Hillsborough outdoor enthusiasts eagerly get back to nature as parks begin to reopen 

Fresh air and a little sunshine can do wonders. 

"All of our folks use the hiking trails and the biking trails, you have the opportunity to see wildlife on the nature preserves,” said Forest Turbiville, Director of Conservation & Environmental Lands Management with Hillsborough County. 

That’s why Saturday was a welcome reprieve for many Hillsborough County residents. 

"I've probably answered over 100, 150 emails from citizens kind of desperate to get the parks back open, and I feel their pain,” said Turbiville. 

Thirty-two nature preserves across the county and the E. G. Simmons Boat Ramp are now once again open to the public, but come Monday even more parks will be opening back up for residents to enjoy. 

"We really wanted to start off with just a couple of parks,” Turbiville. “We prefer to start on a Monday, because it will be a little slower, and we're only opening two parks."

The county is calling this their soft opening. They said they plan to open all their parks soon, but for now they’re taking it day by day. 

"Just to kind of see where we're at from a county standpoint, and also try to reintroduce the public back into the park system,” said Turbiville. 

In the meantime, staff will be around to make sure residents are heeding CDC guidelines. 

"Have some personal responsibility, practice social distancing,” said Turbiville. “If you're exercising, a minimum of six feet, greater than six feet if at all possible, just use common sense."

However, with all the space the nature preserves have to offer, they’re not too concerned. They said it’s time to get back outside. 

"Folks are just eager to get back out, hike and bike the trails."
Click here for more information, on what parks are open in Hillsborough County. 

Pasco County also opened some parks Saturday. Click here for more information. 

See a list of state parks that are open here.