JCPRD closes sport courts, trails and parks remain open; Kansas calls for reduction in burning; Lenexa Rec Center closed through late April

All outdoor courts, like this one at Antioch Park remain closed through May 3. File photo.

JCPRD closes sport courts, trails and parks remain open

The Johnson County Parks and Recreation District announced on Thursday all sport courts operated by JCPRD will be closed, effective March 26. The closures are in an effort to promote social distancing for outdoor activities in connection with the coronavirus pandemic, according to JCPRD.

The pickleball courts in Prairie Village’s Meadowbrook Park and basketball and tennis courts in Merriam’s Antioch Park are all closed. Signage has been posted to warn patrons, as well. JCPRD on Wednesday morning closed all 21 playgrounds and two outdoor fitness equipment areas. All parks and trails remain open at this time.

KDHE and KDA recommend voluntary reduction in burning

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Kansas Department of Agriculture are encouraging all land owners and managers to voluntarily reduce the number of acres that they intend to burn this spring.

“With the potential for this pandemic overwhelming the state’s medical facilities, any additional respiratory concerns that could be produced from breathing smoke from prescribed fire need to be mitigated,” said Dr. Lee Norman, KDHE secretary.

Common health problems related to smoke can include burning eyes, runny nose, coughing and illnesses such as bronchitis. Individuals with respiratory issues, including COVID-19, pre-existing heart or lung diseases, children and the elderly may experience worse symptoms.

With resources of the county emergency response staff already being taxed with COVID-19 response, it is important to minimize responses that would come with prescribed fire activity, the two departments stated, noting “it is critical that land managers in areas included in the Smoke Model available online at ksfire.org consult the model if they do choose to burn.” The model indicates the level at which a burn would contribute to urban area air quality problems.

“Prescribed burning is a valuable land management tool in the efforts to fight invasive species and maximize land productivity, and this request should not be interpreted as an indictment of the practice of burning,” said Secretary of Agriculture Mike Beam. “However, the circumstances surrounding the coronavirus pandemic have created a situation that calls for reducing burned acres this spring.”

Lenexa Rec Center closure continues through late April

The Lenexa Rec Center remains closed as part of metro-wide precautions taken to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus and reduce the impact on health care facilities. Johnson County and partners on both sides of the state line have issued an order for residents to stay at home for the next 30 days, except for essential needs, and under the county’s state of emergency, public gatherings of more than 10 people are also prohibited.