- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 17, 2014

BRANSON, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri Conservation Commission has approved a nearly $1.2 million contract to design a new nature center to replace the small visitor’s center at Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery.

The design contract was approved last week. A Missouri Department of Conservation official said the nature center should be finished and open to the public by 2017.

“The existing visitor center is very small and 30-plus years old,” said Jacob Careaga, design and development chief with the state agency. “It will be about similar in size to the Conservation Nature Center in Springfield but with more of an aquatic theme because of its location next to Lake Taneycomo and Table Rock Lake.”

The new building will include live fish and animal exhibits and auditorium space, the Springfield News-Leader (https://sgfnow.co/1szJOl0 ) reported.

The new building, estimated to cost between $6 and $7 million, will be paid for with funds from a statewide conservation 1/8-cent sales tax and revenue from fishing and hunting licenses.

Missouri officials say the 2,500-square-foot visitor center, built in 1979, outgrew its ability to handle the large number of tourists and residents who stop by to learn about the fish hatchery, feed trout and walk on nearby trails.

Up to 215,000 people visit each year, Visitor’s center staff member John Miller said, but noted that a study conducted from July 2012 to June 2013 showed 308,000 people visited the center during that time.

The hatchery grows about 1.2 million rainbow and brown trout a year, and 700,000 of those are placed in Lake Taneycomo annually.

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Information from: Springfield News-Leader, https://www.news-leader.com


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