How PA did a “soft” launch of trout season, signs of tension with outdoor restricts, and online educational opporunities

Toleration statue looks out over the Wissahickon Valley in northwest Philadelphia on April 11, 2020. [Photo: Kyle Bagenstose]

By Kyle Bagenstose

The week opens with a storm-filled day, and unfortunately looks like it will roll right into cooler and gray weather ahead. Really no signs of those glorious, gorgeous spring days anytime in the near future, but I know I’ll be on the lookout for spots of sunshine this week to get outdoors.

Today’s headlines and highlights

It was also a slow weekend for environmental news in the Delaware Valley. If there’s a continuing trend I’m seeing, it’s tension between those advocating for restrictions on outdoor activities in light of COVID-19 and some parts of the recreational community.

There’s a growing list of best practice pieces. The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia has a piece up on how to ride a bike safely during COVID-19, while PennLive’s Marcus Schneck wrote “Outdoor etiquette: How not to be a jerk during the coronavirus pandemic.” The pieces follow our posting last week of basic guidelines for backpacking and camping in Pennsylvania under the new coronavirus, and we hope to have a similar piece up this week for paddling.

Schneck notes in his piece that some outdoor-enthusiasts continue to thumb their nose at the overarching guidance to stay close to home. Some believe that they’re practicing safe social distance even while traveling, while others openly flout the guidance and believe it’s Big Brother-esque.

Along a similar vein, LancasterOnline’s Ad Crable chronicled the surprise “soft” open of Pennsylvania trout season. He details how the decision was made and also reaction from anglers. Crable reported most seemed to understand the need for the change in schedule to help ensure public safety, but again, others were critical of the state and threatened not to buy a license or illegally fish before opening day next year.

For more on the opening of trout season, also check out this 15-minute podcast from the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, in which host Josh Raulerson interviews Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission executive director Tim Schaeffer about the decision to open and his thinking moving forward.

In good news, it seems a number of groups continue to build out online educational offerings and ideas for how to engage with the outside world while staying close to home.

The Audubon Society has re-posted an earlier piece about how to build DIY native plant gardens on a balcony or window, allowing even apartment-dwellers to attract birds and insects to their windows.

On April 24-27, the greater Philadelphia region is also still participating in the City Nature Challenge, a four-day worldwide event that encourages people to observe and record the natural world around them. Using a smart phone app, participants will record whatever species they encounter. Bucks, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties will be participating in Pennsylvania, while Burlington, Camden, and Gloucester are participating in New Jersey.

For any policy wonks out there, the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed also begins a three-part online seminar tomorrow titled “How to Safeguard Clean Water in Your Community.” The seminar will focus on the state’s MS4 stormwater runoff regulations, and basically give a crash course on the legal underpinnings of the program.

Quick news and notes:

  • The Reading Eagle’s Brian Smith writes up the release of Pennsylvania deer season schedule from the state Game Commission. There will be three Sunday hunting dates after the state eased long-held restrictions last year.

And that’s the rundown of today’s environmental news in the Delaware Valley. See something we didn’t cover? Drop me a line at

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