The Spiritual Side of Managing for Wildlife
old fields on his property that were completely overtaken with them. “I figured they weren’t doing me any good like they were, so I decided to bulldoze them out.”
Partners in planning, financing and implementation
When I arrived on the property, I spoke with John about his goals and objectives for the property as we leaned against the side of his outdoor brick oven located off the patio of his cabin. He indicated that, plain and simple, he wanted to make his property “as diverse as he could and as beneficial to wildlife as possible.” Together, we created a management plan for his farm that included managing for forest health and wildlife habitat. The first project was to establish warm-season grasses and native forbs and legumes in the areas that were recently cleared of cedars. Due to timing, all of my Conservation Department cost-share dollars had been allocated. However, John was able to take advantage of cost-share monies made available through a Conservation Department matched grant with Quail Forever to assist him with his native warm-season grass conversion. Partnerships with NGOs (non-government organizations) such as Quail Forever are a crucial part of wildlife habitat and natural resource conservation. This cooperation between MDC and NGOs enable resource managers to assist cooperators like John Groner in putting management “on the ground” while at the same time creating a positive working relationship with external stakeholders. “I just can’t believe that we live in a state that has such unbelievable cost-share assistance!” John said. “It makes it so much easier and enticing for landowners to do the work.”
Plans for the future and proof of common values
John is looking forward to his continued cooperation with the Conservation Department. Given the vast amount of management that John plans to carry out over the next few years, we have explored the opportunity to use other funding sources such as the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) or the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) through the USDA NRCS Office in Osage County. We are planning to begin implementing a timber-stand improvement project on his woodlands this fall. John is planning on conducting a prescribed burn on his woodland units this winter to reduce the leaf litter and to encourage growth of native forbs within the woodland areas. John’s love for the outdoors and his passion for conservation is an inspiration to all that are around him, and his hard work is a testament to the value that the vast majority of Missouri residents place on conserving their state’s forest, fish and wildlife resources.
Attitudes and commitments of landowners like John not only make Missouri a great place to hunt and fish but a great place to live as well.