I’m not talking “take your shoes off at the door” etiquette or knowing which fork to use, but there are manners to be minded in the great outdoors, as well. Think of visiting conservation areas, parks, trails, campgrounds and similar areas as you would a friend’s home. There are lots of things you can do to help take care of these places and have a better experience while you’re there.
As an employee of the Conservation Department, I often visit the areas we manage. The experience of walking through a healthy forest, sitting by a clean stream, or scouting a hunting area is like no other. Did you know that MDC manages more than 988,000 acres throughout the state, including four trout parks, 846 lakes, five coldwater fish hatcheries, five warmwater fish hatcheries, a tree nursery, five Conservation Nature Centers, two Education Centers, five staffed shooting ranges, 70 unstaffed shooting ranges, a central administrative office and eight regional service centers? There are so many opportunities, how do you choose?
A great start is to think about the activity you’d like to pursue, and how far you are willing to travel. Just as you introduce yourself when you meet someone new, you can improve your experience by getting to know an area you are interested in visiting. There are many ways to get information, but one of the best is to go online. If you have Internet access, you can visit www.mdc.mo.gov/node/8911. From there, you can search areas by name, county or region. You can find information on each area including contact information, history of the area, land types, trails, activities, features and facilities. There are also interactive maps with details about boat ramps, species of concern, fish cover and other useful tidbits. You can view the area map and brochure, if one is available. If you can’t make your way to a computer, call or visit your regional MDC office and talk to the staff (phone numbers on Page 3). They can give you maps and information about conservation areas.
Maximize Your Outing
You can use these resources to find the conservation area that is best suited to the activities you want to pursue, or to improve your chances of seeing certain flora and fauna. You can also learn an area’s rules and prepare for your needs based on how long you will be gone and what you