The New Jersey Outdoor Alliance on Friday released a statement slamming Governor Murphy’s press briefing comments that he is “not too concerned” with the concerns of New Jersey residents on his state park and forest closure.
“What a crass and unfeeling statement from an elected leader of our state. The Governor SHOULD be concerned, very concerned, with how the taxpayers of this state feel about his overreach – especially when he is dead wrong in his actions.” said NJOA spokesman Cody McLaughlin, “It’s easy to be callous about outdoor recreation when you live in a literal ivory tower on the water in Monmouth County – not every New Jerseyan is so lucky. People have in good faith followed the Governor’s orders for weeks, but now that thousands of residents dare to question him over an order that serves no purpose other than to depress an already overly-stressed and increasingly unemployed populous, the Governor has decided to play tough guy. As we said before – we have guidelines for social distancing, and we, in good faith, committed to those guidelines. Shame on him.”
The Alliance had immediately denounced the park closures earlier this week, calling it ‘asinine, plain and simple‘.
The park closures have become a focal point this week: Senator Bateman called for the state to reopen them, joining a growing chorus of lawmakers denouncing the closures. Assemblyman Webber started an online petition urging Murphy to re-open the parks. The LD24 legislators released a statement echoing Bateman’s call, as did the LD13 legislators. Assemblyman Parker Space on Tuesday evening wrote on Facebook that ‘I’ve about had enough!!‘.
Earlier this week, Murphy had said he doesn’t plan on revisiting the issue, noting that municipalities have discretion on whether to close their own parks.
The Outdoor Alliance, which represents the state’s 794,000 hunters, anglers and fishermen, called on the Governor to work cooperatively with law-abiding citizens and immediately reopen state and county parks with the same set of commonsense social distancing and occupancy guidelines that have worked for New Jersey thus far so that sportsmen and other outdoor recreation enthusiasts can continue to practice healthful activities that are a boon to mental and physical health in a time when morale is critically important to our state.
NJOA went on to enumerate the various methods of social distancing and what we can expect from a state crammed into close quarters with no outlet for healthful mental and physical activities.
Facts about the New Jersey outdoor community and social distancing:
- Outdoor sports are the best activities that can be pursued by people while practicing social distancing
- It is unlikely, not to mention unfair, to expect New Jersey citizens to stay in their homes without any outdoor activity for 6-12 weeks.
- Outdoor activity is a key component of maintaining morale at a time when our state desperately needs to keep our spirits up
- Outdoor activity is also key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and both physical AND mental health during this crisis
- From a conservation standpoint, hundreds of thousands of trout have been stocked on these waterways, which are now unable to be
- The wanton waste of these trout is concerning, as they will not survive warmer months and will be subject to avian predation when they could be an important local source of food for New Jersey sportsmen and their families.
- New Jersey boasts nearly 800,000 hunters, fishermen and trappers and millions more who enjoy hiking, biking, camping and kayaking our states woods and waterways.
- Hunting, fishing and trapping account for nearly $1.26 billion in spending each year.
- New Jersey sportsmen support nearly 17,000 jobs within New Jersey.
- More than 70% of conservation funding in New Jersey is paid for by New Jersey sportsmen.
- Outdoor sports are a safe, fun activity that can alleviate the “cabin fever” of residents while still maintaining important social distancing guidelines put in place by officials.