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What is there to do? Not much

Jamie Drake

Outdoors columnist Jamie Drake

A lot has happened in just one week.

President Donald Trump declared a national emergency. All schools in Maryland are closed until March 27. Charles County confirmed its first case of coronavirus.

I sincerely hope that everyone is taking the necessary precautions to stay safe during these uncertain times. Wash your hands often, avoid going to the store unless absolutely necessary, keep your kids away from the elderly and those with compromised immune systems and stay home if you feel sick.

I’ve got several cancellations and postponements to announce. In fact, it’s probably safe to assume that most, if not all, events taking place this month have been postponed.

While many cancellations and postponements have been announced in emails, not all websites have been updated to reflect the changes, so it’s always safe to email or call to make sure before attending an event.

In the meantime, it’s nice to know that the outdoors are not off limits. In fact, spending time outside might be just what the doctor ordered.

There’s no need to forgo a quick hike through the woods or an hour tossing lures at your favorite fishing spot during this crisis. With all the kids home from school and more adults working from home, I predict we will see some cases of cabin fever diagnosed as well. With well-laid plans you can enjoy the outdoors and also be observant of virus precautions.

I talked to Anthony Hancock, manager at Gilbert Run Park in Dentsville, on Friday. Hancock expecting heavier-than-normal park traffic these upcoming weekends while folks are out of school or home from work and craving some fresh air and sunshine.

While all organized sports have been canceled through March 29 at Charles County parks, the parks themselves are still currently open with their respective hours of operation. Gilbert Run Park is open on weekends only this month from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Book sale postponed

I planned to write a bit about the Friends of the Library book sale slated to take place March 27 to 29 at the St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds. Well, it’s been postponed, so don’t make plans to attend next weekend.

I’d been mulling over what I’d write about the event because there’s a secret I’m not sure I’m ready to share with the public yet.

The book sale is a big deal to my family. Usually I let the kids check out of school early to get in line for the members’ only day on Friday. We bring along plenty of reusable bags and pull one of those collapsible carts behind us — a wagon is good for little ones to ride in when they’re tired and for carting out all our goodies after we’ve paid for everything.

Professional book buyers definitely attend this event. You’ll recognize them by the fact that they use their phones to scan barcodes on books to find out if it’s worth buying and reselling. But I like to consider myself a bit of an expert, too.

My favorite tables to peruse are the (surprise!) outdoorsy books. I always leave with a pile of new-to-me astronomy, gardening and geology books to keep me busy for a while. I’ve decided to share my secret today, and since the book sale has been postponed, it’ll be up to you to remember it whenever the sale takes place in the future.

Here’s the secret: The book sale is a great place to purchase field guides.

You can expect to spend between $15 and $30 for a brand-new copy of an Audubon or Sibley bird identification guide. But at the book sale, a used (or sometimes even new) copy will run you just a buck. Usually I can find several copies of different field guides.

I like to stock up at the sale. That way, when a visitor expresses an interest in the birds in our yard, I can just reach on the shelf and hand them a book to take home. That small gift could ignite a passion that lasts a lifetime, and it all started with just a dollar investment in a book.

A new date for the book sale has not been announced yet, but I’ll keep you updated.

SMRFO makes changes

The Southern Maryland Recreational Fishing Organization announced two cancellations.

Capt. Phil Langley’s presentation scheduled for March 19 at the Solomons Volunteer Rescue Squad and Fire Department regarding the new regulations for the 2020 fishing season for Maryland and the Potomac River has been canceled.

Phil Zalesak, president of SMRFO, issued the following statement: “After reviewing all the risks and requirements necessary to conduct a safe meeting, I have concluded the health risk to our membership is significantly higher than the benefit of hearing the presentation at that time.”

The situation will be closely monitored and a decision about the next regularly scheduled meeting on April 16 will be made at a later time

The Southern Maryland Fishing Fair and Boat Safety Expo, which was scheduled for March 21 and 22 at the St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds, has been postponed until the weekend of August 29 and 30.

Boat shows on hold

At this time, the Bay Bridge Boat Show (April 17 to 19) and the Annapolis Spring Sailboat Show (April 24 to 26) are on a temporary hold but are scheduled to go on as planned.

Organizers are preparing show locations with hand washing stations and taking other precautions to ensure the events are safe for the public.

A final decision will be announced no later than April 2. For updates, go to

DNR online portal is open

If you’re in need of a hunting or fishing license, permit, stamp, or any kind of recreational license or registration, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources online COMPASS portal is open and available 24/7 at

If you have any authorization that will expire or is up for renewal during the state of emergency, you are immediately granted a grace period of 30 days after the date of termination due to current circumstances.

In fact, you are urged not to visit a service center during the grace period to reduce the possibility of spreading the virus.