Missouri Department of Conservation keeps facilities closed, plan reopening

The two swimming beaches at Smithville Lake.

The Missouri Department of Conservation will keep its facilities temporarily closed while the department creates a reopening plan. All programs and events are canceled through May.

According to a news release, MDC is working on a transition plan to ensure social-distancing requirements and infection-prevention measures are in place prior to reopening facilities that include nature centers and staffed shooting ranges.

The department said these safety guidelines are especially critical because its facilities handle a high volume of visitors of all ages during the spring and summer seasons.

“With the state opening back up May 4, we have an MDC team working on the transition plan for MDC facilities to reopen while keeping visitors and staff safe,” MDC Director Sara Parker Pauley said. “We do not have a date set for re-opening at this time, but we are working hard to make this happen with safety at the forefront.”

MDC temporarily closed its regional offices, department headquarters in Jefferson City, visitor centers and educational centers to the public starting in mid-March.

MDC also extended the cancellation of its programs and events through May 31. Those activities include hunter education classes, nature center programs and events, shooting range programs and events and landowner workshops.

Conservation areas, nature center trails and boat accesses remain open to the public. Hunting, fishing and trapping seasons continue as scheduled.

The MDC advises people to take the following actions when using their outdoor facilities:

• If you have been sick in the last two weeks, stay home for your health and the safety of others.

• Travel in a small group of 10 people or fewer.

• If a conservation area looks crowded or an area parking lot is full, find a less-crowded location.

• Keep a physical distance of at least six feet while visiting areas and on trails.

• Avoid popular spots where people congregate, such as scenic overlooks, fishing docks, etc.

• Pack water, soap and/or hand sanitizer.

Get more information on best practices from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

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