Rural Missouri - May 2020 - 41
That's especially true in these trying times.
"Nature helps you relax, and the outdoors isn't closed," says Lucas
Bond, communications manager for the Missouri Department of Conservation. "Just keep in mind your social distancing and other health measures.
Usually when you're out hiking, you're not doing it with a big group of people anyway."
While it may not be the right time for a group ﬂoat trip or camp out,
there are plenty of activities you can do on your own or with those in your
household. Spring is a good time to dust off those binoculars and search
the skies for migratory birds, or bust your ﬁeld guide out of the glove
box and identify plants. For parents with school-age kids now at home or
for educators and students learning remotely, MDC's free, nature-based
curriculum program "Discover Nature Schools," is available online. The
programs are for pre-kindergarten through high school students.
For some more outdoor fun, clean the cobwebs off that ﬁshing pole in your
garage and see if you can entice a bluegill in the stocked farm pond. In late
March, MDC announced it would waive ﬁshing permits and trout tags through
April 15. The waiver applied to all Missouri residents and nonresidents whose
ﬁshing privileges were not otherwise suspended. Even after valid permits and tags
were once again required, a day of ﬁshing in the Show-Me State is hard to beat.
"The current public-health emergency caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) has
many Missourians and others looking for safe ways to get outside in nature," says
MDC Director Sara Parker Pauley. "Missouri's rivers and streams offer high-quality
ﬁshing as a way for people to connect with nature while still complying with all health
and safety recommendations. Fishing is also a great way to get some much-needed
physical and mental health beneﬁts during this stressful time."
The closure of MDC ofﬁces, staffed shooting ranges and visitor, nature and education centers were to be effective through April 30, when the situation was scheduled
to be reassessed.
Hunting, including the spring turkey season and the youth, mentored and managed hunts associated with it, also continued as usual. A twilight walk through Missouri's turkey woods is the perfect opportunity to hear the natural world
awaken around you. A morning spent in this solitude offers both time for
reﬂection and the chance at a gobbler.
"When you're hunting - especially turkey hunting - it's not in a
group setting," Lucas says. "Hunters can even get their permits online or
through the MO Hunting app."
If all else fails, there's the trusty piece of gear most people have, even
if they don't birdwatch, ﬁsh or hunt: a comfortable pair of shoes. Check
online to make sure other trails and parks are open before making a trip,
as ofﬁce sites, playgrounds and recreation and camping areas are temporarily closed, and many public events have been cancelled. Even though MDC
buildings are temporarily closed to the public, Lucas says the trails at visitor
centers and conservation areas are still open to foot trafﬁc. With more than
1,000 conservation areas across the state, there's bound to be a springtime
slice of natural beauty blooming in your neck of the woods.
"Just be sure not to travel across the state to do this," Lucas adds. "There
should be a conservation area near you, and you can use the MO Outdoors
app to ﬁnd them."
If possible, make it a point to get out and enjoy some fresh air - even if it's
just some time in the backyard. Whatever type of adventure you choose, follow your federal, state and local health and safety guidelines, practice social
distancing, wash your hands and avoid touching your face. Whether it's a
walk down the driveway, around the block or a trek on your favorite trail,
enjoy the outdoors. It might be just what the doctor ordered.
For more information about the Missouri Department of Conservation
areas, learning programs, regulations and closures, visit www.mdc.mo.gov.
To ﬁnd other public lands and accessibility information near you, visit www.
mostateparks.com, www.fs.usda.gov/mtnf, www.fws.gov, www.nps.gov/
state/mo and bit.ly/2JﬁrxX. For more information on COVID-19 safety from
the Missouri Department of Health, visit bit.ly/2UmMF7b.
MAY 2020 | RURALMISSOURI.COOP
Rural Missouri - May 2020
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