DELVAL OUTDOORS NEWS ROUNDUP, APRIL 18, 2020

A county park system re-opens, NJDEP sues BurlCo residents for starting massive Pinelands fire, and scientists talk air quality under COVID-19.

Flowers flash their colors through the fence of Greensgrow Fams in Philadelphia. [Photo: Kyle Bagenstose]

By Kyle Bagenstose

Is our middling spring weather a blessing or a curse? This weekend is perfectly “meh,” with unreliable intervals of sunshine coupled with temps hovering around 50 degrees. Then, mostly rain and cooler temps forecasted at least until next weekend.

On one hand, I yearn for those warm, glorious spring days to arrive. On the other, the lack of ideal outdoor recreation weather makes me a little less glum about not being able to hit the trails and campgrounds like I normally would be.

Today’s headlines and highlights

A few days worth of news to catch up on.

Let’s start with a dose of good news, as the Bucks County Courier Times’ James McGinnis reports that the Bucks County park system will re-open to residents on Monday. It wasn’t quite clear what the status of the park system was before, but officials are officially giving the OK for residents to return as long as they practice safe social distancing.

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DELVAL OUTDOORS NEWS ROUNDUP, APRIL 14, 2020

Debates on crowded parks and closures continue in NJ and Philly. A petition to save “Graffiti Highway” in Centralia. And, does PA have its own Tiger Kings?

The moon (rises, sets?) over the Wissahickon Creek on the early morning of April 12, 2020. [Photo: Kyle Bagenstose]

By Kyle Bagenstose

Today brings a fine spring day: mostly sunny skies with temperatures over 50 degrees by morning and adding a few more into the afternoon. Looks like the first of a string of three such days, which are perfect for a just slightly bundled walk, hike, or bike ride.

Today’s headlines and highlights

Let’s start in New Jersey, where Gov. Phil Murphy’s order to shutdown all state and county parks still stands after a week. Radio station New Jersey 101.5 reports that yesterday, some Republicans members of the state Assembly made a push to pass a resolution urging Murphy to rescind the order, calling it a well-intentioned mistake. Assemblyman Jay Webber, from Morris County, didn’t throw any bombs in making the push, instead arguing that other policy options like shuttering only some parks or closing them to out of state visitors would be a better option.

Democrats didn’t buy, shutting down the push in a procedural vote, 52-27. Later in the day, NJDEP commissioner Catherine McCabe released a statement that appeared aimed at offering an empathetic response to those wanting to see parks re-open while still reinforcing the closure.

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DELVAL OUTDOORS NEWS ROUNDUP, APRIL 13, 2020

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.

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DelVal Outdoors News Roundup, April 10, 2020

Philly debates park closings, Water Gap and Allegheny announce closures, Trump admin to open PA, NJ, DE wildlife refuges to hunting and fishing.

The Twin Bridges near East Falls Philadelphia (and a railroad), as seen by kayak on April 6, 2020 [Photo: Kyle Bagenstose]

By Kyle Bagenstose

On Monday, I took my kayak out for the first time this year, to catch some sun on the Schuylkill off Philly’s Kelly Drive. “Maybe I’ll hit it again Friday,” I thought.

Nope: it seems we’ve lost some of that sunshine from earlier in the week and are looking at a high of just 50 degrees under cloudly skies today. But it’s up to 57 tomorrow and maybe even 70 on Sunday, so hopefully there are some opportunities to fish, paddle, or kayak to be had.

Today’s headlines and highlights

Philly parks reaching a boiling point? Perhaps what most caught my eye over the past 24 hours was this editorial from the Inquirer’s editorial board, calling on Mayor Jim Kenney to follow New Jersey’s lead and close all of the city’s parks and facilities. The Inquirer takes the time to note all of the negatives that come from such a decision, but ultimately concludes that it’s in the interest of public health, particularly as crowding has continued and residents have ignored the partial closures of basketball courts and other city assets.

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DelVal Outdoors News Roundup, April 9, 2020

What parks are open in closed, in Philly and beyond? In the good news department, the show goes on for a a local watershed association’s fundraiser, and a new statewide website launches to stop illegal dumping.

The Wissahickon Creek rolls on at a good clip following overnight storms on April 8, 2020. [Photo: Kyle Bagenstose]

By Kyle Bagenstose

Today’s headlines and highlights

This morning starts us off surprisingly sunny and nice. My iPhone had been predicting a kind of gray day with early afternoon storms and then wind. But as of mid-morning it is quite beautiful outside, although there looks to still be a chance of storms and subsequent winds. This may not age well.

If you’ve got 15 minutes and have an interest in Philadelphia parks, spend it on this episode of WHYY’s The Why. Host Shai Ben-Yaacov interviews Plan Philly’s Meir Rinde and WHYY’s Catalina Jaramillo about the past, present, and future of Philly parks. They do a great job articulating some of the angst I’ve felt as an outdoor-lover in Philadelphia: parks remain open, but they also remain crowded. Are they at risk of closure? How could our relationships to open spaces change post-COVID19? They also dive into a fascinating history of the development of parks as a remedy to protect public health and ward off water-borne diseases.

If you’re wondering which parks and trails are open in the Delaware Valley, check out our living list of what’s open and closed. We published it yesterday but will try and keep it up to date throughout the crisis.

Continue reading “DelVal Outdoors News Roundup, April 9, 2020”

DelVal Outdoors News Roundup, April 8, 2020

NJ closes parks statewide, PA opens trout season, waterways protected in Camden, land preserved in Chester Co.

Geese make their away across the Schuylkill River near Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park. [Photo: Kyle Bagenstose]

By Kyle Bagenstose

Welcome to the first ever environmental news roundup from DelVal Outdoors. I hope to write these regularly to update readers on all news and developments regarding the outdoors in the region.

First, a quick shoutout to some of the awesome journalists and outlets that produced news items referenced below. You should follow them to go straight to the source: Frank Kummer covers the environment for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Catalina Jaramillo covers the environment and sustainability for WHYY, Michael Sol Warren is the environmental reporter for NJ.com, and former PADEP secretary David Hess runs the PA Environment Digest newsletter, where he breaks down all PA state government news coming out of Harrisburg.

Today’s headlines and highlights

Good news: It’s a gorgeous spring day, expected to be mostly sunny and breaking 70 degrees in Center City Philly. Bad news: of course the novel coronavirus hovers over everything as the crisis continues to ramp up in NJ, PA, and DE.

We’re working on putting together a comprehensive list of what’s open, closed, and where later today, but the big change from yesterday is that the NJDEP has closed all state parks and forests effective 8:00 p.m. last night. This appears to mean everything, including hiking and boating, as the NJDEP apparently saw unsafe trends of crowded parks continuing.

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