MDC's Walter Woods Conservation Area in Newton County closed to public due to structural concerns

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JOPLIN, Mo. – Due to structural concerns with vehicular and pedestrian bridges that were noted on a recent inspection of the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) Walter Woods Conservation Area in Newton County, MDC has closed the area to all public use until further notice.

The closure went into effect Monday, June 10. A date for reopening the area has not been set because of EPA remediation work that is scheduled to begin at the Walter Woods Area later this year.

The inspection by MDC engineers that led to the closure of Walter Woods was a precursory step to the remediation work at the area that is planned for later in the year. The Walter Woods Area is part of the EPA Region 7 Superfund mining remediation project, which is currently going on in parts of Newton County.

A reopening date for Walter Woods cannot be established at this time because of the closeness of this closure to the EPA work that would have closed the area later in the year, regardless of what was found by the MDC inspection. MDC staff deemed there was no reason to repair bridges that were going to be removed as part of the EPA remediation work.

MDC staff stress the area will reopen and when it does, the public will be able to enjoy a safer and cleaner area.

“We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding throughout this project,” said MDC Southwest Regional Administrator Greg Collier. “We know the people in this part of the state have loved this area for a long time. That’s the part of this closure that, even for MDC staff, is challenging to accept. However, the end product of this closure will be a Walter Woods Area that the public will love even more.”

MDC reminds those who enjoyed the trails at the Walter Woods Area that MDC’s Shoal Creek Conservation Education Center, located at 201 Riviera Drive in Joplin, has a network of trails that connects to trails managed by the city of Joplin. The Shoal Creek Center also has a full schedule of programs for the summer. People can learn more about the Shoal Creek Center at: .