While a considerable number of event and activities have been postponed or canceled, some of the timeless pastimes of fishing, boating and hiking are still allowed for people of all ages to enjoy.
There are, however, restrictions to the things you can do and the places you can go. Base Lake on Offutt Air Force Base, for example, remains closed until further notice.
In Bellevue, Papillion and La Vista, playground equipment, ball fields and courts are off limits until further notice. Parks, trails and recreation areas remain open. The fishing pond at Halleck Park in Papillion remains open to the public.
As for parks that are open, overnight camping at state parks, state recreation areas and wildlife management areas are prohibited until at least May 8, with a possible extension. In-park lodging and cabins are also off limits until at least May 8 per the Nebraska Games and Parks Commission.
Despite these limitations, places like Walnut Creek, Prairie Queen and Chalco Hills recreation areas remain open. Papillion Missouri River NRD Public Relation Manager Jennifer Stauss-Story said with the outdoor options being limited, this is a good time to enjoy local outdoor venues.
“Everyone is kind of rediscovering which I think is a good thing,” Stauss-Story said. “With some City of Omaha parks closed, we have been seeing uptick in our attendances at our parks, especially since the weather has been getting nicer.
“People still have to be cautious to follow the social distancing guidelines, but it has been great to still have these parks open for people to use.”
Prairie Queen specifically welcomes people to bring kayaks, canoes and fishing boats as well if they wish.
“Fishing and boating have easily been the two most popular activities here as of late,” said Trent Albers, Papillion’s communication manager. “I took my kayak out last weekend and it’s nice to get away and still enjoy the areas and that’s really why we still have these parks open. We know this is a tough time for people, but people still need ways to get out for the sake of mental and physical health.”
Open park spaces along with trails are also open to the public. Albers added such amenities can only stay open if people respect and follow social distancing.
“As long as people are following the social distancing guidelines, we want to try and keep these areas open, ” Albers said. “Do expect some crowds as the weather continues to get nicer, go and try to find some back trails or secluded fishing areas that people don’t use as often.
“We have miles of horse trails at Walnut Creek, for instance, that a lot of people probably don’t know about, and those grass trails can also be good for walking and bike riding. The parks are kind of the last thing that people can do, and do safely as far as activities go. The outdoors are truly a relaxing experience.”
Haworth Park and American Heroes Park in Bellevue offers similar options to the public with the lake and trails all open. City of Bellevue Public Works Director Jeff Roberts said the parks are a good way to get away from the electronics.
“It’s definitely better than just sitting at home watching T.V.,” Roberts said. “Anytime you can get out and get some recreation, it’s going to be more healthy for you in the long run.
“I think it is a good thing to still let people get out there and be able to still enjoy the outdoors, people just also need to keep their distance while doing so.
“With our trails, we also encourage people to try and walk in the same direction as everyone else. That way we don’t have people crossing paths or walking past anybody to help with social distancing.”