The Mark Twain National Forest Service office in Rolla has announced numerous temporary closures to campgrounds and other facilities in the area. In an April 2 news release, the Forest Service said it is “taking the risks associated with the novel coronavirus outbreak seriously,” and that “for the safety of our visitors and employees, changes have been made so that we can continue to deliver benefits to the public while making safety our top priority.”
Forest Service offices will be assisting customers virtually as multiple recreation sites have been temporarily shut down and services have been reduced at many more sites for the health and safety of visitors and staff. All these actions will strongly promote social distancing on Forest Service land. Although these changes may seem out of the ordinary, they are in line with current national guidance and with what other agencies across Missouri are doing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“As we work through this unpredictable and rapidly changing situation, health and safety will remain our number one priority,” the Forest Service release read.” We are committed to continuing to support our communities and fulfill our mission as we all work together to minimize the impacts and spread of COVID-19. As changes occur, Mark Twain National Forest will continue to update the public.”
Offices are being staffed to assist individuals over the phone or virtually, but at this time the Forest Service is not allowing individuals to visit offices in person. This is in accordance with guidance from federal and state authorities. For the most up-to-date information, visit: www.fs.usda.gov/goto/mtnf/status.
Mark Twain National Forest sites that are temporarily closed include:
• Ava/Cassville/Willow Springs Ranger District (417-683-4428): Cobb Ridge Campground, KC Pavilion within Chadwick trails riding area, Shell Knob Recreation Area, Noblett Lake Recreation Area, and North Fork Campground.
• Houston/Rolla/Cedar Creek Ranger District (417-967-4194): Paddy Creek Campground, Lane Spring Campground and Day Use, Pine Ridge Campground, Dry Fork Campground, and Carrington Pits Recreation Area.
• Salem Ranger District (573-729-6656): Loggers Lake Campground and Sutton Bluff Recreation Area.
• Potosi/Fredericktown Ranger District (573-438-5427): Wild Boar Campground and Beach at Council Bluff, Marble Creek Campground and Day Use, Red Bluff Recreation Area, Silver Mines Recreation Area, and overnight camping at Berryman Campground, Hazel Creek Horse Camp, and Brazil Creek Trailhead.
• Eleven Point Ranger District (573-996-2153): Greer Crossing Campground and Watercress Campground, Deer Leap, and Float Camp.
• Poplar Bluff Ranger District (573 785-1475): Pinewoods Lake Campground and Markham Springs Campground.
Restrooms have been locked at most of our recreation sites. Other services, like access to pavilions and places where many people traditionally gather may be temporarily suspended as well. There is no trash service at sites that have been temporarily shut down. Visitors are asked to please pack out what you pack in.
Do not place money in fee tubes at this time as most sites with fee tubes are temporarily shut down. Fees have been suspended and will not be collected at areas that are still open, to prevent the handling of cash at this time.
There are privately managed campgrounds and RV parks near the Forest that operate RV dump stations. However, some of these locations are experiencing delayed openings. Please call the site you normally visit in advance to check on their status.
Even at open sites, the Forest Service urges use of social distancing rules from the Center for Disease Control. Trails and associated trailheads will remain open and all trailheads will be signed with information regarding COVID-19. Boat Launches, will remain open, including the launch at Council Bluff.
Mark Twain National Forest continues to monitor the COVID-19 situation and evaluate potential impacts and adjustments to reservations and our reservation policies through Recreation.gov. Reservation holders will be notified via email and/or cell phone text messages if there are any changes affecting their reservation. In the event of delayed openings of some, part, or all recreation facilities, to ensure safe social distancing, you will receive a full refund for your reservation.
Please contact the appropriate District Office if you have additional questions. Information is available online at www.fs.usda.gov/detail/mtnf/about-forest/offices.
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