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Chicago outdoors: Smelt netting or not and an update on Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

Smelt netting or not in Chicago and access at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie are in the updates for March 30 on Chicago outdoors during COVID-19.

Bison calves at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in  2019. USDA Photo by Richard Short
Bison calves in 2019 at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie.
USDA Photo by Richard Short

Smelt netting or not in Chicago and access at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie are the updates for Monday, March 30, around Chicago outdoors during COVID-19.

The Chicago Park District came down with this official statement Monday afternoon on smelt netting, the tradition that usually begins on the evening of April 1 and runs through the end of the April. Obviously, it was not going to open Wednesday night, April 1, this year.

Here is the official statement from the park district:

Last week, Mayor Lightfoot closed the Lakefront Trail, the 606, the Riverwalk and all adjacent parks to the public to prevent people from engaging in large gatherings that violate Governor Pritzker’s Stay at Home Order. The Lakefront will remain closed throughout the Governor’s order to all public activities, including smelt netting, until the Governor and the Chicago Department of Health deem it safe to reopen.

That leaves a sliver of hope for late in the month.

Sausages grilled near Shedd Aquarium on opening night in 2019 of smelt netting on the Chicago lakefront. Credit: Dale Bowman
Sausages grilled near Shedd Aquarium on opening night in 2019 of smelt netting on the Chicago lakefront.
Dale Bowman

Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, the great outdoor space in Will County near Wilmington, remains fairly wide open for public use.

Monday afternoon, I received this update:

Midewin trails remain open from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. There are over 30 miles of non-motorized trails. Trail maps in English and Spanish are available online: www.fs.usda.gov/main/midewin/maps-pubs. Self-guided tours are also available on the website that are accessible by smartphone: https://midewin.oncell.com/en/index.html.

The health and safety of Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie visitors, volunteers, staff, partners and nearby communities remains our top priority. In accordance with direction regarding social distancing provided by our Federal partner agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the restroom facility at the Wauponsee Trailhead is temporarily unavailable for public use effective March 30, 2020.

Please continue to follow the guidance of our local health officials and CDC. For more information, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html.

There are options for getting outside.