LITTLE ROCK -- The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission opened its doors to public access for the first time since March on July 15. All buildings will have limited public access as part of the state's reopening process.
"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. "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 the flow of traffic fairly well. 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. The staff has been busy making sure there are enough safeguards, such as personal protective equipment, informational signs and enclosures, to reduce the spread of the virus that causes covid-19.
"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."
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. The AGFC's four nature centers and four education centers will be open to the public 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday. The outdoor facilities at the AGFC's four warm-water hatcheries also will be open to the public for watchable wildlife opportunities, but no guided tours will be available for the foreseeable future.
Visitors are encouraged to call their destination before visiting to learn of any delays or extra precautions required for their visit. Contact information for the regional offices and nature centers can be found at www.agfc.com/en/explore-outdoors.