The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will reopen its doors to public access for the first time since March beginning Wednesday, July 15. All buildings will have limited public access as part of the state’s reopening process.
The AGFC’s four nature centers and four education centers will be open to the public 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday. Outdoor facilities at the AGFC’s four warmwater hatcheries also will be open to the public for watchable wildlife opportunities, but no guided tours will be available for the foreseeable future, according to a news release.
Regional AGFC offices will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday. The Little Rock headquarters will remain open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. Though the Little Rock headquarters is open, there will still be limitations on in-person attendance at commission meetings.
Visitors are encouraged to call their destination before visiting to learn of any delays or extra precautions required for their visit.
“We’ve been working diligently to address the safety of our staff and the public as we begin the reopening process,” AGFC Director Pat Fitts said in the release. “This will mean some changes from what we were used to, but with the right precautions in place we feel that we can reopen to enable the person-to-person interactions the public is used to with our agency.”
The reopening comes a month after the AGFC reopened its shooting ranges to public activity.
“That was actually our first step, a trial-run if you will,” Fitts said. “We’ve had an incredible response from the public and have been able to manage public use and activities. It’s also allowed us to see if some possible changes needed to occur before we opened the rest of the doors to the agency.”
Fitts says the public will be required to abide by social-distancing protocols in AGFC buildings, such as wearing masks while indoors. All staff have been busy making sure there are enough safeguards, such as personal protective equipment, employee screening, informational signs and enclosures, to reduce the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.
The staff will also ask visitors for some limited contact information in accordance with contact-tracing recommendations.
“We’re ready to reopen, and many people on our staff are anxious to include that in-person interaction in their work with the public again,” Fitts said. “While we never stopped working in the field and through virtual means, that human element is definitely missed and we want to bring it back to the people of Arkansas. We just ask everyone to be patient as we reopen our doors to make sure we can all stay safe.”
Contact information for the regional offices and nature centers can be found at www.agfc.com/en/explore-outdoors.