When people are quarantined with limited options, getting outside and to local parks is a natural solution.
“The trails have never been busier,” Lake Jackson Parks and Recreation Director Jeremy Bubnick said.
In the past, it was typical to pass one or two people on the trails in the evenings, Bubnick said. Now, there are appropriately socially-distanced crowds.
This is good, since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines do not recommend accessing playground equipment right now, he said. It’s not about contracting the virus by contact with surfaces, but the crowds and interaction that playgrounds can attract, Bubnick said.
“I would encourage people to explore and discover some of the trails we do have,” he said.
There are some great nature trails at Crews Park, 1032 Oleander St., Lake Jackson, Bubnick said. He considers it a hidden gem.
“It’s a really nice park,” Bubnick said.
Lake Jackson has had tape around all of its playground equipment.
The county is gradually reopening its playgrounds, Brazoria County Parks Director Bryan Frazier said, adding that crews are regularly cleaning them. They are also installing new playground equipment at Buffalo Camp, he said.
For the parks that are closed — including Resoft and Quintana Beach County Park — staff field dozens of phone calls daily about when they will reopen, Frazier said.
“People are really trying to find activities and things they can do to get out of the house,” he said.
People love the outdoors anyway, and this is a time of year when people always start enjoying the outdoors and parks that Brazoria County has to offer, Frazier said. Since many people have been cooped up inside, that just adds another layer to the desire to get out and explore, he said.
There are many outdoor activities that people can maintain a social distance while participating in, Frazier said.
Camping with RVs at San Luis Pass and Quintana is available, he said.
Fishing is another great activity whether it’s from the surf, a boat or a pier, Fraizer said.
“Fishing is a fantastic way to maintain social distancing,” he said.
Residents can also use Brazoria County beaches to look for shells and things like shark teeth, Frazier said.
There is plenty of coastline to explore, especially if people would spread out more toward the east, he said.
“There’s plenty of beach really, for everybody,” Frazier said.
That would be down Follett’s Island, which includes 13 miles of public beach access, all the way toward Kelly Hamby Nature Trail.
When preparing for a day in the parks, it is important to be prepared, bring water and especially for the beach, do some research about where you’re going, Frazier said. Checking the traffic reports and riptide risk online takes very little time and is very important, he said.
It is parks departments’ jobs to give everyone a safe, enjoyable experience outdoors, Frazier said, so they need visitors to be safe as well.
“I hope people are on their best behavior,” he said. “Being cooped up is no excuse to go out and do something crazy.”
This summer is a strange territory for Lake Jackson parks and recreation, Bubnick said.
“Everything in parks and recreation is around groups and bringing people together,” he said.
But many facilities in the city remain open, including the dog park and tennis courts, Bubnick said. They hope to open the skate park this summer, he said.
Kayaking along Oyster Creek is also an option, Bubnick said.
Brazoria County is doing monthly interpretive kayak tours, and those are filling up very quickly, Frazier said. They rotate through different waterways including Chocolate Bayou and the San Bernard River, he said. For those events, people can rent kayaks from the county, he said.
“Those are a great way that people can keep a social distance that’s safe and get out on the water,” Frazier said.
Both parks directors encourage people to get outside safely.
“Enjoy some sunshine, take a walk, enjoy the fresh air,” Frazier said. “Spend time with family and get out of the house.”
Getting outdoors is important for physical wellbeing and mental health, Bubnick said.