THE SCI SOCIAL DISTANCING GUIDE TO GETTING OUTSIDE
With our nation in the midst of unprecedented circumstances, people are feeling stressed out and anxious. Clinical research has proven that time spent in nature can improve mental and physical health in a variety of ways. If you’ve ever been hunting or fishing, you likely know the mentally restorative and relaxing benefits of isolating yourself in the woods, on a mountain, in a stream, or on a lake. If you find yourself with cabin fever or feel like you’re going stir crazy, maybe a trip off the grid is just what you need.
In an effort to keep the public safe while also offering opportunities to recreate outside, The National Park Service, National Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have all released official statements regarding operational adjustments they’ve undertaken, like closing visitor centers, lodges, boat ramps, and campgrounds. Although in an effort to make sure public land remains accessible even for those currently under financial duress, many of these agencies have waived entrance fees for the time being. Please check each agency’s respective website for more information on what federal public lands and parks are still open and accessible.
State Parks have also been heavily affected by the national emergency. Many State Parks have closed facilities, blocked off access, and in some cases shut down entirely due to safety concerns. Other states have waived entrance fees to their parks in order to ease financial barriers for those looking to find solitude in nature during this stressful time. America’s State Parks has been maintaining an updated list on the status of park systems in all 50 states. It’s a tremendous resource if you’re looking for reliable information on state parks near you.
State Fish and Wildlife Agencies have also been affected by the current pandemic, and many agencies have made operational changes like canceling events and seminars, closing target shooting ranges, boat ramps, and other facilities, and prohibiting access in certain areas. However, there has been a tremendous amount of fake news and misinformation circulating online with claims that hunting and fishing seasons have been cancelled, or that harvest limits and seasons have been waived due to food shortages. These claims are, in most cases, unequivocally false but some of the rumors gained so much traction that state agencies were forced to respond.
In an effort to provide clarifications regarding regulations and information related to hunting and fishing access and opportunities across the country during this period of social distancing, many state fish and wildlife agencies have begun providing frequent news updates or created websites specifically designed to address their operational plans during the pandemic. You can find verified, reliable information on the current status of hunting and fishing seasons and regulations in your state by following the links below: