Conservation by the Numbers
management partnerships or lease agreements on another 196,921 acres. These arrangements include community fishing lakes and lands bordering large reservoirs, such as Truman Lake.
Nearly 60 percent, 446,000 acres, of the land owned by the Conservation Department was purchased following passage of the Conservation Sales Tax in 1976.
Since 1980, the Conservation Department has been compensating local governments for their loss of tax base for state-owned lands by making Payments in Lieu of Taxes. In 1980, nearly $76,000 in PILT money was paid to 72 counties. During 1999, payments to 112 counties totaled $639,000.
The Conservation Department's land holdings have also increased thanks to generous donations by Missourians who wished to protect and make available for public use the natural values of their land. Since the Conservation Department was established, it has received 366 donations that included land. The value of these land donations is more than $25 million.
Nearly 53 percent of Conservation Department lands are forested. Fishing lakes/ponds, the second largest category, make up about 19.5 percent of the total acreage. Wetlands, a vital but rapidly disappearing component of Missouri's landscape, represent about 4.4 percent of the area under the stewardship of the Conservation Department.
The best remaining examples of natural communities and geologic features, such as prairies, springs and woodlands, are protected in the Missouri Natural Areas System, which has grown to over 180 areas, comprising more than 50,000 acres.
To improve the natural values of the 93 percent of the state that is privately owned, the Conservation Department recently established the Private Land Services Division. The new division formed regional teams of specialists that are available to help private landowners manage their forests, create or preserve wildlife habitat, build or revive ponds and protect stream banks.
Representatives of the new division provide landowners with information about cost-share programs, grants, technical assistance and other help available to improve natural values on private land.
The natural wealth of our state includes forests, prairies, lakes and streams, as well as the creatures they support. The Conservation Department manages the populations of many popular game and fish species. It also protects and provides habitat for non-game species and actively works for the benefit of endangered species.
The Conservation Department operates warm-water hatcheries whose combined output exceeds 3 to 5 million fingerling to adult-size fish, including bass, catfish, paddlefish, walleye and many other species. The fish are stocked into the 846 public lakes managed by the Conservation Department.