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The Missouri Conservation Commission gave initial approval Friday to a proposed change to Wildlife Code of Missouri regulations that would allow expanded use of bicycles on many department-area service roads.

"Many of our conservation area users have expressed interest in allowing bicycles on service roads for greater access to the areas," Missouri Department of Conservation Deputy Director Mike Hubbard said in a news release. "Opening service roads to bicycles will provide greater opportunities for cyclists — and also hunters, anglers and wildlife watchers — wanting to access more of their conservation areas."

Bicycle use on MDC's approximately 1,000 conservation areas is currently restricted to roads open to public-vehicle traffic and some multi-use trails. This regulation change would expand bicycle access to include most service roads on MDC areas. The proposed change does not apply to electric or other motorized bicycles, which would not be allowed.

Service roads are non-public roads on MDC areas used by staff to conduct resource management activities. They are listed on conservation area maps at areas and on the MDC website. Some service roads are currently used as walking paths by the public. MDC notes conditions of service roads on department areas vary greatly and are not maintained at the level of public multi-use bicycle trails and public roads.

Exceptions would be service roads on waterfowl-hunting areas during hunting seasons and other MDC areas closed to other activities during hunting seasons. Exceptions would also include area-access roads used by staff at fish hatcheries and other MDC areas where bicycle use could be unsafe or cause damage such as erosion.

MDC is inviting public comment on the regulation changes from March 2-31 at mdc.mo.gov/about-regulations/wildlife-code-missouri/ proposed-regulation-changes and by mail to Regulations Committee Chairman, Department of Conservation, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180.

MDC will review all comments received and present a final proposal for a final vote by the Conservation Commission during its May 21 public meeting. If approved, the regulation change will become effective March 1, 2022.

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