MDC's Southeast Regional Office, Cape Girardeau Nature Center set for Aug. 6 opening

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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – Staff at the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) Southeast Regional Office and Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center will soon be able to greet visitors with words they’ve been waiting to say since March: We’re open.

On Thursday, Aug. 6, MDC’s Southeast Regional Office and its Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center will re-open to the public. Both facilities were closed March 23 due to health concerns surrounding COVID-19. MDC’s Southeast Regional Office is located at 2302 County Park Drive in Cape Girardeau and the Cape Girardeau Nature Center is located next door at 2289 County Park Drive.

“We are glad to be opening our offices to the public and we appreciate the public’s understanding and patience the last few months,” said Tony Jaco, MDC’s Southeast Regional Administrator. “All of us at MDC value our customers and take great pride in providing a quality experience for them here in the Southeast Region.”

As is the case with many other COVID-related re-openings, the transition back to normalcy for both MDC’s Southeast Regional Office and Cape Girardeau Nature Center will be gradual. For the present, the number of visitors will be limited to 3 in the lobby of the Southeast Regional Office’s lobby and 80 in the nature center building. In accordance with Cape Girardeau County Health Department requirements, visitors to both facilities will be required to wear masks. Visitors will also be asked to provide their names and phone numbers when they arrive for contact-tracing purposes. The hours of the facility’s fishing pond and the nature center’s two-mile network of trails – which remained open during the building’s closure – will be sunrise to 10 p.m.

The Cape Nature Center’s plans are to ease back into its program schedule but this, too, will be a gradual transition. Some in-person programs will be offered in August, but staff will also continue to conduct online programs. Though Nature Center Manager Sara Turner hopes to eventually return to a full schedule of in-person programs, she said there is definitely still a place for virtual programming for now.

“The nature center is looking forward to offering programs as we have in the past, but to be on the safe side, we have to make adaptations to our schedules and to the way we offer programs,” Turner said. “We will continue to offer virtual programs that can be enjoyed from home for the next several months. The in-person programs we offer will be outdoors so health measures like social distancing can be accomplished. We have missed our interactions with our visitors and look forward to seeing them again soon.”

People can find information about monthly programs at People can call the MDC’s Southeast Regional Office, 573-290-5730, or the Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center, 573-290-5218, for more information.