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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — Officials at Missouri State University have approved a plan for a $2.2 million Ozarks Education Center that will be constructed on the shores of Bull Shoals Lake.

The project features a classroom meeting space that can hold around 40 students. It also includes two small cabin "pods" that can house up to 10 students or researchers who are managing research projects associated with the Ozarks' environment.

Janice Green, a biology professor at MSU, said the new center will be erected on land given to the university and is located far away from towns that could assist with producing an atmosphere beneficial to field research, the Springfield News-Leader reported.

"It will be used mostly by college graduate students and adult groups," Greene said.

The education center will complement the Bull Shoals Field Station across the lake that's been used for years to educate people about the Ozarks environment and conduct research on Ozarks environmental concerns. Parts of Bull Shoals Lake are in Missouri and Arkansas.

Previous research projects have ranged from recognizing bat species that live in the Ozarks, and how well they're holding up, to studying the advantageous effects of fire on the Ozarks landscape.

Researchers found that smoke that comes from natural fires will wake up bats, but it will not kill them. Fire also helps restore healthy forests, as opposed to wiping them out, researchers said.

The new classroom building will not have air conditioning but its design will let a natural wind flow through the building that assists with keeping it cool.

Greene noted the Ozarks Education Center project could be finished by early 2020. It's situated about an hour and a half southeast of Springfield.

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