Chicago outdoors: Some musings and the first update on access for March 27

Updates on forest preserves access and notes on Indiana DNR sites are in the first update on March 27 for access around Chicago outdoors.

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Anglers in August on Willow Slough Fish and Wildlife Area in Indiana an hour south of Chicago. Credit: Dale Bowman

Anglers in August on Willow Slough Fish and Wildlife Area in Indiana an hour south of Chicago.

Dale Bowman

I really feel the dilemma of updating what is open and functioning within a short drive of Chicago for fishing and other outdoor uses.

Social distancing and not congregating are vital to battling the rise of COVID-19. If we learned one thing over the past week or so, I sure hope we have learned that.

My dilemma is that fishing, birding, spring turkey hunting and foraging for morels, by their nature, are largely isolated things (fishing and birding sometimes have elements of congregating). My solution is to continue report what is legally open and report on what is closed.

So here goes for the first update for today. I say first one because I can almost guarantee there will be another one later today, in part because I expect a fairly major local fishing decision by this afternoon.

There’s some updates from forest preserves, some explanations of open/closures at Indiana DNR sites and Indiana’s license extension, and a note on COMLARA Park and Evergreen Lake, which reopened Monday.

* * *

Let’s open a discussion of forest preserves around the area with this from the Forest Preserve District of Will County, “Shoreline fishing is also allowed as long as social distancing is practiced.”

We all know what social distancing is by now. Just do it. It’s not that hard.

As of this morning, you could fish and access preserves at the Forest Preserves of Cook County (there are some closed areas, such as around nature centers, etc.), the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County and the Forest Preserve District of Kane County.

Shoreline fishing is open at the Forest Preserve District of Will County, but parking lots are closed. I would suggest reading the full explanation here.

The preserves are open in the Lake County Forest Preserves, but trout season at Banana Lake, scheduled to open April 4, has been postponed.

Sites at McHenry County Conservation District are open. But the start of trout season, set for April 4, is among the public event cancellations.

* * *

Click here for a detailed explanation on what is open or closed in regards to the Indiana DNR. The general rule of thumb would be buildings closed while grounds/waters are open. Also of note is extension of the 2019-20 hunting and fishing licenses/stamps until May 22, 2020 with a couple exceptions. Please read here to catch the nuances.

* * *

Evergreen Lake reopened on Monday.

Here are the key paragraphs from the announcement from COMLARA Park in Bloomington:

However, considering that COMLARA Park’s scenic walking, hiking, and biking trails can provide a muchneeded respite to shelter-in-place requirements, please note that effective Monday, March 23, 2020, at 8:00am, we will open COMLARA Park’s trails and boat ramps. We urge all public using the trails for walking and running to stay six (6) feet away from others. Also, the boat ramps will be open, for those who want to get out on the lake. If you are going out to fish or boat, we urge you to use social distancing on your watercraft. Because of our desire to protect the health of our visitors and staff, COMLARA Park’s campground, office and all other onsite facilities will be closed until April 7, 2020.


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