The boat motors were revving, fishing lines reeling out on the lake and hiking shoes tromping last weekend at Sam Parr State Fish and Wildlife Area.


After several weeks, the park reopened under the amended Governor’s Stay-At-Home Order the reopened many state parks across Illinois. Many area residents enjoyed warm, sunny weather to enjoy the new opportunity to get outdoors.


There is just so much enjoyment derived from a backyard or walks in town.


The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is now allowing hiking, biking, boating, fishing and even mushroom hunting. Visitors to the parks should practice safe social distancing of at least six feet on the trails, boat docks, restrooms and parking areas. State park playgrounds, shelters, campgrounds, beaches and special events are closed for now, including turkey hunting on state ground.


IDNR can limit the amount of people using the park to ensure safe distancing. No gatherings of groups are allowed at this time Sam Parr or other state parks.


Sam Parr is one of 18 state recreational site reopened in the Southern Illinois. Newton Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area was still closed as of Monday. Gov. J.B. Pritzker said there were plans for gradual reopening of other state parks during May.


The closure of state parks in mid-March was criticized as overreaching. It was noted hiking, biking fishing and even mushroom hunting do not require gathering of groups if precautions are followed. On March 23, Pritzker extended the stay-at-home order to the end of May but with changes, including the reopening of some state parks and recreational areas on May 1.


For further site details check out the IDNR website at: https:www2.illinois.gov/dnr/Closures/Pages/Parksopenduringcovid19.aspx