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Land Gifts

Donations of land to the Missouri Department of Conservation have helped conserve Missouri’s natural resources and provide to countless citizens of all ages the opportunity to fish, hunt, hike, and explore the beauty of Missouri’s outdoors. If you would like to explore making a gift of your land to the Department to conserve its natural resources and allow fellow citizens to enjoy nature, whether during your lifetime or as part of your estate plan, please contact Aaron Jeffries, Assistant to Director-Governmental Relations, at 573-751-4115 or via e-mail (Aaron.Jeffries@mdc.mo.gov).

Lewis Land Donation

The Lewis Family, Dean, Anna Mae and David D. Lewis Memorial Conservation Area, located northeast of Branson and consisting of 362 acres, was made possible through the generosity of David D. Lewis, who passed away in December 2009. David was born and raised in Rockaway Beach and worked for Sears in Springfield for nearly 40 years. He was known for his humility and frugality. The area, which was opened to the public in December 2013, consists of a mix of upland and bottomland forest, woodland, savanna, and glades, and contains several small wildlife watering holes. Bull Creek runs through the southern portion of the area and empties into Lake Taneycomo approximately 2 ½ miles downstream.   A parking lot has been constructed on the east side of the area along Highway 176. Greg Cassell, Resource Forester for the Department said, “Mr. Lewis contacted the Department back in 2008 and expressed his interest in donating the land. He was passionate about preserving his family’s homestead and sharing it with generations to come.  Folks coming to the area have the opportunity to enjoy a range of outdoor activities including hiking an old woods road, bird watching, fishing along Bull Creek, and hunting small game, turkey, and deer. This is just a wonderful donation and the fact that the area is so close to Branson makes it even that more special.” 

Directions to The Lewis Family, Dean, Anna Mae and David D. Lewis Memorial Conservation Area: From Hwy  465/Hwy 65/Hwy F intersection on the north side of Branson, travel east on Hwy F 3.4 miles to Hwy 160. Turn right and go southeast ¼ mile to Hwy 176. Turn right and go south 2/3 mile to parking lot on the right (west) side of Hwy 176.

 

Horton Land Donation

Antje and Bill Horton loved walking the trails at Pickle Springs Natural Area, located just a few miles south of the Horton farm in Ste. Genevieve County. They had met in Germany in the early 1970’s while Bill was serving in the United States Navy, and thereafter found themselves living either overseas or on the east coast. Periodically, they returned to Ste. Genevieve County for family visits. Bill died tragically in a car accident in 1997. “Before he died, Bill and I had talked about donating the farm, as we did not have any children. Bill loved the farm, a part of which had been in the Horton family for more than a century, and wanted it to be conserved for wildlife and the public’s enjoyment,” Antje stated from her home in Arlington, Virginia. In 2007, Antje offered the 640-acre farm as a donation to the Department of Conservation, specifying that the new area be named the Horton Farm Conservation Area. “I wanted to honor my husband’s wish to donate the property so that people could have a place to go and enjoy being outdoors. I remember the times when we would go to Pickle Springs [Natural Area], and walk around. I always thought it was such a lovely place. It is my hope that children and adults alike will enjoy and have similar feelings about the Horton Farm Conservation Area.”

Located approximately ½ mile north of Hawn State Park and 1 ½ miles southeast of Hickory Canyons Natural Area, the Horton Farm Conservation Area is rolling hills with forested ravines and small streams. 

Directions to Horton Farm Conservation Area: From Interstate 55: Take Highway 32 west 12 miles to Highway 144, then Highway 144 southeast 0.2 mile to Miller Switch Road north, parking lot will be immediately on the right. From Farmington: Take Highway 32 east 10 miles, take Highway 144 southeast, and Miller Switch Road north to parking lot.

Haynes Land Donation

A donation of 44 acres to the Missouri Department of Conservation made by Dan Haynes and his wife, Pam, of Roscoe, Illinois, is an addition to Wilhelmina Conservation Area in Dunklin County. Dan’s parents, Curtis and Louise Haynes, bought the tract and other land in Dunklin County in the mid-50’s and moved their young family to Missouri from Arkansas. “I just think it’s a good fit for the 40 acres to be in the hands of the Conservation Department and a way to honor my folks. It was hard for us to access some of the property because of the Wilhelmina Cutoff and this way the land can be under the stewardship of the Department. When I was a kid the surrounding land that was later acquired by the Conservation Department was known as the ‘Armstrong Cork’ property. I have good memories of hunting and walking the property. This will be a chance for the 44 acres to be used and enjoyed by others,” Dan said.

 “This generous donation will allow the tract to be returned to the native bottomland hardwoods it once was and will provide valuable forest wildlife habitat that is sorely lacking in much of Dunklin County. Folks coming to the property might see deer, beaver, waterfowl, and a lot of songbirds ”, commented area manager Mark Pelton . Signage has been erected on the tract to acknowledge that the property was donated by the family of Curtis and Louise Haynes in their memory.

Directions to Wilhelmina Conservation Area: The entrance to the main tract is in Dunklin County north of Campbell on Highway 53, then 4.5 miles west on Route DD and west again on County Road 203.

 

Rucker Land Donation

Patricia Meagher Rucker (Trish) has wonderful memories of visiting the family farm near Silvermines in Madison County while growing up. Her grandparents lived on the farm from 1890 to 1944, raising pigs, cattle, chickens—and children. Her grandfather was also the Silvermines postmaster, a position he held for over 44 years. The farm was later owned by her aunt and uncle, James and Erma Royer, and inherited by her father, Robert Meagher, who practiced law in Fredericktown. 

Following her father’s death in 2007, Trish contacted the Department about donating the 84-acre home place, situated immediately south of Millstream Gardens Conservation Area approximately 8 miles west of Fredericktown. “I simply could not sell the land,” Trish said. “It had been in the family since my great-great grandparents bought it in 1860 and was a place filled with so many memories. I knew that the St. Francis River straddled Millstream Gardens and that my family’s land would provide public access to the part of the conservation area lying south of the river. I also liked the idea that my family and I would still be able to hike around on it.” 

Trish’s donation to the Department was given in honor of her children, Roberta and James, and the tract is named to honor her grandparents. The Robert Patrick and Lula Ellis Meagher Conservation Tract, which consists of a mix of pasture and woodlands, is managed as part of the Millstream Gardens Conservation Area.

Directions to Millstream Gardens Conservation Area: From Fredericktown: take Highway 72 west 8 miles to the area. South of the
river: take Route D to the area. 

McGee Land Donation

The McGee Family Conservation Area, located near Plattsburg and consisting of almost 1000 acres, was made possible through the generosity of Thomas Francis (Tom) McGee, Jr., a businessman and lifelong resident of Kansas City who passed away in January 2010. The term “renaissance man” aptly described Tom. He was a man of deep faith who had a broad range of interests, including reading, photography, history, sports, and an enthusiastic love of nature and the outdoors. He spent many afternoons on this land hunting quail and mushrooms, and admiring the beauty of spring wildflowers. Tom took satisfaction in knowing that part of his legacy would be that he provided his fellow Missourians with the opportunity to have wonderful outdoor experiences – the kind of experiences that he enjoyed so much. The area's rolling hills were primarily in pasture for most of the last century. Long-term plans call for coverting upland fescue pastures to more wildlife friendly habitat such as row crops and native warm season grasses. White-tailed deer and wild turkeys are seen regularly on the area, especially in the wooded areas near the Little Platte River. The area has several farm ponds, with some spawning runs up the river if water flow is adequate.

Directions to McGee Family Conservation Area: From Plattsburg, take Highway 116 east, then Route C south 1.6 miles just south of the Little Platte River bridge.

Key Messages: 

Missourians care about conserving forests, fish and wildlife.

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