I was making my rounds to some of the local fishing spots to see how the fishermen were doing last Saturday and, when I pulled into the Black Pond boat launch area, it looked like opening day of the trout season, there were so many cars parked on the lot and the road leading to it.
“Boy, that’s an awful lot of fishermen,” I thought.
Then I looked more closely. There were hardly any fishermen on the shore or on the water.
The parked vehicles belonged to many hikers who all of a sudden have found solace in nature walks with the state shut down due to the coronavirus.
The lot of I-691 above Guida’s hot dog and ice cream stand was filled to overflowing with parked vehicles. I saw groups of more than five walking closely together. It did not look like “social distancing” to me.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against hikers, but they should realize that they are not above the law, especially in these trying times.
Just about all of the fishermen I have observed since the official opening of fishing season have had no trouble practicing social distancing, so I think that it is rather unfair for hikers to prevent fishermen and boaters from gaining access to the boat launch areas because hikers have taken all of the parking spots, especially in confined areas like Black Pond.
Lake Beseck and Silver Lake seemed to be in control of the boaters and fishermen, and the parking lots there were jam packed with boats and fishermen.
Granted, last Saturday was a beautiful day to be out and about, but this does not mean that we have to forget about social distancing, and as the weather gets warmer, crowding is going to be even more prevalent.
And before you jump on me about being anti-hiker, let me say loudly and clearly I AM NOT! But where were all of you before the coronavirus outbreak? I’ve made the same rounds year after year before the virus outbreak and the parking areas of most of the hiking trails were just about empty.
The CT DEEP is also aware of the parking situation and has sent out a reminder that overcrowding these parking areas, including boat launch areas, could result in their closing. It would be a darn shame if the boat launch areas were closed to boaters and fishermen because of the selfish attitude of those who were using the hiking trails for the first time.
In its release, the DEEP stated, “DEEP manages 117 boat launches across the state on coastal and inland water bodies where users can launch with no fee. DEEP will continue to monitor use of the launches and may adjust public access to these facilities if necessary in order to insure public safety.”
Regarding the use of boat launch areas, the DEEP suggests that parking in state boat launch areas is ONLY for boating, fishing or wildlife observation (where permitted). Other non-permitted activities could increase use, reduce safety and jeopardize the availability of the facilities.
Anyone not engaged in these activities SHOULD NOT be using boat launches and will be asked to leave by DEEP Environmental Conservation police.
The gathering of people at state boat launches must be limited to not more than five people per Gov. Ned Lamont’s executive order. Regarding this, I have noticed that fishermen have been pretty good at social distancing. I hate to say it, but some of the hikers I have seen looked like platoons going into the woods.
Get ticked off at me if you like, but the distancing rules are for everyone. If we do not obey them even more recreational facilities both state and local will be closed to the public, and they will have no one to blame but themselves.
Boaters should depart the ramp as quickly as possible when launching or retrieving their boat. Boat occupants should be limited to cohabitating family members only and groups of no more than five.
While boating on Connecticut waterways, the DEEP says, do not raft or tie up your vessel with other vessels. Do not share you equipment with other boaters. Wear gloves and other personal protective equipment and practice social distancing when using public equipment as gas pumps and pump-out facilities.
Also, regarding your personal safety while boating, remember coastal and inland water temperatures remain cold. Boaters should wear lifejackets at all times.
Also, a reminder that state law requires anyone operating or riding in a manually propelled vessel such as a canoe or kayak is required to wear a life jacket until May 31.QRWA events
Like so many events that have already been canceled, the Quinnipiac River Watershed Association has announced that all of its 2020 spring events have been canceled.
This includes their famous canoe and kayak race, spring river cleanup and school field trips.
The QRWA building is also closed indefinitely, but the group is still processing memberships and checking its email and phone messages, so feel free to contact them at any time.
Regarding everyone who has turned to our outdoor world to help them get through this terrible COVID-19 ordeal, your observing and following the social distancing regulations is vital to keeping these recreational facilities open until this is over. Remember, it is not just you. We are ALL in this together.
See ya, stay safe, and God Bless America and our first responders and watch over our troops wherever they may be serving.