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While the state began gradually reopening economic and social activity Monday, May 4, the Missouri Department of Conservation is working on its transition plan to safely reopen MDC facilities, including nature centers and staffed shooting ranges, to ensure social distancing requirements and infection prevention measures are in place before opening. The facilities will remain temporarily closed to visitors during this transition phase.

"We have an MDC team working on the transition plan for MDC facilities to reopen while keeping visitors and staff safe,” said MDC Director Sara Parker Pauley. “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.”

To help protect people amid increasing COVID-19 concerns, MDC temporarily closed its regional offices, department headquarters in Jefferson City, staffed shooting ranges, nature centers, visitor centers and educational centers around the state to the public in March.

"While MDC offices are closed to general visitation, offices have continued to be staffed. Visitors with official business will need to notify the office to gain access," states a release. Find MDC office contact information at mdc.mo.gov/regional-contacts?county=All.

While indoor facilities have been closed and programs have been canceled through May 31, conservation areas, trails and boat access have and will remain open. While the conservation department had temporarily waived requirements for fishing permits due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that waiver period ended April 16.

"Hunting, fishing and trapping seasons continue as scheduled," state the release.

MDC advises people to take the following actions when using 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 6 feet while visiting areas and especially on trails.

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

• Pack water, soap and/or hand sanitizer.

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