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COMMENTS BY KIM: Releasing the outdoors

It is nice to see a return to more regular activity in our outdoors. The restrictions due to coronavirus concerns brought a halt to a lot of businesses and outdoor endeavors. We’ve all learned about social distancing and hand washing, at least I hope that’s the case.

Earlier this week Governor Doug Burgum determined that the previous announcement that our State Parks would not be opening until May 21 has been rescinded. Today’s the day, May 9, said Burgum, that our State Parks will begin a partial opening that includes include “no-service” camping.

The Game and Fish Department also announced this week that a paddlefish snag-and-release season will be held May 15-21, another indicator that some normalcy is returning to the great outdoors. The regular paddlefish season this year, which was to open May 1, was canceled due to coronavirus.

I sure hope snag-and-release participants adhere to social distancing guidelines. The same goes for boat ramps, docks, marinas and campgrounds. Coronavirus is still present and courtesy should be shown to others who wish to avoid any unnecessary contact with other people. That means don’t crowd folks on docks, in parking lots, when shore fishing or anywhere else.

Camping at State Parks will be allowed, starting today, with the governor’s recommendation that only “every other campsite” be used if the campsites are determined by park managers to be too close or too crowded.

Additionally, all rental cabins and yurts within State Parks will remain closed until further notice. There will be no concessions or other buildings open at State Parks either. And, said the governor, no equipment rentals will be allowed at State Parks until Memorial Day.

It was nice to see the decision to open up the parks a little earlier than previously anticipated and the implementation of the paddlefish snag-and-release season. Both are good signs that, if all continues to go well, we’ll all be able to enjoy a somewhat normal summer doing what we enjoy in the outdoors.

I’m guessing there will be some set-backs, a few COVID-19 outbreaks here and there, but I think almost everyone knows the risks and is aware of the necessary precautions. I give people credit for doing the right thing. Social distancing and frequent use of hand sanitizer and being outdoors is much better than the alternative.

Stay safe. Enjoy what our state has to offer, now more than ever.

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