March 19, 2020
Here’s a state-by-state look at how the coronavirus is impacting the outdoors world.
Compiled from news releases and alerts from state game and fish agencies received by Game & Fish editors. Check back for updates.
Note: Check your state agency’s website for more info on the coronavirus crisis.
Salmon, steelhead fishing re-open
Non-residents may fish and hunt in Oregon again beginning Tuesday, May 5. ODFW is lifting the non-resident restrictions in line with some loosening of restrictions on outdoor recreation in the state and region. Washington state will also reopen to most fishing on May 5. Oregon and Washington will reopen salmon and steelhead fishing on the Columbia River next week.
Learn more here
Michigan updates COVID-19 restrictions; boating opened
Michigan has updated its response to the coronavirus crisis — much of the governor’s stay-at-home orders remain in place — but the temporary ban on the use of motorized boats has been rescinded.
The unpopular restriction previously ordered by Gov. Gretchen Wilson had prohibited motorized boats from Michigan waters, after the DNR “received many reports about heavy use of boat launches across the state and the subsequent congregation of people at these launches in violation of social distancing requirements, and in a manner that threatens public health.” Non-motorized vessels (canoes, kayaks, etc.) were not prohibited.
The restriction was removed from the order last week following strong negative feedback from residents. Social-distancing restrictions are still in place.
Wednesday, the updated COVID-19 executive order was extended until May 15.
Read more here
S.C. reminder: No beaching watercraft
The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources’ (SCDNR) Law Enforcement Division reminds state boaters that Gov. Henry McMaster’s Executive Order prohibiting the beaching or “rafting” of boats on islands, sandbars or beaches statewide is still in effect. Gov. McMaster extended for an additional 15 days the declared State of Emergency, issued in recent weeks to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Executive Order 2020-16, issued by Gov. McMaster on March 30 (which remains in effect), states: “I further direct that the beaching or rafting of boats, whether on a sandbar, lakeshore, riverbank, or island, is prohibited for the duration of the State of Emergency. Vessels must remain underway at all times unless exigent circumstances exist. Anchoring to fish is allowed; however, rafting is prohibited under all circumstances.”
The boating public should be aware that the Executive Order prohibiting beaching includes — but is not limited to — beaching to drop off others, camp, walk, have lunch, gather shells, or go to the restroom. Boaters must keep their boat underway or drifting at all times unless actively fishing or under exigent circumstances. This does not allow boaters to legally anchor and swim. Additionally, the Executive Order allowing municipalities and counties to open coastal beach access points to foot traffic DOES NOT provide for legal access to any beach or sandbar via boat.
Click to see what is closed or canceled in South Carolina
Wisconsin to open parks May 1
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will reopen 34 state parks and forests on Friday, May 1 at the direction of Gov. Evers with special conditions. Under Gov. Evers' Badger Bounce Back Plan, which outlines important criteria for Wisconsin to be able to reopen its economy in phases and includes steps to make sure workers and businesses are prepared to reopen as soon as it is safe to do so, the DNR will modify current operations to maintain the safest environment for visitors and staff.
Due to unprecedented crowds, litter, vandalism and the need to protect the health and safety of our visitors and staff, Gov. Evers directed the DNR to close 38 Wisconsin State Parks, Forests and Recreational Areas on Friday, April 10.
Learn more here
Iowa walleye collection impacted
Iowa's current State of Emergency to help stop the spread of COVID-19 changed how the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) collected walleye this spring to spawn at Rathbun and Spirit Lake fish hatcheries. “Our employees are our most valuable resource,” said Jay Rudacille, DNR Warm and Coolwater Fish Culture supervisor. “Because of the coronavirus pandemic, we only used local staff to collect walleye broodstock and shortened the netting season to reduce staff interactions and maximize the safety of every employee. … We adjusted our goals to limit the time crews were out collecting adult walleyes. Even with reduced walleye collection goals, we will still meet requests for our highest priority needs and locations."
Walleye broodstock collection at Rathbun Lake wrapped up after five nights of netting. It usually takes 8-10 nights of netting in a normal year. The goal at Rathbun Lake was to collect 170 females and three crews exceeded this goal by 26 percent. Two crews at Spirit Lake netted three nights and surpassed the 650 egg-filled females quota by 12 percent. Their netting efforts were supplemented by electrofishing in East Okoboji Lake and the spillway connecting East Okoboji and Spirit Lakes. Two crews netted a total of five nights at Black Hawk Lake, providing nearly 143 quarts of eggs, which exceeded their goal by 43 percent. Staff at Rathbun Fish Hatchery are incubating 544 quarts of walleye eggs, including 143 quarts from Black Hawk Lake. At Spirit Lake Fish Hatchery, 617 walleye females were spawned, producing almost 540 quarts of eggs. A total of 84 million walleye hatchlings will be produced from the 2020 egg collection.
Iowa is one of the top producers of walleye fry (newly hatched fish) in the United States, second only to Minnesota. Because of reduced production goals, the DNR will only release 82.9 million walleye fry this spring instead of the original goal of 142.6 million.
While the majority of walleyes are stocked as fry, some are cultured in Iowa DNR hatcheries and stocked at different sizes. More than 1.1 million two-inch walleyes are expected to be stocked into lakes, rivers, and streams across the state this summer. Larger 6- 9-inch fingerlings (more than 310,000) will be stocked in lakes later this fall.With little natural reproduction, Iowa’s walleye populations rely heavily upon stockings. Walleyes are stocked throughout Iowa into natural lakes, interior rivers, flood control reservoirs and selected larger man-made lakes.
Washington fishing, hunting reopens May 5
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced it will reopen some recreational fishing and hunting in a phased approach following the state’s efforts to limit the spread of coronavirus. The department is asking hunters and anglers to enjoy these outdoor activities only if they can do so locally, while also practicing physical distancing.
Many WDFW wildlife areas and boat ramps will reopen May 5 for day-use only recreation, as will some recreational fishing per 2019-2020 sport fishing rules. All freshwater fisheries will open under standard regulations May 5, as will Puget Sound saltwater fisheries (Marine Areas 5-13), except for halibut, shrimp, and intertidal shellfish harvesting, which remain closed statewide. Coastal saltwater fishing and shellfish harvesting in marine areas 1-4, including coastal clam digs, will also remain closed in consultation with local health departments, who continue to be concerned regarding the potential health impact to their communities from outside visitors. Local hunting for turkey and spring bear will open on May 5, and the spring bear season will be extended until June 30.
“We’ve had so many people doing their part to stay home, and we’re seeing results. We’re now at a point where we will soon be able to begin welcoming people back outdoors,” said Kelly Susewind, WDFW director. “I’m asking people to take what they’ve learned these past few weeks and continue putting these measures into play as you fish, hunt, and enjoy your local wildlife area. We’re happy to reopen these opportunities, and we need you to continue working with us to stay safe.”
Learn more here
New guidelines in Minnesota
The DNR and Minnesota Department of Health collaborated to create new outdoor recreation guidelines for use during the COVID-19 pandemic. These guidelines apply to both recreational facilities and the public and are based on Governor Walz’s Emergency Executive Order Allowing for Safe Outdoor Recreation (EO 20-38). Following these guidelines will help protect you and your fellow Minnesotans from this health threat. You can enjoy the outdoors while doing your part to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Here are some guidelines you should observe whenever you’re outdoors:
- Practice social distancing (stay at least 6 feet from people from other households). This isn’t just for parks and trails – it is also essential at boat launches, fishing piers, and hunting lands, and anytime you leave your home.
- Stay as close to home as possible. This is not the time to be traveling long distances to recreate. Cherished outdoor traditions further from home will be there for you later, after the public health situation has eased.
- Do not host or attend gatherings with people who aren’t members of your immediate household. This includes gatherings like outdoor cookouts or barbeques, because those types of gatherings could spread COVID-19.
- Explore the range of nearby public lands available to you. If you arrive at a park, water access site, or other public recreation land and see that it is busy, choose a different option. This will allow you to maintain social distancing, and reduce impacts on staff and resources. Also, consider visiting at off-peak times, typically early or late in the day.
- Do not carpool to outdoor recreational activities with people other than those in your immediate household. Similarly, do not share equipment.
Click for more
Iowa extends closures
The DNR is extending closures of campgrounds and other park facilities through May 14, 2020 to help protect the health of visitors and staff during the COVID-19 health emergency. State parks and forests remain open for day-use opportunities, but visitors are reminded to strictly abide the social distancing rules and not gather in groups.Facilities that will remain closed through May 14 include:
- Campgrounds, including youth and group camps
- Bathrooms, including pit latrines and port-a-potties
- Cabins, shelters and lodges
- Visitor centers and museums
All programs and events at state parks are cancelled or postponed through at least May 14, 2020. Watch for updates at iowadnr.gov
Georgians following COVID-19 standards
As news headlines are filled with reports of people continually and blatantly disregarding social distancing orders in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Georgia DNR’s Colonel Thomas Barnard says his game wardens are reporting that most people are following Governor Brian Kemp’s Executive Order (EO), and those that are not, are unclear on the details and are compliant when asked to disperse.
“I believe most people want to do their part in helping to stop the spread of the Corona virus,” said Barnard, Director of the agency’s Law Enforcement Division. “Those that we do find in groups just don’t know, understand, or remember the specifics of the Order. But once our officers explain it to them and ask them to disperse, they are very cooperative.”
In fact, in the 7,844 cumulative hours that game wardens worked on enforcement of the EO between March 31st and April 19th, they documented verbal warnings to 476 individuals and made only one felony arrest. In six cases, the officers dispersed groups of 30 or more and all were compliant. Learn more.
Bass Pro Shops’ Morris to make mask donation
Johnny Morris, the founder of the Springfield, Mo.-based Bass Pro Shops, is personally donating one million FDA-approved ASTM Level 1 Procedure Face Masks to healthcare workers and first responders manning the front lines of America’s battle against the disease.
Read our report
Wisconsin DNR: No Motors in Michigan Boundary Waters
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources reminds Wisconsin boaters using the Michigan-Wisconsin Boundary Waters that the waters are governed by a joint agreement between Michigan and Wisconsin. Michigan’s COVID-19 "Stay Home, Stay Safe" Executive Order prohibits the use of a motorboat, jet ski or similar watercraft (includes gas and electric motors) in Michigan waters for the duration of the Executive Order, which is currently set to expire at 11:59 p.m. April 30. Users of these boundary waters must pay attention to their location and follow the laws of the state they are in.
"The waters in Michigan territory are subject to that state’s laws while Wisconsin retains jurisdiction on waters within the state of Wisconsin," said Capt. Dave Zebro, DNR Regional Conservation Warden. "This boating order is similar to when a person operates their car into Michigan, and we are subject to Michigan traffic laws."
This order only applies to motorboats underway by the use of motor in Michigan waters. Boaters are asked to keep their motor out of the water while in Michigan waters to aid law enforcement with the enforcement of this order.
A boater can be floating on Michigan waters without the use of their motor and use non-motorized boats such as canoes, kayaks and sailboats anywhere in Michigan waters," Zebro said.
Under Michigan's ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ order, if a Wisconsin boater ventures onto the Michigan side of the Boundary Waters while underway of their motor, that boater is in violation of the Michigan order. "This has nothing to do with boating laws. The states have an agreement that anglers can use either state's fishing license on any part of the boundary waters," Zebro said. "This is a situation of states having specific orders for how to operate under the COVID-19 emergency."
Calif. OKs CDFW to restrict fishing, as needed
The California Fish and Game Commission voted unanimously to grant the California Department of Fish and Wildlife the power to temporarily restrict recreational fishing, if deemed necessary, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Specifically, the commission approved the proposal, which would allow "temporarily delay, suspend or restrict recreational fishing if the director of CDFW, in consultation with the president of the Commission, finds that such action is necessary to protect against the threat from COVID-19 based on state, federal, local, and tribal public health guidance and public safety needs," according to a news release.
The commission said the temporary authority, which expires May 31, is "designed to be responsive to local county level and tribal needs, like the requests CDFW and the Commission received from Alpine, Inyo and Mono counties to delay the April 25 Eastern Sierra trout opener."
As of April 14, California had reported more than 24,000 confirmed cases and more than 800 deaths
"I understand Californians desperately need the outdoors for solace, reinvigoration and spirituality, especially so right now," said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham in the news release. "The proposal was never about a statewide permanent closure. It is about being responsive to local needs in this public health emergency, where we must do all we can as Californians to help each other make it through this together. We intend to use this authority surgically and based on local needs and knowledge."
"Governor Newsom recently said we expect a mid-May peak of COVID-19 and we must prepare for that surge," added Commission President Eric Sklar. "[The] decision is a smart and responsible approach to be ready. It does not delay or restrict specific fisheries or waters, but rather prepares us to expeditiously do so if needed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19."
Click for COVID-19 updates in California
Anglers react to Mich. decision to ban motor boats
Michigan's COVID-19 restrictions includes not allowing the use of motorized boats. You can go fishing, but not in a boat (unless it's self-powered). Read more here
Wyoming suspends nonresident licenses
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is suspending the sale of nonresident daily and five-day fishing licenses, effective immediately. This suspension is due to the need to ensure individuals coming into Wyoming for a non-work related purpose comply with Governor Gordon’s April 3, 2020 Directive requiring a fourteen day quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic. Individuals are responsible for complying with all state and local orders.
Florida COVID-19 small biz assistance list
Florida Sea Grant is maintaining a curated list of disaster assistance options for Florida’s coastal businesses disrupted by COVID-19. The list contains links to details about well- and lesser-known options and includes "quick takeaway" overviews of each assistance program. The page also houses a collection of links to additional useful resources, including materials in Spanish.
"There is a lot of information floating around out there," says Andrew Ropicki, Florida Sea Grant natural resources economist and one of the project leaders. "We are trying to provide a timely and accurate collection of resources that will be useful for Florida coastal businesses."
The project team — which includes experts from Florida Sea Grant, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Extension, and the UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues Education — stresses that the best place to start an application for disaster aid is to visit with your bank or lender and the Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC). They also suggest contacting local representatives by telephone or email and not to just rely on internet-based applications.
"[I] really appreciate the outstanding work that you and FSG have done on consolidating the various types of aid available to fishermen due to the virus," said Bill Kelly, executive director of the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen's Association, in a recent email. "I've been searching for a list like this and you just provided it."
To view the list and additional resources, click here -- Rhett Register
Minn.: Egg take operations canceled
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will cancel its 2020 egg take operations for walleye, northern pike, muskellunge and steelhead because the work cannot be done safely under COVID-19 social distancing guidelines. Collecting eggs and sperm from spawning fish in the wild is a labor intensive effort that requires teams of six to eight people working in close proximity. After a careful examination of whether the egg take process could be re-engineered, the DNR determined that is was not possible to safely handle fish during the egg take and practice appropriate social distancing to protect staff from COVID-19.
The DNR collects eggs each spring to hatch, raise and then release either as fry or fingerlings to stock Minnesota waters that have low or no natural reproduction of these fish species. While this stocking is important to maintain fish populations and angling opportunities over time, missing one year will not cause long-term harm to the fish population of any waterbody.
Canceling egg take activities means walleye eggs and fry will not be available for the DNR’s cooperative fish management programs with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and White Earth Nation. In addition, the DNR will not be able to fulfill requests from private sector hatcheries to purchase eggs and fry in 2020.Since hatchery rearing ponds will not be in use, the DNR will lower the water levels in many of these ponds to improve long-term productivity and future fish-rearing capacity.
Minnesota joins some other Midwest states including South Dakota, Michigan and Indiana in suspending egg take operations. In addition, the USFWS canceled all planned lake sturgeon production for 2020.
More on Minnesota’s response to the coronavirus
Missouri online education
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the National Wild Turkey Federation, and Missouri Disabled Sportsmen invite new adult turkey hunters to an introductory online turkey clinic 3–5:30 p.m. on May 8. To ensure public safety amid the coronavirus pandemic, the clinic will be live-streamed via teleconference technology. In this virtual clinic, participants will learn from experienced instructors about wildlife identification, habits and habitat, regulations, safety, hunting strategies, equipment and game care, and how to increase success in the field. Space is limited. You must preregister by Friday, May 1, by clicking here.
Mo. kids’ fishing events canceled
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) announces that kids’ fishing day events at the state’s trout parks have been cancelled this year amid concerns over the coronavirus (COVID-19). The kids’ fishing day events cancelled include: May 2 at Montauk State Park near Licking and Bennett Spring State Park in Lebanon and May 16 at Roaring River State Park near Cassville and Maramec Spring Park in St. James.
In order to protect the public amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, MDC has extended the temporary closures of its facilities and cancellations of all public events and programs through April 30. Closures include regional offices, Department headquarters in Jefferson City, staffed shooting ranges, nature centers, visitor centers, and education centers. MDC has also temporarily cancelled public events and programs, including hunter education classes, nature center programs and events, shooting range programs and events, and landowner workshops.
More on COVID-19 news from Missouri
N.Y. turkey hunting ed online for new hunters
First-time hunters who want to hunt during New York’s turkey hunting seasons must first earn a hunter education certificate prior to purchasing their first hunting license. This applies to both the regular season, May 1-31, and the youth (ages 12-15) turkey hunting weekend April 25-26. Unfortunately, all traditional hunter education courses have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving many new hunters unable to get a certificate before spring turkey season.
Now there is a new option for earning a hunter education certificate. For a limited time, first-time hunters in New York can complete the required hunter education course entirely online. The online course is available to anyone ages 11 and older and can be completed from a computer, tablet, or smart phone at any time. Students who complete the online course and virtual field day, and pass the final exam, will receive their hunter education certificate and can purchase a hunting license. Only those hunters ages 12 or older may purchase a license and head afield this spring.
The cost of the course is $19.95. The online course will be available April 15 through June 30, 2020 (CLICK HERE).
Can you fish (and more) in Vermont?
Can We Still Go Fishing? This is the number one question the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department has been getting. Everyone is worried that their favorite pastime is off limits right now. Fishing season is not canceled. The most recent amendment to Governor Scott's Stay Home, Stay Safe order continues to exempt outdoor recreational activities, including fishing, for health and exercise. Yes – you can go outside and go fishing. It’s a healthy outdoor activity – good for your mind, body, and soul. After all, we need a reprieve from the stresses we’ve all been under, and fishing is a proven stress-reliever.
Read more about Vermont’s COVID-19 response
California considers fishing restrictions
A teleconference meeting to discuss possible fishing restrictions in California had to be re-scheduled due to the volume of phone-callers causing a ruckus.
Read more here
Kansas: Non-resident turkey hunting permits suspended
In an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, all sales of general nonresident turkey permits have been suspended in Kansas . The suspension is made possible via Executive Order No. 20-21, signed April 9, 2020 by Governor Laura Kelly. Nonresident hunters who made their spring turkey purchase prior to the order’s effective date may still participate in Kansas’ spring turkey season; however, KDWPT is encouraging those hunters to instead consider accepting a refund or KDWPT gift card. Hunters traveling from states listed on the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s “Travel Quarantine List,” referenced here, must self-quarantine upon arrival for 14 days prior to hunting and/or checking into a state park cabin.
Ky: Non-resident turkey sales suspended
Effective immediately, standard nonresident spring turkey permits for 2020 will no longer be sold in order to conform to Gov. Andy Beshear’s executive order and current CDC guidelines to minimize the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus. Only non-resident hunters who have already purchased 2020 spring turkey permits, and can comply with the Governor’s Executive Order No. 2020-266 should consider hunting in Kentucky during the spring season. The order requires all non-residents who travel to Kentucky to self-quarantine immediately for 14 days upon arrival.
Most hunting and fishing opportunities are open in Kentucky. Click for updates
Wisconsin closes 40 state parks, forests, rec areas
Due to unprecedented crowds, litter, vandalism and the need to protect the health and safety of our visitors and staff, Gov. Evers has directed the DNR to close the following Wisconsin State Parks, Forests and Recreational Areas effective Friday, April 10:
- Northeast Region: High Cliff State Park.
- Southeast Region: Big Foot Beach State Park, Harrington Beach State Park, Havenwoods State Forest, Kohler-Andrae State Park, Kettle Moraine State Forest Lapham Peak, Loew Lake, Mukwonago River, Northern Unit, Pike Lake, Southern Unit, Lakeshore State Park and Richard Bong State Recreational Area.
- South Central Region: Aztalan State Park, Belmont Mound State Park, Blue Mound State Park, Cadiz Springs State Recreational Area, Capital Springs State Recreational Area, Cross Plains State Park, Devil's Lake State Park, Fenley State Recreational Area, Governor Dodge State Park, Governor Nelson State Park, Lake Kegonsa State Park, Lower Wisconsin Riverway, Mackenzie Center, Mirror Lake State Park, Natural Bridge State Park, Nelson Dewey State Park, New Glarus Woods State Park, Rocky Arbor State Park, Sauk Prairie State Recreational Area, Tower Hill State Park, Wyalusing State Park, Yellowstone Lake State Park, Gibraltar Rock State Natural Area, Pewits Nest State Natural Area, Parfrey's Glen State Natural Area and Dells of The Wisconsin River State Natural Area.
These properties are open to turkey hunters during the season (April 15 - May 26) where allowed.
Several parks have had record attendance recently. For the weekend of April 4-5, High Cliff had an estimated 16,457 visitors, Lapham Peak had 11,168, Kohler-Andrae had 8,469, Devil's Lake had 7,647, Richard Bong had 3,884, and Mirror Lake had 2,870. Harrington Beach had an estimated 3,639 visitors for the weekend and more than 5,600 for the month of April. By comparison, the average monthly visitors at Harrington for the past 12 years is 9,695 for the entire month of April.
"Under the Safer at Home order, we must do all that we can to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus,” the DNR said in a news release. "The DNR understands the public's need to enjoy the benefits of nature during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the Safer at Home order recognizes outdoor activity as an essential activity, people wishing to take a break outdoors are advised by public health officials to exercise in your local neighborhoods and maintain a social distance of 6 feet or more."
"We know there are benefits to getting outdoors. By not doing this would put people's lives at risk," said DNR Secretary Preston D. Cole. "With the weather warming we are seeing increases in visitors and a myriad of challenges surrounding social distancing. In order to the protect the public, this is a necessary step.”
Read more about Wisconsin and the coronavirus
Oregon extends Columbia River closure
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announced that recreational salmon and steelhead fishing in Oregon waters of the Columbia River will remain closed indefinitely. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) closed all of Washington’s recreational fisheries on March 25, and in an announcement issued on April 6 extended its hunting and fishing closures through May 4.
The Oregon and Washington departments of fish and wildlife jointly manage Columbia River fisheries. In response to Washington’s closure, and to maintain concurrent regulations, Oregon closed the Columbia River spring salmon and steelhead seasons on March 26.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee have both enacted sweeping measures across the two states to reduce citizens’ exposure to the coronavirus COVID-19, which was classified as a worldwide pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11. In the spirit of these actions, Oregon is also extending its closure. The previously scheduled Joint State Hearing on April 15, to consider additional spring Chinook fishing opportunity has also been cancelled.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has left the remainder of Oregon’s recreational fisheries open, subject to monitoring for voluntary compliance with Gov. Brown’s social distancing Stay Home, Save Lives directive. In a statement issued on April 3, ODFW Director Curt Melcher said the agency would monitor ongoing fishing seasons and modify as necessary if anglers, clammers and others fail to practice appropriate social distancing.
While the Columbia remains closed to recreational salmon and steelhead fishing, tributaries and some lakes remain open subject to Oregon’s 2020 Sport Fishing Regulations.
ICAST still on
The annualICAST trade show is still scheduled this summer in Orlando, but the 2020 International Fly Tackle Dealer show, previously scheduled Oct. 7-9 in Denver, has been canceled.
Read more about this story
Texas State Parks closed by Gov.
At the direction of Gov. Greg Abbott, Texas State Parks will be closed to the public effective at the close of business Tuesday, April 7 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) will continue to stay current with the latest public health recommendations and will announce when a definite reopening date has been determined.
"Given the myriad of challenges and heightened risks of operating the parks at this time, we believe this is the best course of action right now in order to meet the health and safety expectations the state has set out for the citizens of Texas,” TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith said. “All state parks will remain temporarily closed until public health and safety conditions improve. During the closure, staff will continue to steward and care for the parks to ensure they can be immediately reopened to visitors at the appropriate time."
"Outdoor recreational opportunities such as hunting, fishing, biking, jogging, walking, hiking, wildlife viewing, and the like are essential activities for Texas citizens. TPWD will continue to do its part to actively encourage and promote these opportunities in ways that are safe and close to home," said Smith.
Read more here
What's open, closed in Minnesota?
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Monday announced that the state’s 2020 Governor’s Fishing Opener has been postponed until next year due to the coronavirus outbreak. An annual tradition since 1948, the event was slated to take place May 7-10 in Otter Tail County in the west-central part of the state and home to more lakes (1,048) than any other county in the U.S. Next year’s event is scheduled for May 6-9 in Otter Tail County.
Despite the event’s postponement, the state’s 2020 fishing season will still open on May 9.
What is open?
- Minnesota’s waters. You can fish if you have a license. Normal seasons and regulations apply.
- Hunting seasons. There are no changes to upcoming hunting seasons. Normal regulations apply.
- State parks. Bathrooms, vault toilets and shower buildings currently open will remain open. Other facilities are closed (see below).
- Public land. Wildlife management areas, state forests, and Scientific and Natural Areas are open for recreation. Campgrounds are closed.
- Public water accesses. State-managed public accesses are open, though the availability of amenities, such as docks, are contingent upon seasonal maintenance.
What is closed?
The following DNR-managed facilities:
- Campgrounds, group camps, remote and dispersed camping at all state parks, state forests, and state recreation areas.
- Camper cabins
- Overnight lodging facilities
- Group centers, trail centers and other ancillary buildings
- Visitor centers
- State park contact stations
Social distancing equivalents
New Mexico Department of Game & Fish’s messaging about COVID-19 includes an image translating what 6 feet of social distancing looks like. Apparently, if you have four roadrunners between you and someone else, that's sufficient.
Click here for more on what New Mexico is doing
Iowa closes campground, play areas
In a proactive effort to prevent further spread of Covid-19, Iowa Governor Reynolds signed a proclamation closing all public campgrounds, cabins and yurts temporarily, as well as all outdoor playgrounds through April 30. The proclamation goes into effect at 8 a.m. Tuesday. Those with reservations will be contacted directly by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ Parks, Forests and Preserves Bureau.
State Parks, Forests and Preserves remain open during this time for day-use opportunities, but visitors are reminded to strictly abide the social distancing rules and not gather in groups. Remember to stay home if you feel sick, wash your hands regularly, avoid touching your face, and bring supplies from home including disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer and other hygiene products. All restroom facilities, including pit latrines and port-a-potties, are closed until April 30 as well.
Governor Reynolds’ and the DNR’s top priority is the health and well-being of our visitors, volunteers and staff. Thank you for your patience and flexibility during this time. We appreciate your support of the Department and our state parks as we all work together to keep everyone safe. These closures will be reevaluated in the future to determine if an extension is necessary.
For more information on State Park closures and what the Iowa DNR is doing to respond to Covid-19.
N.D. fishing-tournament permits revoked
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has revoked all fishing tournaments for April and May due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Tournament sponsors were notified of possible rescheduling options if conditions, including public safety and open calendar days, present itself. In addition, organizers of other permitted North Dakota fishing tournaments scheduled June through October are advised of the possibility of having their permit revoked if the COVID-19 conditions persist.
N.M.: Monastery Lake, Seven Springs Brood Pond Closed
To promote public safety, the Department at sunset Sunday, April 5, 2020, closed Monastery Lake Open Gate property near the Village of Pecos and Seven Springs Brood Pond located at Seven Springs Hatchery in the Jemez Mountains. Social distancing is a challenge for everyone who enjoys being outdoors, but this is the time for all New Mexicans to pull together for the overall health of all of our citizens and stay home. These closures are necessary to protect our healthcare workers and our small communities.
"We must all do our part to flatten the curve and protect all New Mexicans," said Director Mike Sloane of the closures. The Department of Game and Fish encourages everyone to follow guidelines to stay home, only travel for essential purposes and practice social distancing, staying at least 6 feet from others.
Utah: Shooting Ranges Shut
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources’ two public shooting ranges will be closed beginning Friday, April 3, until further notice, in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19. On March 26, the Lee Kay Public Shooting Range announced a few closures to different areas of the facility due to earthquake damage and to adhere to social distancing directives. However, the DWR decided to close the entire facility, as well as its Cache Valley Public Shooting Range, located in Logan, beginning April 3.
Overnight camping not allowed in Wyoming
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is closing overnight camping immediately until further notice at the Grayrocks Reservoir and Wheatland No. 1 Public Access Areas, and at Cottonwood Draw Wildlife Habitat Management Area located in Platte County. Day use will still be permitted. Game and Fish deemed this closure necessary to be consistent with State of Wyoming health orders, Platte County closures, as well as requests from the Platte County Health Officer and the Platte County Sheriff due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Any situation where there is likely to be increased crowding runs counter to directives from state and local orders,” said Matt Withroder, Laramie regional supervisor. "With other camping in the area closed, this closure is consistent with others in the area to prevent groups of people from congregating in face of the COVID-19 pandemic." All other rules and regulations remain in place on these properties. For all Game and Fish closures, changes, and cancellations visit the Game and Fish COVID-19 webpage.
N.D. paddlefish season shuttered
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is canceling the upcoming paddlefish snagging harvest season due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, there still isthe possibility of a one-week snag-and-release season May 15-21, which is two weeks later than the normal opening day. Fisheries chief Greg Power said safety of snaggers, caviar processors and data collection staff are a major concern.
“Paddlefish snaggers concentrate in large numbers in a small area, and often participate in snagging while shoulder to shoulder,” Power said. “There is no realistic way to maintain proper separation.”
Game and Fish is allowing for the possibility of a one-week, snag-and-release season, Power said, because data strongly suggests considerably fewer snaggers will participate. “The snag-and-release season is considered acceptable as a lower-risk activity for those avid snaggers who just want some time outdoors, usually by themselves,” Power said. If there is a snag-and-release season, anglers would only need a fishing license. A paddlefish tag would not be required.
Wyo. department donates masks, respirators
Recently, protective gear was donated to the Fremont County COVID19 Response Team by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Nongame Program in an effort to distribute equipment to healthcare workers and others at risk. Seven boxes of respirators (totaling 130 masks) and three boxes of nitrile gloves were dropped off at the Response Team headquarters in Riverton. Masks and gloves were leftover from small mammal trapping and black-footed ferret surveys, which are worn as precautions for zoonotic diseases like hantavirus and plague.
If you have gear that you can donate the local group Lander Together, in coordination with the Fremont County Incident Command Emergency Management Team, has organized a personal protective equipment (PPE) drive to keep local healthcare workers stocked. Donation bins are located in the breezeway between buildings at the Lander United Methodist Church (262 N. 3rd Street) from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Or if you are in another location, reach out to your local Incident or Response Management Team for donation opportunities.
SC State Lakes Re-Open for Bank Anglers
Thirteen of the small impoundments that are in the S.C. Department of Natural Resources’ (SCDNR) State Lakes program are reopening to allow bank fishing. The boat ramps and fishing piers associated with these small impoundments will continue to be closed to comply with Governor McMaster’s Executive Order 2020-16 relating to COVID-19.
The 13 small impoundments reopening to allow bank fishing are:
- Draper WMA State Lakes (York County)
- Jonesville Reservoir (Union County)
- Lake Cherokee (Cherokee County)
- Lake Edgar Brown (Barnwell County)
- Lake Edwin Johnson (Spartanburg County)
- Lake George Warren (Hampton County)
- Lake John D. Long (Union County)
- Lake Oliphant (Chester County)
- Lake Paul Wallace (Marlboro County)
- Lake Thicketty (Cherokee County)
- Lancaster Reservoir (Lancaster County)
- Mountain Lakes 1 and 2 (Chester County)
- Sunrise (Lancaster County)
Stay safe while fishing for free in Mo.
MDC and the Missouri Conservation Commission have temporarily waived permit requirements for sport fishing and daily trout tags for Missouri residents and nonresidents whose fishing privileges are not otherwise suspended. The waiver of needing a permit or trout tag to fish will run through April 15. Seasons, methods, and limits still apply and will be enforced. Learn more https://mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/mdc-temporarily-waive-fishing-permits-starting-friday. MDC emphasizes that it is still critical for everyone to continue to heed all recommendations for physical distancing, avoiding overcrowding, hand-washing, and other public-health measures while fishing.
South Carolina DNR lakes closed
The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources’ State Lakes are closing immediately to comply with Gov. McMaster’s Executive Order 2020-16 relating to COVID-19.
SCDNR’s state lakes offer fishing access to the public in areas where public fishing is often not easily available. A list and map of the 16 lakes is available here.
Ross Self, SCDNR’s chief of freshwater fisheries, said the State Lakes will be closed for the duration of Governor McMaster’s Executive Order. SCDNR staff are currently in the process of posting closed signs on the properties, according to Self. "We are sorry about this," Self said. "We hope the situation moderates soon so that we can reopen these lakes for public fishing again."
Crowded conditions close Michigan rec area
To help slow the spread of the coronavirus and carry out Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s "Stay Home, Stay Safe" Executive Order, the Department of Natural Resources is closely monitoring visitor levels and adherence to social-distancing measures at Michigan state parks and recreation areas and other DNR-managed locations.
Due to a surge in visitors at state parks over the last two weeks – including at Tippy Dam Recreation Area in Manistee County – DNR staff have observed many instances of improper social distancing (not keeping at least 6 feet between individuals) and visitors traveling long distances to visit these outdoor spaces. Tippy Dam has seen a drastic increase in visitors, including people from all areas of the state. This type of nonessential travel could unintentionally increase the spread of COVID-19. To protect visitors, staff and nearby communities, the DNR has closed Tippy Dam Recreation Area, effective immediately, until further notice. The south side access, which is on land managed by Consumers Energy, also will be closed until further notice.
The closure is a result of a Land Use Order of the Director Amendment No. 4 of 2020 signed by DNR Director Dan Eichinger. Anyone entering Tippy Dam Recreation Area by vehicle, foot or bicycle may receive a civil infraction with fines up to $500.
For now, all other state parks and recreation areas, trails and boating access sites remain open to help provide local opportunities to get outdoors; however, social distancing practices must be adhered to in order to keep these state-managed lands open.
Iowa regs not impacted by COVID-19
Iowa's hunting and fishing regulations are not affected by the current COVID-19 health emergency in Iowa. Despite rumors on social media channels, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has no plans to eliminate seasons, relax regulations or change license prices. "Fishing and hunting regulations exist to protect human safety as well as wildlife populations over the long-term," said Dr. Dale Garner, Conservation and Recreation division administrator at the Iowa DNR. "We balance the long-term sustainability of Iowa's natural resources with the well-being of Iowans, and will continue to take a thoughtful, science-based approach to Iowa's hunting and fishing laws." More information.
New York is open for fishing
New York is open for fishing and the DEC encourages anglers to recreate locally at a nearby waterbody. New York's lakes and streams offer great opportunities for fishing in a wide array of settings across the state. Even during the current COVID-19 public health crisis, getting outdoors and connecting with nature while angling in New York's waters is a great way to help maintain mental and physical health.
The CDC/New York State Department of Health guidelines for preventing the spread of colds, flu, and COVID-19:
- Try to keep at least six feet of distance between you and others.
- Avoid close contact, such as shaking hands.
- Wash hands often or use a hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.
- Avoid surfaces that are touched often, such as doorknobs, handrails, and playground equipment.
When fishing, DEC recommends avoiding busy waters and following the guidelines on DEC's website about fishing responsibly in New York State. If an angler arrives at a parking lot and there are several cars, they should consider going to another parking lot. If an angler is fishing upstream, they should fish downstream of the other angler or consider fishing another day. Anglers fishing from boats should always be able to maintain at least six feet of distance between one another. For more information about the benefits of being outdoors safely and responsibly, go to DEC's website.
Stay updated in Arizona
The Arizona Game and Fish Department is committed to staying connected with its customers and providing exceptional service, while protecting everyone’s health and safety. Get the latest information about changes to processes and procedures, and review frequently asked questions, by visiting the department’s new web page.
In the meantime, all seven department offices statewide are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday (except holidays). Customers also can call the department’s main number at (602) 942-3000, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can conduct most department business online by visiting www.azgfd.gov.
Missouri River System Boat Ramp Status
Anglers looking to enjoy the nice weather this weekend by fishing open water on the Missouri River System can check the status of boat ramps at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s website.
Game and Fish will post ramp status updates as they occur. Department personnel encourage anglers to wait their turn at boat ramps, practice social distancing and follow other guidelines for minimizing the risk of spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Missouri Camp canceled due to coronavirus
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has cancelled a one-day Discover Nature Youth Camp that was planned for June 20 in Lee’s Summit. The plan was for youths ages 11 to 15 to learn outdoor skills at the James A. Reed Memorial Wildlife Area. However, MDC is cancelling some planned programs as a precaution due to the COVID-19 virus.
MDC had been accepting reservations for the free camp. Those who have already signed up will also be contacted directly about the cancellation. MDC wants people to stay active and enjoy the outdoors despite the virus. But please do so within recommended health advisories and policy being set by local communities.
Information about Missouri’s outdoor opportunities.
Upstate South Carolina closures announced
Because large crowds were gathering at the Sassafras Mountain Tower and at Bald Rock Heritage Preserve, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) has made the decision to close the two Blue Ridge Escarpment destinations beginning Saturday, March 28.
Sassafras Mountain, the highest point in South Carolina at 3,883 feet, is in northern Pickens County, and Bald Rock Heritage Preserve is in northern Greenville County, near Caesars Head State Park. Both sites are owned and managed by SCDNR. The remainder of the Jocassee Gorges property is open to public use and officials ask users to follow recommended guidelines and executive orders on keeping people safe by practicing social distancing.
The decision to close both Sassafras Mountain and Bald Rock follows closely the announcement that all State Parks in South Carolina will close beginning March 28 to support the state’s response to COVID-19. SCDNR announced earlier that the beach access at Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve, a popular tourist destination near Edisto Beach in Colleton County, will also close beginning March 28.
Oklahoma Outdoor Areas Remain Open
While offices are closed to the public, all wildlife management areas, fishing lakes and shooting ranges of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, along with all Oklahoma State Parks day-use and RV/tent camping areas, remain open for public use at this time. People wishing to get outdoors during the coronavirus health crisis are urged to do so while adhering to the safety guidelines issued by federal, state and local governments.
However, areas not owned by the Wildlife Department might be temporarily closed to the public at the discretion of the agency in charge of those areas. These areas might include U.S. Army Corps of Engineers properties, U.S. Forest Service areas, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation sites, and municipal parks and reservoirs. People planning to visit outdoor areas are urged to contact the agency in charge of the area to find out if it is open for public use.
While the outdoors are always open, it is also important for everyone to follow the health recommendations related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes social distancing; a good way to comply is to stay at least a fishing rod's length away from others.
To learn more about the status of outdoor areas, here are some online resources:
Many smaller parks and lakes are controlled by local cities and towns. Check with municipal authorities for the closure status of those areas.
People who visit Wildlife Department areas are reminded that normal usage regulations remain in effect. Some WMAs are closed to all nonhunting activities during spring turkey hunting seasons that begin April 4 (for youths) and run through May 6. For specific area regulations, consult the current Oklahoma Hunting and Fishing Regulations Guide found online at wildlifedepartment.com, on the free Go Outdoors Oklahoma mobile app for Apple or Android devices, or in print across the state wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold.
Washington closes fishing state-wide
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is temporarily closing recreational fishing and shellfishing statewide in the wake of Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s order directing Washingtonians to stay home and stay healthy to limit the spread of coronavirus/COVID-19.
The closures began at midnight Wednesday, March 25 and will last until at least 5 p.m. on April 8, 2020. WDFW will re-evaluate on April 6 whether the closure may need to be extended.
"This is not a decision we take lightly, but it’s the right thing to do for the health and well-being of Washington’s families,” said WDFW Director Kelly Susewind. “Monday’s extraordinary order for the residents of our state to stay home requires all of us to work together to ensure these measures have the intended effect."
Fishery managers have reported that some anglers have been seen crowding banks as concerns over coronavirus have continued.
“We’ve seen an uptick in outdoor recreation at some locations in recent weeks as people have looked for ways to get outside,” said WDFW Fish Program Director Kelly Cunningham. “We’ve had reports of crowded boat ramps and busy fishing on some rivers, which runs counter to the governor’s direction to stay home and practice social distancing.”
Read more here
Oregon closing Columbia River fisheries
Following the announcement by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) that it will close all recreational fisheries in the state of Washington, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announced that it will close recreational salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River, effective Thursday, March 26 at 11:59 p.m.
In a press release distributed Wednesday afternoon, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced its decision to temporarily close recreational fishing and shellfishing statewide in the wake of Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s order on actions to limit the spread of coronavirus/COVID-19.
Oregon and Washington jointly manage fisheries in the mainstem Columbia River bordering both states and seek to have concurrent regulations. At this time, other ongoing fisheries in Oregon remain unchanged, and fishing for species other than salmon and steelhead will still be allowed in Oregon portions of the Columbia River as described in permanent rules.
Anglers are reminded to follow the rules for social distancing and maintain at least 6 feet distance from other people and minimize non-essential travel, as directed in an executive order issued earlier this week by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown. ODFW also asks that anglers and the public help ensure the safety of ODFW employees they may encounter in the field who are doing their jobs by maintaining adequate social distance.
As with the Washington closure, ODFW anticipates the Columbia River salmon and steelhead fishing closure lasting at least until April 8, 2020.
Michigan DNR shuts down charter fishing, guide operations
In accordance with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ recommendations designed to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and the governor’s Executive Order 2020-21, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has determined that charter and fishing guide operations that involve boats, canoes and other marine vessels are not currently permitted.
These operations do not meet any of the variances or exemptions outlined in the governor’s order as activities necessary “to sustain or protect life,” and they may also congregate anglers in violation of the order and state health recommendations.
These activities should cease immediately and not resume until at least April 13.
In addition to the DNR’ Law Enforcement Division, Michigan State Police and local law enforcement agencies have full authority to enforce the provisions of this order.The state is taking proactive steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation in reducing the coronavirus risk to Michigan residents.
For current and up-to-date information regarding the Coronavirus visit Michigan.gov/Coronavirus or CDC.gov/Coronavirus.
Missouri waives fishing permits
With the coronavirus crisis building and keeping many folks inside, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and the Missouri Conservation Commission announce they are temporarily waiving permit requirements for sport fishing and daily trout tags for Missouri residents and nonresidents whose fishing privileges are not otherwise suspended.
The waiver of needing a permit or trout tag to fish will run from Friday, March 27, through April 15. MDC will reassess the situation at that point. All season dates and limits will continue to apply and be enforced.
“The current public-health emergency caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) has many Missourians and others looking for safe ways to get outside in nature,” said MDC Director Sara Parker Pauley. “Missouri’s rivers and streams offer high quality fishing as a way for people to connect with nature while still complying with all health and safety recommendations. Fishing is also a great way to get some much needed physical and mental health benefits during this stressful time.”
Read more about the COVID-19 response in Missouri
S.C. coronavirus update
SCDNR continues to monitor COVID-19. In accordance with directives issued by Gov. Henry McMaster, the Department of Health and Environmental Control and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, SCDNR has canceled, postponed or closed several programs and events. View a complete and updated list.
Georgia DNR postposes youth contest
Out of safety concerns regarding the coronavirus, Georgia’s 15th annual Youth Birding Competition has been postponed from April 24-25 to Aug. 29-30. The popular birdathon involves teams of youth from kindergarten to high school seniors counting bird species statewide, then enjoying an awards banquet at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center near Mansfield.
In other event changes announced by the state Department of Natural Resources, the registration deadline has been moved to July 31 and students who complete their senior year in high school this spring or summer will remain eligible to take part in the competition. In early summer, organizers will reassess event plans according to the latest guidelines involving COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. Winners of the T-shirt Art Contest, a separate component of the Youth Birding Competition, also were named today. A peregrine falcon by Alston Li, an eighth-grader in Duluth, landed the grand prize among a record 375 entries . Li’s artwork will be featured on this year’s event T-shirts.
Iowa fishing, hunting regs not affected by COVID-19
Iowa's hunting and fishing regulations are not affected by the current COVID-19 health emergency in Iowa. Despite rumors on social media channels, the DNR has no plans to eliminate seasons, relax regulations or change license prices.
"Fishing and hunting regulations exist to protect human safety as well as wildlife populations over the long-term," said Dale Garner, Conservation and Recreation division administrator at the Iowa DNR. "We balance the long-term sustainability of Iowa's natural resources with the well-being of Iowans, and will continue to take a thoughtful, science-based approach to Iowa's hunting and fishing laws."
For more information about Iowa's hunting and fishing regulations, visit the Iowa DNR website.
Fees waived in Wisconsin
Fees are now waived for all Wisconsin State Parks and Trails that continue to remain open to the public. Parks, law enforcement and property staff will also continue to provide routine sweeps of state park system properties.
Staying home as much as possible is the best way to lower COVID-19 infection rates, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, should you need a place with space, getting outdoors has both physical and mental benefits.
Distance is key during this public health emergency. Please do not congregate at restrooms, self-registration stations or electronic kiosks. Additionally, do not gather in groups of 10 or more people and maintain six feet of distance from others.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources continues to receive the most up-to-date information and will adjust operations as conditions change. We will also continue to monitor on-the-ground circumstances each day to determine if park closures become necessary.
Click for Wisconsin Covid-19 updates
New Jersey: Ranges closed by coronavirus
To mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and in accordance with Executive Order No. 107 signed by Governor Phil Murphy on March 21, 2020, all Division ranges are closed until further notice. The order prohibits all gatherings of individuals unless otherwise authorized by the Order.
We apologize for this inconvenience; however, the Division is committed to take any action necessary to protect the health and safety of the public during this time. Updates as well as an announcement when the closure is lifted will be posted on our website. We will continue to send updates on the ranges and other Division matters to our e-mail lists.
Arizona: Shooting facility closed
PHOENIX — To ensure the safety of customers and staff, the Ben Avery Shooting Facility will close temporarily, beginning Saturday, March 21. The temporary closure will give staff the opportunity to implement new health protection strategies. The facility is scheduled to reopen Thursday, March 26. Visit the website for updated information.
Alabama: State parks naturalists virtual programming
For all those nature lovers who are unable to visit one of the beautiful Alabama State Parks due to the COVID-19 precautionary measures, the State Park Naturalists will bring the parks to you via modern technology.
During the effort to prevent the spread of the virus, the Alabama State Parks Naturalists want to help alleviate stress and anxiety and add some fun to those that may not be able to visit one of our 21 Alabama State Parks.
State Parks Naturalists will host Virtual Naturalist programming via our Facebook pages at five parks - Oak Mountain, Lake Guntersville, Gulf, DeSoto and Cheaha. These virtual programs will be an assortment of Live Facebook videos, short videos, photos, park stories, pictures, and maybe a challenge or two. Go to the Facebook pages for the five individual parks and look for the State Parks Naturalists’ content.
The State Parks Naturalists have also created a survey link to determine what type of content best suits the viewers. Click here to participate in the survey.
Texas: Closures reported
After careful evaluation of the ongoing public health situation, Texas State Parks will be limiting park programming and closing public access to park headquarters, visitor centers and park stores starting at 12 p.m. Thursday, March 19.
“Our main priority has always been the health and wellbeing of our visitors and staff, and in order to maintain this standard to the best of our abilities TPWD facilities will be modifying operations as a precautionary step towards protecting public health,” said Carter Smith, Executive Director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “While we have worked hard to provide access to state parks through much of Spring Break, we have now reached a point where changes are imperative for safety reasons. I am grateful to our State Parks team and volunteers for their valiant work during this exceedingly difficult time and thank our visitors for their patience and understanding as we continue to evaluate additional measures to ensure the safety of everyone in the parks.”
As part of these operational changes, parks will be suspending all cash transactions where feasible. Visitors are encouraged to utilize the self-pay stations, the online reservation system and credit card transactions at this time. Other reduced services include the suspension of equipment rentals and interpretive programs.Park visitors should check the Texas State Parks Alert Maphttps://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/parks-map regularly for the latest information about the status of parks.
In addition to the operational changes at Texas State Parks, TPWD law enforcement and boat registration offices, including the license and boat registration counter at TPWD’s Austin headquarters, will be closing to public visitation at 12 p.m., March 19. Texans needing to purchase hunting and fishing licenses, boat and motor owner transfers, and boat registration renewals are encouraged to visit tpwd.texas.gov or call the department at (512) 389-4800.
South Carolina: SCDNR-related cancelations
Following are SCDNR-related cancellations:
- The antler scoring session at Price's Country Store (March 20)
- John Davis Meet & Greet (March 20)
- Diversity Outreach Program - Wateree River WMA and HP Nature Hike (March 21)
- SC Archery in the Schools Program State Championship (March 24-26)
- The Palmetto Sportsmen's Classic (March 27-29)
- The Youth Bass Fishing Championship (March 27-28) - Postponed
- Coyote Management Workshop – Webb Wildlife Center (April 2-3)
- Fish Brosnan Forest Fishing Rodeo (April 4)
- Table Rock State Park Fishing Clinics (April 4 & April 18)
- Diversity Outreach Program - Congaree Creek Heritage Preserve Nature Walk (April 11)
- Diversity Outreach Program - Volunteer Lab Day at Parker Annex Archaeology Center (April 13)
- Blue Hole Recreation Area Fishing Rodeo (April 25) - Postponed
- Sun City Grandparents Park Fishing Clinics (May 16, June 20, July 18) - Suspended until further notice
- All volunteer lab days at Parker Annex Archaeology Center are canceled until further notice.
Arizona: Online options
The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) is committed to staying connected with its customers and continuing to provide exceptional service.
AZGFD’s highest priority is the safety and wellness of customers, staff, partners and volunteers. As a reminder, outdoor enthusiasts can conduct most department business without having to visit any of the seven statewide offices.
The following products and services are available online 24/7 by visiting www.azgfd.gov
The following services must be conducted in-person or by U.S. mail:
- New watercraft registrations.
- Watercraft transfers of ownership.
- Duplicate watercraft decals and certificates.
- Special licenses (crossbow, CHAMP, pioneer).
The following products and services require visiting a department office:
- Watercraft inspections.
- Duplicate hunt permit-tags (also can be purchased at license dealers).
Michigan: 'Social distancing' tips
No matter how you enjoy the outdoors, we urge you to practice effective “social distancing” and other measures to help stop the spread of the coronavirus and keep you, your family and your community safe:
- Go out only if you’re feeling healthy.
- Stay at least 6 feet away from others when in a public setting, including the outdoors.
- Wash hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If those aren’t available, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
- Minimize UV sun exposure by properly applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 15 or higher.
- When driving, keep windows slightly open to provide air flow.
North Dakota: Game and Fish offers up the outdoors
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department encourages hunters and anglers to make mindful decisions on outdoor activities by following guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Customer, volunteer and employee well-being is of top priority. Earlier this week, Game and Fish canceled upcoming public gatherings such as the National Archery in the Schools state tournament. In addition, several hunter education classes scheduled to begin in the next few weeks were canceled or postponed, and late-season ice fishing tournaments have canceled events to minimize crowding.
Students enrolled in any classes scheduled to start in March or April can find information on class status on the Game and Fish website.
With social distancing in mind, the Game and Fish Department encourages hunters and anglers to purchase licenses online, rather than making an in-person visit. The same philosophy applies to watercraft registrations. Contact a local Game and Fish office for assistance with a purchase or registration.
Iowa: DNR to close Olofson, Banner shooting ranges
Des Moines, Iowa - The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has closed the Olofson shooting range, near Big Creek State Park, and the Banner shooting range at Summerset State Park, through March 31. The closure is based on guidance from state and national health officials to avoid public gatherings of more than 10 people.
South Carolina: SCDNR youth fishing tournament postponed
With growing concerns from COVID-19 and recommendations from both Gov. McMaster and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources has made the decision to postpone the 2020 SCDNR Youth Fishing Tournament scheduled for March 28.
In addition to statewide school closures, we feel it is the safest decision to postpone the tournament.
”We've considered many alternatives and heard your input," said Sarah Chabaane, SCDNR Aquatic Education Coordinator. "I value all the time, effort, and resources that student anglers, coaches, parents and boat captains put into preparing for this event.”
SCDNR will continue to evaluate the options of rescheduling as the next few weeks progress. Additional closures, cancellations and postponements can be found here.
Michigan: DNR closes customer service centers, field offices
In accordance with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ recommendations designed to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Michigan Department of Natural Resources will close to general public traffic numerous customer service centers and field offices statewide.
The closures will take effect at 8 a.m. Wednesday, March 18.
Fishing and hunting licenses, camping reservations and other items will remain available for purchase online. Hunting and fishing guides and digests are also available online. Burn permits are available free at Michigan.gov/BurnPermit.
The affected DNR offices will be open for regular deliveries and by appointment only to customers who need services such as obtaining hunting and fishing licenses, burn permits and charter licenses.
Tennessee: Great outdoors remains open
Even as many schools, churches and offices are closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we remind all Tennesseans that the great outdoors remains open as usual and more inviting than ever. March and April usually bring some excellent fishing opportunities. Also, turkey hunting will kick off March 28th with the statewide youth season, and April 4th for everyone else.
What better way is there to practice ‘social distancing,’ as health authorities recommend, than to seize the opportunity to get outside and enjoy Tennessee’s natural resources.
The recommendation is to stay 6 feet or more away from others as you head outside.
Places that are open for you to get outside and enjoy some sunshine:
Wyoming: Cancellations announced
CHEYENNE— Following federal and state guidance on gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department is announcing the following cancellations and changes to spring events and meetings.
All Game and Fish season setting meetings will move to an online forum.
Oregon: Fish hatcheries to close
SALEM, Ore.—Effective Wednesday March 18, all of ODFW’s state-operated fish hatcheries are closed to public access and all visitors.
The closure is meant to protect staff so they can continue to operate the 33 hatcheries which raise millions of fish critical to the state’s economy and biological systems.
While hatcheries are closed, fish stocking of lakes and ponds continue for now. See the trout stocking schedule here or visit the Recreation Report.
Fishing and other outdoor activities like wildlife viewing, hiking and hunting can enable people to get outdoors and still practice social distancing (staying ideally 6 feet from others). Remember before heading outdoors that besides social distancing, you should stay home if you are sick, wash your hands frequently, cover your cough and sneezes, and take other recommended steps to protect yourself, friends, and family while slowing the spread of COVID-19.
ODFW’s wildlife areas, which are great places to watch wildlife, will remain open for now, except those areas annually closed until spring to protect wintering big game or migratory birds (see list below). However, visitor centers or areas where the public might congregate indoors will be closed. Bathrooms at wildlife areas remain open. More information about wildlife areas is available here.
Kansas: Wildlife, Parks and Tourism commission meeting canceled
PRATT – To ensure the health and safety of the public, commissioners and staff, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) is cancelling its March 26, 2020 commission meeting that was scheduled to be held at the Kansas State Historical Society and Museum in Topeka.
Regulations that were scheduled to be voted on during the public hearing portion of the March 26 meeting will be rescheduled for a future date. Parties interested in providing comment on public hearing items may do so electronically by contacting commissioners here.
To view pending regulation changes, future meetings, or to view video recordings of past meetings, click here.
Alabama: Department updates operations during COVID-19 pandemic
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) is making the following temporary changes to its business operations for the safety of our employees and the general public. The changes are in effect until April 6, 2020.
Alabama State Parks and associated facilities remain open with the exception of cave tours at Rickwood and Cathedral Caverns state parks. Some dining operations will be modified to limit close contact of guests. Park visitors are encouraged to follow all current hand washing and social distancing guidelines. For updates, please follow Alabama State Parks on social media. A social media directory is available here.
State Public Fishing Lakes remain open.
ADCNR shooting and archery ranges remain open.
ADCNR Wildlife Management Areas and Special Opportunity Areas remain open.
ADCNR’s state and district offices are closed to the public with the exception of the Marine Resources Division offices in Gulf Shores and Dauphin Island. Those offices will be open for commercial license sales only on Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
ADCNR Law Enforcement Offices are closed to the public, but remain staffed to answer questions by phone. Contact information is available here. To report hunting or fishing violations, please call (800) 272-GAME.
Conservation Enforcement Officers will continue to patrol state land and waterways and render aid to the public.
Forever Wild tracts remain open for hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, paddling, and hunting -- as permitted.
5 Rivers Delta Resources Center facilities are closed, but the grounds remain open to the public during regular business hours for trail use and kayak launching.
Hunting and fishing licenses are still available online, through the Outdoor AL mobile app, or at various license agents located throughout the state.
Due to the evolving nature of the pandemic, ADCNR recommends calling individual state parks and other facilities if you have questions about reservations or operational hours. Contact information can be found here.
ADCNR apologizes for any inconvenience during this time and we thank you for your cooperation.
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through four divisions:
Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, click here.
Oklahoma: Wildlife department offices to close due to coronavirus concerns
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation headquarters in Oklahoma City and its field offices statewide will be closed to visitors beginning Wednesday, March 18, until further notice. The closure is in response to the Governor's emergency declaration and the need to halt the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
The headquarters and field offices, including the Paddlefish Research Center near Miami, Okla., will remain closed until further notice. In addition, scheduled public events through April 15 are being postponed. These include any physical hunter education classes, aquatic education sessions, and student shotgun and archery events. There are no plans to limit turkey season, which opens April 6, and most controlled hunts will continue but pre-hunt check-ins may be modified.
Department employees will continue serving the sportsmen and sportswomen of Oklahoma by working remotely. "We're encouraging everyone to avoid the lines and get online," emphasized Department Director J.D. Strong. “With our online licensing system in place, it makes it so easy for everyone to get a needed license or conduct other business with the Wildlife Department on their computer or with the Go Outdoors Oklahoma mobile app.”
Licenses and permits will continue to be href="https://license.gooutdoorsoklahoma.com/Licensing/CustomerLookup.aspx" target="_blank">sold online and at regular license vendors. Lifetime license applications may also be submitted and completed online. Customers who experience difficulties online may call the Go Outdoors Help Desk toll-free at (833) 721-1035. The Department’s License Desk can be reached directly at (405) 521-3852 during regular business hours, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The free hunter education course and certification test are available as usual through the ODWC website.
Employees will also continue to respond to inquiries on the Department’s normal public communication outlets including its Facebook page, email messages via the “Contact Us” link at www.wildlifedepartment.com, or via the main ODWC phone number at (405) 521-3851.
Game Wardens will be in service across the state as usual; to contact a local Game Warden, consult the directory here.
Even as many schools, churches and offices are closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Strong reminds all Oklahomans that the great outdoors remains open as usual and more inviting than ever. March and April usually bring some excellent fishing opportunities. And turkey hunting is scheduled to kick off April 4 with the statewide youth season.
Florida: COVID-19 announcements
The health and safety of employees and the Floridians and visitors we serve are a top priority for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). As COVID-19 (Coronavirus) continues to impact our communities, the FWC is taking proactive measures such as canceling and/or postponing meetings and other large group gatherings to protect stakeholders, staff and volunteers. The FWC will provide updates about when events and activities will resume as information becomes available.
Currently, wildlife management areas (WMA) remain open to the public. However, out of an abundance of caution, we recommend hunters and other WMA users monitor the open/closed status of the WMA they’re interested in. Please note, a couple cooperators have closed their recreation sites and/or campgrounds.
The FWC continues to be in close communication with the Governor’s Office, the Florida Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) regarding the most recent COVID-19 status and guidance. For any other questions related to COVID-19 in Florida, please contact the Department of Health’s dedicated COVID-19 Call Center by calling 866-779-6121 or emailing COVIDemail@example.com. The call center is available 24 hours a day. Updates are also available on Twitter and Facebook.
California: CDFW closes license sales counters, visitors centers due to COVID-19
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is temporarily closing areas of high public use including visitor centers and license counters to help slow the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus).
While many business functions will continue during this time, some may be temporarily modified. Before heading to a CDFW facility, please contact the regional headquarters office to determine if that facility is open.
Information on purchasing licenses, permits, tags and other entitlements, can be found on the CDFW website.
Outdoor areas will remain open and available for the public to enjoy. CDFW is responsible for over one million acres of public lands that will remain open. These lands include Wildlife Areas and Ecological Reserves that provide an opportunity to recreate and explore the rich diversity of fish, wildlife and habitats that California has to offer. CDFW recommends that all visitors follow guidance for social distancing (of at least 6 feet) when visiting our public lands. Explore the outdoor opportunities on CDFW public lands.
As the situation continues to change, please check with your local public health agency and adhere to guidance they provide. Please stay healthy and safe.
Minnesota: State parks, recreation areas and public lands remain open
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, in accordance with guidance from state health officials, is postponing, adjusting, and canceling a variety of public events, including open houses, safety education training, naturalist programs and other meetings.
Public engagement on DNR issues and projects is a top priority. As such, the DNR is exploring a range of digital options to support public meetings and other critical engagement opportunities. Minnesotans should check the DNR’s website, DNR social media channels, the DNR’s Information Center, and email updates from the agency.
State park and recreation area changes
State parks, recreation areas, campgrounds, and other public lands remain open to the public for people to enjoy.
“Now is a great time to get outdoors,” said DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen. “Parks are a great place to do some social distancing and enjoy the health benefits of nature.”
However, to ensure we meet state health guidance, visitors will experience some changes in services available. State park visitor centers, contact stations, and other ancillary buildings will be closed until further notice. With contact stations closed, visitors will pay through self-pay and informational kiosks located at each facility. Visitors are also encouraged to purchase daily and annual park passes through the online portal before they visit.
For the time being, state parks naturalist programs are canceled. We are working to determine which of these programs are compatible with social distancing and will resume naturalist programing to the extent possible.
State park bathrooms, vault toilets and shower buildings that are currently open will remain open, with increased cleaning protocols.
Public urged to use online and telephone options
The DNR also is encouraging the public to use social distancing options for doing business with the agency, such as buying or renewing licenses online, calling rather than stopping by your local DNR office, using online or telephone reservation systems, and using email or phone to request information from the DNR’s Information Center.
The DNR has adopted Minnesota Department of Health social distancing guidelines, such as maintaining 6-10 foot distances, at front-counter operations with the public.
Here are events that are postponed at this time:
- All safety education training, including firearms safety training.
- Deer open houses.
- Elk input meetings in northwest Minnesota.
Because this is an evolving situation, please check with your meeting contact or the DNR website for additions and modifications to this list.
For more information
Contact the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or 888-MINNDNR (646-6367). Email the center at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hours are 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
North Dakota: NASP tournament canceled
Following the announced week-long closure of North Dakota's K-12 schools, the National Archery in the Schools Program state tournament scheduled for this weekend in Minot has been canceled due to public health concerns.
With an estimated 1,000 archers in grades 4-12 expected to convene Friday, March 20 at the State Fair Center, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department is following the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that groups cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more.
Alabama: Eastern Indigo Snake and Wildlife Festival canceled
To ensure the health and wellness of the public as Alabama fights aggressively to prevent the spread of coronavirus COVID-19, the Eastern Indigo Snake and Wildlife Festival at the Conecuh National Forest Open Pond Recreation Area scheduled for May 1, 2020 has been canceled.
The Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF), which partners with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forestry Service and Auburn University to hold the event, said the festival will be rescheduled for the spring of 2021.
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through four divisions: Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit www.outdooralabama.com.
New York: DEC announces rainbow trout sampling canceled
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Regional Director Paul D'Amato today announced the cancellation of this year's rainbow trout sampling in Finger Lakes tributaries to reduce the community spread of COVID-19.
Sampling was scheduled for Thursday, March 19, at Naples Creek in Ontario County, and Friday, March 20, at Cold Brook (Keuka Inlet) in the hamlet of Pleasant Valley, Steuben County. Read more.