The Missouri Department of Conservation has temporarily restricted public access to the campground at Bismarck Conservation Area in St. Francois, Iron and Washington counties, citing ongoing misuse of the area by visitors.

Conservation Agent Clayton Lewis said in a statement: “It was a tough decision, but needed to be made for safety reasons.”

In 2020, the area attracted more than 12 arson-related fires. Lewis also said within the last three years, the campground has also been the site of more than 100 incidents, including theft, domestic disturbances, illegal drugs, intoxication, warrant arrests, noise complaints, dumping/littering, assaults and property damage.

Matt Bowyer, a regional resource management supervisor with the department, said he hopes the campground closure is short-lived.

Additional decisions will be made about reopening the campground portion of Bismarck Conservation Area during peak holiday times, including Memorial Day weekend, the Fourth of July and Labor Day weekend. Questions regarding the campground closure can be directed to the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Piedmont office at 573-223-4525.

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