RUSKIN, Fla. - Hillsborough County opened all of its conservation parks this past week allowing residents more space to stretch out and enjoy time outdoors.
One of those parks is the 258-acre E.G. Simmons Conservation Park in Ruskin.
"I am thrilled that the park is open again," exclaimed Park Manager Dillon McClure. "People can finally come back to the park."
The sprawling location offers campsites, fishing and access to local waterways including Tampa Bay.
"This is hands-down the best place to fish off the shore in Hillsborough County," shared McClure. "Just throw a line in."
But if fishing is not your thing, you can enjoy the other aquatic life in the water. Manatees, dolphins and stingrays are frequent visitors to the natural shoreline areas around the park.
"It's important to get the parks open to get people out of the house," said McClure.
The campsites are open at just 50%, so expect to be more on your own in those areas. The boat ramps are open and the shoreline is open for fishermen to use.
And while being closed was not ideal during the pandemic shutdown, McClure stated, "(The) extended period the park was closed, we were able to get a lot of projects done that we wouldn't be able to because of the patrons."
They cleared exotic invasive plants out of the canals and waterways; they trimmed back the tree canopies to allow for sunshine to get into those heavily forested areas; and they added seven new campsites to the campgrounds.
McClure's passion for this park is evident in his advocating for its use, "I see the park as a breathing entity."
The beauty of the park is visible on a clear day as you can see the skylines of downtown St. Petersburg, downtown Tampa and even MacDill Air Force Base across Tampa Bay.
McClure exclaimed, "There's not a view in Hillsborough County like this!"
Click here to see that view and experience the park for yourself.