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Meramec Hills Master Naturalists

Group Featured: Meramec Hills Chapter of the Missouri Master Naturalists

Group Mission: The Missouri Master Naturalist™ program mission is to engage Missourians in the stewardship of our state’s natural resources through science-based education and volunteer community service. It is sponsored jointly by the Department of Conservation and the University of Missouri Extension.

Learn More: Visit the links listed below or call (573) 522-4115 ext. 3370

Carol Mahan returned from the Arbor Day Farm’s Nature Explore Classroom in Nebraska City inspired. As manager of the Bray Conservation Area in Rolla and advisor to the Meramec Hills Chapter of the Missouri Master Naturalists, that inspiration was quickly magnified and developed into multiple new projects. The Meramec Hills MNs, led by Bob and Pat Perry and supervised by the area naturalist, Connie Schmiedeskamp, helped Carol develop four Pre-School Zones that encourage exploration with nature and art (Creative Zone), movement (Action Zone), scientific discovery (Discovery Zone) and building with nature materials (Construction Zone). They also created a Wildlife Track Trail with signs that ask “Who was here?”, erected trail signs for tree identification, helped with a brochure for a self-guided tree hike, and built a Trees — Inside and Out exhibit. They also maintain the area’s trails. “Our membership consists of people who are passionate about nature and willing to give many hours to making sure the next generation shares our enthusiasm,” says Chapter President Kathy Walker.

Primitive Accommodations

Conservation areas offer back-to-basics camping.

Sometimes a campground is just a little too ... civilized. Campers looking for more challenge and fewer amenities should check out the camping options at conservation areas throughout Missouri.

Conservation areas may offer either “Designated” or “Open” camping, and their level of development varies.

Designated areas are maintained for camping, and may be either “Designated Primitive” or “Designated Improved.” Designated Primitive sites offer a general camping area, while Designated Improved sites have individual campsites. Designated areas may include picnic tables or grills, and some have restrooms.

Open camping areas offer the most primitive experience. There are no designated camping sites or water sources, and no developed facilities. The primary rule for open camping is that campsites must be at least 100 yards from parking lots and roads. However, campers are encouraged to follow “Leave No Trace” principles, which include: plan ahead and prepare, travel and camp on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly, and leave what you find. Learn more about Leave No Trace online or by calling, toll-free, (800) 332-4100.

There is no charge, and reservations are not required to camp at conservation areas, but they are seldom crowded. The exception is during some hunting seasons. Campers should check with individual conservation areas in regard to regulations and camping access.

You can learn more about conservation areas and camping through our online atlas or by calling your Regional office.

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