COVID-19 shutdown has led to better days for state parks

CoViD-19 shutdown has led to better days for state parks

MORTON, Miss. (WLBT) - For die-hard outdoorspeople, the closing of the state parks was another hard blow in the coronavirus shutdowns. But officials say there’s been a little bit of a boom following the reopening.

“We just have a picnic at first, and then walk some trails,” said Xianchun Zhu, who was at Roosevelt State Park on Monday with his wife Xu Xu and their children Brandon and Cody.

When Coronavirus hit, nonessential businesses and operations closed down. Though for some like Xu and Zhu, outdoors time is absolutely essential, the state parks were impacted too.

“When the virus first hit, we ended up shutting down for about three months, and then once we opened back up we opened slowly because we didn’t want to open too fast and things just go right back to the way it was,” said Mississippi Wildlife Fisheries and Parks Director of State Parks Andre Hollis.

The return to the parks brought regular hikers, campers and fishermen, but it also brought new faces, Hollis said.

“We’ve definitely got a huge crowd coming out camping since the coronavirus, people are ready to get out of the house,” said Hollis. “So right now the camping is a cheap get away, being able to get out doors, but we’ve definitely seen a peak in the camping, RV camping.”

Xu and Zhu said their family has always liked to take outdoors trips together, but that slowed down considerably because of COVID.

“Well, we haven’t been out here for a long time, this is actually the first time in how many months?” said Zhu.

“Since March,” Xu said.

The couple is from Madison, and they had been to Roosevelt State Park before. Xu said it was somewhere they knew they could go for a day trip and still not risk having to stay in accommodations like a lodge or hotel.

According to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks website, all the state parks are currently back open except Clark Creek Nature Area in Woodville.

“We’ve got great parks across the state of Mississippi,” Hollis said.