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Marshall County Parks offer ways to avoid cabin fever

Marshall County and Iowa State parks are staying open despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The outdoors is one of the few refuges people will be able to have during this time of unusual circumstances and so we’re going to do our best to keep our public outdoor areas open in Marshall County,” said Mike Stegmann, Marshall County Conservation director.  

The only area that will be closed to the public is the conservation center at Grimes Farm.

Many of the parks have trails for hiking and shelter houses for picnic use as well.

“Don’t gather in large groups, but take advantage of those amenities offered for public use,” Stegmann said.

Fishing is still allowed on the Iowa River, at Sand Lake and the Green Castle Lake. Licenses are still required for hunting and fishing.

“No regulations have been lifted,” Stegmann said.

With all the gyms and fitness centers closed, Stegmann has seen people utilizing the trails.

“People have been taking advantage of it already,” he said. “I’ve seen increased use.”

Treadmills aren’t running in gyms, but trails offer people a perfect place to run.

“They’re keeping their distances,” Stegmann said. “With limited entertainment out of the norm of life, these public areas are going to remain open.”

State Parks are also still open as well, and are implementing more stringent cleaning procedures. They are also waiving cancellation fees for camping reservations through April 30.

“We are monitoring the situation,” the Iowa Department of Natural Resources states on its website. “We promise to remain diligent and intentional in protecting you and making your visit a great experience. As conditions change, so may our policies on park visitation and overnight stays. We will keep you informed of any changes moving forward.”

Marshall County and the Iowa DNR have canceled or postponed all of their events.

Stegmann encourages anyone stressed about being stuck inside to take a walk along one of the Marshall County park trails.

“Getting outside and just taking a walk relieves stress and you don’t have to do it every day,” Stegmann said. “Especially going into spring we’re getting some beautiful weather coming up.”

Those same parks offer a lot of great opportunities for children now that the schools have been closed.

The outdoor playscapes offer kids a place to get their energy out.

“If you go to the area and you see a crowd of people there you might consider taking a walk up to the observation tower or just along the trails somewhere to spread out,” Stegmann said.

As spring comes around so do many birds, and the county parks offer bird watching enthusiasts to start spotting local birds.

“It’s a huge activity for people,” Stegmann said. “People can go to a marsh or to a forest and see the species of bird life that thrives in different habitats.”

A list of all of the Marshall County parks can be found at its website at: http://www.co.marshall.ia.us/departments/conservation

“We’ve got 32 areas, so there’s more than enough space out there to keep people occupied,” Stegmann said. “Get outside. Break that monotony of being indoors. You can be isolated out of doors.”

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Contact Thomas Nelson at tnelson@timesrepublican.com

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