Anyone who has been inside a grocery store during the past week has been greeted with something heretofore unknown in the Las Vegas Valley. There is aisle after aisle of empty shelves that have been stripped bare of their contents, evidence of the extreme anxiety felt by Las Vegas area residents and those who might be visiting.
It’s an anxiety driven by unfamiliarity with the coronavirus and the possible outcomes of its arrival in the Silver State. That scene is not limited to grocery stores.
On Tuesday, I observed a similar situation while visiting two of the Valley’s largest outdoor retail stores, Sportsman’s Warehouse in Henderson and the Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World. Shelves where ammunition is normally found were nearly empty. Aisles where dehydrated camping meals usually hang in neat order had been stripped bare.
But what I found in the fishing sections of each store, however, was a completely different scene. Fishing rods lined the aisles, a wide array of tackle was on display, and crowds were nonexistent. You might even say it was peaceful in comparison. In many ways, walking through a familiar area, where things appeared normal, provided a respite from the cloud of fear that hung over the other areas.
Knowing that many of the fishing products — or their components — originate in China, I asked Aaron Heath, fishing manager at Sportsman’s, if the store was having any trouble obtaining the fishing products they need. He said there has been no issues in regard to obtaining the products they need nor in keeping the store shelves stocked with fishing gear.
The answer was similar when I asked the same question of Jose Ramirez, a team member in the fishing department at Bass Pro. Then we talked for several minutes about fishing opportunities available to anglers who live in Southern Nevada. It was a nice change of pace to talk about something other than coronavirus.
For outdoor enthusiasts, another change of pace can be found in the outdoors where it is possible to socially distance ourselves and still enjoy the sunshine and other aspects that make being outside an important part of who we are.
As I write this, Nevada’s state parks remain open to visitors, but with limited services. According to the Division of State Parks’ website, “As a precautionary measure, all scheduled programs and events are canceled through the end of March and tour buses are not allowed. In addition, all State Park Museums, Visitor Centers, Gift Shops, Offices and the Nevada State Park Headquarters are closed to the public.”
Where campgrounds are available, overnight camping will still be allowed, but group picnic and camping areas will be closed. State Parks is asking that visitors not gather in groups larger than 10 but still maintain social distancing. It also is recommended that visitors bring their own soap for washing their hands or hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Fee requirements remain in effect.
The Lake Mead National Recreation Area will also remain open with a similar reduction in visitor services and programs. Closed to visitors are the Lake Mead Visitor Center, the lobby at headquarters facility and the entrance stations. However, “visitors may continue to enjoy the lakes, trails and open space areas,” according to recreation area’s website.
If you are interested in the status of any of the commercial operations or services found within the Lake Mead NRA, the National Park Service recommends that you contact them directly.
While park personnel are taking steps to maintain clean and healthy facilities, both NPS and the Division of State Parks recommend that visitors follow the guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, even when visiting outdoor spaces.
If you are sick, please stay home so you don’t expose others to what you have. Practice social distancing and don’t be bashful about it. Even with all the warnings we have been given, some people still feel the need to close the gap.
Frequently wash your hands with soap and water, especially before eating. The rule of thumb is to do so for at least 20 seconds. Avoid touching your nose, eyes and mouth, and keep hand sanitizer close at hand for those times when soap and water isn’t available.
Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His “In the Outdoors” column, published Thursday, is not affiliated with or endorsed by the NDOW. Any opinions he states in his column are his own. Find him on Facebook at @dougwritesoutdoors. He can be reached at email@example.com.