Polk Shutting Down Park , Environmental Lands Sites

Polk County officials announced Friday they are closing county parks and environmental lands facilities effective at sunset on Saturday as part of the Coronavirus prevention strategy.

The press release mentions ballfields, shooting ranges, campgrounds and playgrounds as well as the Bone Valley ATV site.

How the closings will be accomplished was not disclosed. Some facilities have gates or road entrances that can be blocked, but others are in neighborhoods.

The idea seems to be to discourage large public gatherings, though some of the remote environmental lands sites are not heavily visited.

It was interesting that boat ramps were not specifically mentioned, perhaps indicating county officials were more willing to inconvenience birdwatchers and hikers than anglers and boaters.

Also notable was the fact that Polk’s communication folks waited until the day of the closing to announce it. The cynical explanation is that allows them to make an announcement at time when official sources are more difficult to reach for reactions.

It will be interesting to see if state officials in charge of state parks, state forests and other conservation lands will take similar steps. They so far seem more sensible about the value of green spaces to the public.