MDC reminds conservation area visitors to use physical distancing
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The outdoors offers the refreshing sights and sounds of nature at Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) areas. However, MDC reminds visitors to area trails, parking lots, and roads that the current coronavirus threat makes physical distancing critical when enjoying the outdoors.
This is especially important at popular conservation areas and nature centers in or near cities and towns. The COVID-19 virus has caused stay home directives in many cities and counties. Though a walk outdoors is considered a healthy break from the indoors, if people maintain physical distancing and avoid overcrowding areas. Many people are taking advantage of free time to head outdoors.
For example, MDC’s Burr Oak Woods Conservation Area at Blue Springs has seen a significant weekday upsurge in vehicle and pedestrian traffic. The Burr Oak Woods Nature Center building is closed through April 15 as a coronavirus precaution, and at that point MDC will re-evaluate the situation for Burr Oak and other nature centers and offices that are closed. However, the trails, roads, and parking lots are open for public use at Burr Oak and other conservation areas. MDC staff has noted some people hiking on trails are not maintaining the social distancing recommended by health experts.
MDC provides close-to-home outdoor opportunities for people to enjoy at urban conservation areas and at city or county lakes that partner with the department’s Community Assistance Program. For example, the Youngdahl Urban Conservation Area provides hiking trails through woodlands in the heart of St. Joseph.
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 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on best practices for keeping you and your family safe at cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.
STAY SAFE WHILE FISHING FOR FREE
MDC and the Missouri Conservation Commission have temporarily waived permit requirements for sport fishing and daily trout tags for Missouri residents and nonresidents whose fishing privileges are not otherwise suspended. The waiver of needing a permit or trout tag to fish will run through April 15. Seasons, methods, and limits still apply and will be enforced.
MDC emphasizes that it is still critical for everyone to continue to heed all recommendations for physical distancing, avoiding overcrowding, hand-washing, and other public-health measures while fishing.
SPRING TURKEY SEASON AND FLOOD-CLOSURE NOTICES
Spring turkey season in Missouri remains open and as scheduled. For more on spring turkey hunting in Missouri, visit mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/mdc-forecasts-challenging-spring-turkey-hunting-season-0.
Conservation areas often have special regulations. Also, some accesses, boat ramps, or areas may be closed if spring flooding occurs. Visit http://mdc.mo.gov for statewide conservation information updates and for links to webpages with information and maps for specific conservation areas.