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Nature is the Respite for Coronavirus Concerns in Nebraska

Though we are in uncharted territory with COVID-19 regarding advisories and mandates, truly there is no better place to gain easy personal solitude or social distancing from the virus than in nature!

All state park area grounds are open!

They are not closed! They remain open to you for all sorts of outdoor pursuits – Sightseeing, picnicking, running, hiking, biking, camping, wildlife watching, fishing, mushroom hunting, etc. The Cowboy Trail is also open for use.

Enjoying time in our state park areas can sure provide a nice, refreshing break.

Just remember to purchase your state park and fishing permits in advance of your trip, if possible. Go online through the Game and Parks website: OutdoorNebraska.org If you plan to camp, bring cash or a check with you to pay for your camping fees via a self-registration drop box on the area called an Iron Ranger. Daily park permits are also available at the Iron Ranger.

Beautiful Smith Falls State Park in north-central Nebraska near Sparks. Photo courtesy of NEBRASKAland Magazine/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Float your double-pointed boat!

Say, if you’re looking for what some at Game and Parks refer to as “paddle therapy” to cure your cabin fever, be sure to look into our water trails. Or, you might even consider casting a fishing line from a kayak at one of our lakes. Keep in mind our water trails are open year round but always do your homework before heading to a river or creek. Check water levels, conditions and access points along rivers and creeks with conservation officers. In addition, water temperatures are still quite cold and only go on the water if you have a good, U.S. Coast-Guard approved life jacket, the proper clothing and necessary equipment.

Spring kayaking on the waters of the scenic Platte River near Platte River State Park in southeastern Nebraska. Photo by Greg Wagner/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Go fish!

If there ever was a time to “go fish,” with everything that is happening in this world, it is now! Fishing is such a healthy outdoor activity! Anglers can go solo or easily practice social distancing while relaxing on the water. There is plenty of publicly accessible water where you can spread out and fish in Nebraska! All lakes, ponds, reservoirs and river/stream accesses are open, barring weather events. The spring trout stockings continue as scheduled at this time. The Two Rivers Trout Lake near Waterloo is open to pay fishing. You will buy your trout tags on a self-service basis through the kiosk (gatehouse).

Fishing the flowing waters of the Elkhorn River near Waterloo, NE for channel catfish just prior to a gorgeous spring sunrise.. Photo by Greg Wagner/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Gil-obble-obble. Spring wild turkey hunting. Hey, I am going, are you?

COVID-19 is not affecting Nebraska’s popular spring archery and shotgun wild turkey hunting seasons. The Cornhusker State’s spring wild turkey seasons will still open March 25 (for archery/crossbow), April 11 (for youth shotgun) and April 18 (for regular shotgun). All seasons runs through May 31, 2020. Non-resident hunting is still open to non-residents at present. The grounds to state wildlife management areas and walk-in lands  are open for hunting. Turkey numbers are strong. You can purchase turkey permits online. A mobile turkey permit option even exists through an app! For turkey hunting info, go here. I’ll be in the field, will you?

A wild tom turkey displays to hens in a grassy farm field during a nice April day for turkey hunting in northern Douglas County, NE. Photo by Greg Wagner/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Covering safety.

You can go by yourself to Nebraska’s outdoor scene provided you carry your charged iPhone or Android and file a plan with someone; telling them where you are going, when you are leaving and when you are planning to return. Wear your life jacket in a boat. Practice appropriate social distancing, hand washing and and other health recommendation standards. All are simple to do in a natural setting.

Your blogger wears his life jacket in a boat during a bowfishing expedition for invasive Asian carp in a MIssouri River backwater north of Blair, NE. Photo by Zac Hickle of Omaha, NE.

Be well, take care and relish your hours and minutes outside. Oh, and wash your hands often!

Get the latest updates on COVID-19 and how it affects your Nebraska Game and Parks Commission resources at this link.

About greg wagner

A native of Gretna, NE, a graduate of Gretna High School and Bellevue University, Greg Wagner currently serves as the Public Information Officer and Manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission's Service Center in Omaha. On a weekly basis, Wagner can be heard on a number of radio stations, seen on local television in Omaha, and on social media channels, creatively conveying natural resource conservation messages as well as promoting outdoor activities and destinations in Nebraska. Wagner, whose career at Game and Parks began in 1979, walks, talks, lives, breathes and blogs about Nebraska’s outdoors. He grew up in rural Gretna, building forts in the woods, hunting, fishing, collecting leaves, and generally thriving on constant outdoor activity. One of the primary goals of his blog is to get people, especially young ones, to have fun and spend time outside!

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