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Bone Daddy

Florida Covid-19 (Corona Virus) Closings

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Bone Daddy

With the pandemic taking over more of our lives, I thought it might be a good idea to have a thread for posting closures that impact fossil hunting. For example, some national parks and beaches are starting to close down. Some of these are access points for fossil-hunters. For example, Payne's Creek state park has a boat ramp used by hunters to access areas outside the park boundaries. Zolfo Springs' Pioneer Park is a public park run by Hardee County - another ramp used by hunters. As of right now, state and county parks are still open, but that could change at any time.

So, if you find out about a closing here in Florida, please post it in this thread. Also, please post a relevant link to a press release, official announcement, or media story for your source.

 

I just heard on the news that Picnic Island park in Hillsborough County is closing starting at sunset tonight, but the boat ramp will remain open. In addition, all public beaches operated by the City of Tampa will also be closed until further notice : https://www.abcactionnews.com/news/region-hillsborough/city-of-tampa-shutting-down-beaches-amid-coronavirus-concerns

 

This is the peak of our fossil-hunting season down here in south-central Florida and it is very likely that these Covid-19 closures are going to impact our shared passion - so let's help keep each other updated.

 

Stay safe out there - fossil-hunting is good "social distancing".  :)

 

 

 

 

 

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caldigger

And unfortunately you guys had a wet hunting season last year that impeded your good times too. :(

 

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ClearLake
41 minutes ago, Bone Daddy said:

Stay safe out there - fossil-hunting is good "social distancing"

Yes, I agree!  My wife and I made a trip up to Ohio for a family wedding this past weekend and while my kids were worried about us, I told them we spent most of the time out fossil hunting on outcrops with no-one else around!  How much safer could we have been (and enjoying it at the same time)?!  :thumbsu:

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sixgill pete

Interesting. Here in NC all state parks have been closed. But you can still use hiking trails and boat ramps.

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Bone Daddy

As long as they leave the trails and ramps open, then I can live with that. The outdoors are such a part of the local culture down here in Florida, that people will go stir crazy if they are locked down and not allowed to take a hike, fish, or go paddling. And you definitely don't want Floridians going stir crazy! You've seen what they do on normal days. LOL.

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Bone Daddy

Just got back from Gardner. I saw several groups of fossil-hunters working the river - we all had the same idea about hitting the river one more time before the inevitable Covid-19 lockdown goes into effect.

 

I talked to some canoeists who rented from Canoe Escape, and they said that Pioneer Park at Zolfo Springs is CLOSED and the public park/ramp at Brownville is also CLOSED.

 

Polk County has closed all parks.

 

Sorry, no link for those yet. Just wanted to share it for those who might be planning trips this week.

 

 

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Sacha

I'm surprised Pioneer park is closed since there are so many campers there. I was going to put in there Monday, but options are available nearby. What exactly are the specifics? Boat ramps may still be open, while campgrounds are closed.

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Bone Daddy
On 3/22/2020 at 7:39 PM, Sacha said:

I'm surprised Pioneer park is closed since there are so many campers there. I was going to put in there Monday, but options are available nearby. What exactly are the specifics? Boat ramps may still be open, while campgrounds are closed.

 

Me too. When I drove past it (on the way to Gardner and the way back), the gate was still open at the main entrance. I suspect they are doing what many parks are doing - honoring existing camping reservations but not admitting any new guests. I assume. I am just going by what some random guy said when we chatted on the river. Call the park or maybe the Hardee County parks dept and double-check.

 

I heard that many state parks are staying open and their ramps as well. If so, then Payne's Creek SP might be one of the last options. Before making the trip, I'd call ahead to be on the safe side - assuming we are allowed to leave our homes in the first place.

 

EDIT : @Sacha just said that Pioneer Park remains open, so the guy I spoke to on the river must have been mistaken.  :)

 

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Bone Daddy

@Sacha - did you make it out to Zolfo yesterday? Is the park still open?

 

 

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Sacha
1 hour ago, Bone Daddy said:

@Sacha - did you make it out to Zolfo yesterday? Is the park still open?

 

 

 

Yes. Still open. Looks unchanged with campers still in place and families running around the boat ramp. Gave most of my finds to a little boy who's family was looking in the sand at the ramp. He's going to be an archeologist when he grows up......maybe it will change his direction a little.

 

 

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Bone Daddy

Thanks for the update Sacha.

If I lived closer, I would venture out. But, driving two hours through three counties to get there just doesn't seem like a good idea to me at the moment. This sucks.

 

There are a few creeks (and the Hillsborough) a lot closer to me, so I might go poke around those if I get cabin fever.  :)

 

Stay safe out there.

 

 

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CplCoprolite

I posted this in another thread that many of you probably already saw, but I thought it would also be a good idea to post here as well. The Stay-at-home order does say that non-essential activities are discouraged, but outdoor activities and exercise are considered essential activities. Here is the fine print on the legislation:

 

image.png.58111b7160b6389fb5eba0f768b729b6.png

 

As long as you are being safe and practicing your social distancing, there should be no issues getting out and digging.

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jpc

so going to church does not have to be done with the social distancing guidelines.... Hmmmmm.....

 

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Tidgy's Dad

images?q=tbn%3AANd9GcT5P_0l9NaNzqi1J2elUs1Bip1tkIDx0cjCZu11dhFeygHE_gZk8KXsYBtNwEX9TuM&usqp=CAU

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FossilDAWG
17 minutes ago, Bone Daddy said:

I answer to a higher authority than the mayor or the governor - my wife.  LOL.

 

I already have some loose plans to do some hiking, and possibly some kayaking, closer to home. I'm just sitting on my hands at the moment and watching to see how the next week or so shakes out.

 

Here's my thinking on this (talk with a liberal dose of salt) : fossil hunting is not "essential" under any real definition of the word. It's a hobby or a passion, but not essential. I can get exercise or fresh air closer to home without exposing myself or others to unnecessary risk. Sure, I could grab my yak, head to the Peace, and do some shoveling while staying away from other people. No harm done right? Well, what if I get bitten by a cottonmouth? What if I slip on a rock and break my leg? What if my truck blows a tire and I go off the shoulder into a ditch? A lot of unforseen things can happen through no fault of our own (like a pandemic), and I don't want a paramedic, sheriff, firefighter, or park ranger to put their lives at risk over me doing something that was optional like hunting fossils. Or, I don't want to tie up an emergency room bed (and possibly expose myself or others to Covid in the process) because I decided to have a hard head and look for loop-holes or work-arounds in the governor's order. I love fossil hunting, and it's killing me that the river is so low and weather is so beautiful - and I am technically stuck in the house. But, I don't put my jones to hunt fossils before the safety of others. I am willing to take those risks on any average day, but these are not average days.

 

There is a big expanse of undeveloped land within walking distance of my home. It's mostly cypress dome swamp with some high spots of hydric hammock and sandhill thrown in. Given the current drought conditions, it's pretty dry out there and ripe for some exploration. I may go take a careful hike if the cabin fever gets to me. It's a poor substitute for fossil-hunting, but it's a lot closer to home and a lot less can go wrong.  :)

 

Let's all hope that reason and intelligence get us through this historically-difficult time, and we can get back out there shoveling and sifting sometime in the near future. But, in my gut, I feel like I won't see that river again until fall or winter at the soonest. I would be thrilled to be wrong and have another shot at it before the summer rains come, but I'm not holding my breath for that.

 

Kudos for your well spoken thoughts.  I hope everyone will heed your advice.  

 

Don

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digit

To quote a television show from the 1980s (younger members look it up online ;)):

 

"Let's be careful out there...." --Sgt Phil Esterhaus

 

"...and be sensible while you're at it." --Me

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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grandpa
On 4/2/2020 at 7:32 PM, Bone Daddy said:

fossil hunting is not "essential" under any real definition of the word.

@Bone Daddy, don't say something like that here, you could cause a riot.  :heartylaugh:

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Randyw

Well said @Bone Daddy :default_clap2:

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Bone Daddy

Just updating this thread with some new information. According to two local forum members ( @Sacha and @PODIGGER ), game wardens are out on the Peace River and their apparent view of fossil-hunting as an "essential" activity is mixed. More details in the linked thread here :

It seems that the enforcement of the "stay at home" order in regards to fossil-hunting varies according to the interpretation of the order by the officer/official in question. There is apparently some discretion involved here - something those who have dealt with agencies like BLM/Parks Service are familiar with. In other words, it may or may not be OK, it just depends on the situation. When in doubt ask, and don't try to argue the law with somebody wearing a badge - it rarely works out in your favor.

 



 

 

 

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Sacha

I just got home from Pioneer park in Zolfo Springs. Nobody else on the river on a very nice day (till noon). Fish and game have been trimming obstructions in this section of the river as well. No obvious restrictions posted and campers are all still in place so I think it's still business as usual. River is getting very low so paddling upstream is getting tougher and coasting downstream now not as smooth a ride as it was.

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Bone Daddy
29 minutes ago, Sacha said:

I just got home from Pioneer park in Zolfo Springs. Nobody else on the river on a very nice day (till noon). Fish and game have been trimming obstructions in this section of the river as well. No obvious restrictions posted and campers are all still in place so I think it's still business as usual. River is getting very low so paddling upstream is getting tougher and coasting downstream now not as smooth a ride as it was.

 

Good to hear that things appear to be normal. I guess it depends on who it is and what mood they are in (if the authorities decide to fuss or not).
 

Yeah, been watching that gauge and it's almost getting too low. Great for hunting, but not so great for paddling. About 4.5 feet is my sweet spot.  :)

 

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