State by state, different rules have been implemented regarding outdoor recreation during the COVID-19 pandemic. These rules have led to confusion at best and anger at worst. Many have argued against closures of parks and open spaces, limits on boating, and changes to hunting and fishing opportunities. Thankfully, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
So many of us who live an outdoor lifestyle have maintained the mindset that the outdoors is the best place to be during these unprecedented times. Yet, we still need to take precautions. There is now a large consortium of conservation organizations coming together to collectively call for responsible recreation.
“The Responsible Recreation campaign seeks to engage all who are enjoying the outdoors safely and responsibly, “said Ron Regan, Executive Director for the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies. “We encourage everyone to recreate locally, be safe, be prepared, and be respectful.”
It is great to see organizations of different specific missions, like hunting, fishing, and general outdoors coming together in support of #ResponsibleRecreation. Some of the big names you might recognize, or even better belong to, are National Wild Turkey Federation, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, Trout Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, and Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.
“Whether participating in hunting, fishing, shooting sports, or numerous other outdoor activities, individuals and families are getting outside as a means of coping with the challenges of this health crisis,” said Whit Fosburgh, TRCP’s president and CEO. “The conservation community recognizes that this is a privilege, one that sportsmen and women take very seriously. Just as we’ve stepped up to fund conservation efforts and recover at-risk species, hunters and anglers have yet another opportunity to lead by example and ensure that outdoor recreation can continue to delight and facilitate healing for anyone who ventures outside.”
All of these groups want to see citizens of every state enjoying the outdoors across our nation’s public lands and waters. They are just trying to encourage everyone to use social distancing guidelines while adhering to other best practices in line with recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Now more than ever, Americans want to recreate outdoors for the health, physical, and social benefits,” says Jessica Wahl Turner, executive director of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. “As our country begins to reopen, we encourage outdoor enthusiasts to continue practicing social distancing, respect the communities you visit, and follow the health guidelines applicable to your activities. If we work together to steward the outdoors and keep safety top of mind, we can help our public lands and waters remain open and get our recreation economy and jobs back on track.”
Here is a list of guidelines from the #ResponsibleRecreation website:
- Plan ahead; purchase licenses and park passes online, if available.
- Recreate close to home
- Adhere to best practices for avoiding COVID-19
- Follow state and federal guidelines
- Pack out your trash as a courtesy to others and to avoid the appearance of overuse
- Share your adventures in a respectful way on social outlets
If you would like to learn more or sign the #ResponsibleRecreation pledge, visit www.responsible-recreation.org.
See you down the trail…
Pic: Social distancing outdoors is easy, but precautions should be taken to ensure for #ResponsibleRecreation.
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