.
Further west, the Maumee River is enormously popular during the spring and is even more acclaimed for its run of walleye than is the Sandusky River. And here Metroparks Toledo operates its Side Cut Park, which is equally prominent with eager walleye anglers.
Like Cleveland Metroparks, Metrparks Toledo encourages visitors to observe the health-associated protocols for the public dealing with COVID-19.
Elsewhere, Mike Parker, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, said his state is still pressing forward with its annual inland trout fishing season opener, set for April 18. This season opener annually attracts scores of eastern Ohio anglers who vie for some of the hundreds of thousands of trout the Fish and Boat Commission stocks.
“This is not going to be your typical season opener,” Parker told Ohio Outdoor News. “Fishing traditions are being disrupted, but we’ve raised these fish as much as we can and they have to be released.”