JEFFERSON CITY, MO (STL.News) Earlier this week, Missouri Governor Mike Parson announced the first phase of the “Show Me Strong Recovery” plan outlining how Missouri will gradually begin to reopen economic and social activity starting Monday, May 4.
Based on this news, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) 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. According to MDC, many of these facilities see a high volume of visitors of varying ages during peak seasons, especially spring and summer, so ensuring safety guidelines are in place is critical to a safe reopening.
“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,” 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. Find MDC office contact information at mdc.mo.gov/regional-contacts?county=All.
MDC has extended the cancellation of its programs and events through May 31, including 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.
For more information on MDC, to contact MDC offices, to buy permits, and more, visit MDC online at mdc.mo.gov.
MISSOURI MDC TROUT FISHING UPDATES
The James Foundation will reopen Maramec Spring Park to a limited number of visitors (maximum of 250 people at one time) on May 4. There will be no admission to enter the park, daily trout tags are currently waived until May 16, and the campground and bathrooms will be open while the store, playgrounds, pavilions, museum, cleaning station, and café will remain closed. For more information, visit the Maramec Spring Park website at maramecspringpark.com/.
Daily trout tags, along with a fishing permit, unless exempt, will be required beginning May 16 for fishing at all four trout parks: Bennett Spring State Park near Lebanon, Montauk State Park near Licking, Roaring River State Park near Cassville, and Maramec Spring Park near St. James. MDC hatchery staff will resume stocking the parks on May 15 to provide angling opportunities prior to May 16. State Parks will begin to reopen retail operations in parks leading up to May 16. For more information, visit Missouri State Parks website at mostateparks.com/.
Daily trout tags at Bennett Spring State Park, Montauk State Park, and Roaring River State Park are $4 for adults and $3 for those 15 years of age or younger. The daily limit at these three parks remains four trout per day. The pilot program at Maramec Spring Park remains in effect. The daily trout tag at Maramec Spring Park is $5 for adults and $3 for anglers 15 years of age and younger. The daily limit at Maramec Spring Park remains five trout per day.
Due to social distancing concerns, MDC previously cancelled the kids’ fishing day events at the trout parks, including May 2 at Montauk State Park and Bennett Spring State Park, and May 16 at Roaring River State Park and Maramec Spring Park.
REMINDERS ON SOCIAL DISTANCING IN THE OUTDOORS
With the current public-health emergency caused by COVID-19, MDC reminds people to continue to heed recommendations for hand washing, physical distancing, and all other public-health measures during outdoor activities. MDC advises people to make outdoor activities as safe and enjoyable as possible by taking the following actions:
- If you have been sick in the last two weeks, please 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, please do not stop and find another less-crowded location.
- Keep a proper physical distance of at least six feet while visiting areas and especially 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 for keeping you and your family safe from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/.