Wildlife Friendly Farmland
Northwest Region. He is evaluating programs available to landowners and figuring out which ones will help them put in cost-efficient, wildlife-friendly practices. Miller's goal is to stay on top of all the cost-sharing programs offered through various government agencies and to find the best programs to fit each landowner's needs.
Miller always is on the lookout for innovative ways to help farmers increase their profits. For example, he is working with local farm groups to connect hunters with landowners who are having trouble with deer eating their crops. With the new deer regulations, many people who haven't shot a deer in other areas can fill their tags in Northeast Missouri during the second season, but many of these people don't have a place to hunt, Miller explains. Getting these two groups together may help farmers experience fewer losses from deer.
Helping private landowners, who own more than 90 percent of the state's land, find cost-efficient ways to use environmentally sound farming methods is crucial to the health of Missouri's economy, as well as to its forests, fish and wildlife. Missouri is second in the United States in number of farms, and 66 percent of the state is in agricultural production. Agriculture adds $4.5 billion each year to the Missouri economy. "When the Conservation Department can help farmers and other landowners use conservation practices, the economy and wildlife can only improve," says Agricultural Services Program Supervisor Bob Miller.
Because landowners' goals usually involve several management practices, the Conservation Department is cross training field biologists so they can help landowners come up with a holistic plan for their land. When expertise in a specific area is needed, such as pond restoration or timber sales, the field biologist will put the landowner in direct contact with the right person-whether a representative of the Conservation Department, another government agency or a private group.
In Taney County, several Conservation Department experts helped Richard and Esther Myers achieve their goals for their 640-acre farm. Resource Forester Mike Huffman helped them with their forestry plan, which produces a sustainable yield of timber and provides habitat for wildlife. Management Forester Francis Dilsaver helped mark the trees, and Assistant District Forester Bill Altman and Resource Forester Greg Cassell helped with timber sales.
Wildlife Management Biologist Larry Rieken offered the Myers advice when they enrolled in a federal cost-share program to convert 30 percent of their fescue pasture to warm-season grasses. Rieken provided information on