Today Senator Steve Oroho and Assemblymen Parker Space and Hal Wirths (all R-Sussex, Warren, Morris) call upon Governor Murphy to reopen the outdoor portions of New Jersey’s state parks and forests.
“Closing the state parks and forests in all parts of the state suspends a vital outlet for many in New Jersey to recreate and maintain safe social distancing and a healthy lifestyle – both mentally and physically,” said Oroho. “The residents in our district have been responsible and compliant with the Governor’s order. Why punish the whole state for a few ‘knuckleheads’?”
New Jersey taxpayers started funding the purchase of lands under the management of what eventually became the New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry in 1905.
“We cannot accept closing State parks and forests that have been paid for by our taxpayers,” said Space. “Trout Season in New Jersey opens Saturday, and we are shutting down prime fishing locations that already have been stocked. This makes no sense and is a waste of resources.
“If multi-layers of law enforcement are required to enforce this order, the Governor should have addressed this weeks ago to give them the direction and better tools to implement social distancing in parks and forests and be prepared for ‘disobedience,’” Space added. “We could have better monitoring in place and the legal authority to restrict out-of-state visitors. Our beautiful open space should remain open for those who foot the citizens who foot the bill.”
Health experts have emphasized the importance of fresh air and exercise during this crisis to keep bodies and minds in condition to fight off illnesses.
“It is bad enough what we have had to endure as a state in the last month, but it is outrageous to close the outdoors,” said Wirths. “This is making the problem worse by pushing people into close quarters outdoors on streets and sidewalks verses the vast open spaces which our parks provide. People need to practice social distancing and this is counter-intuitive.”
Oroho, Space, and Wirths – with Space as Wantage Township Mayor and Wirths as Sussex County Freeholder Director – vehemently opposed Corzine’s plan to close High Point. In addition, they have been leaders in the fight to keep parks and forests open during state budget shutdowns.
“Governors messing with state parks don’t have a great track record. Jim Florio wanted to close Parvin State Park in Salem County and Jon Corzine wanted to close nine state parks including High Point,” Wirths added.