last group works hard to protect soil and water, but because they depend on the land for their livelihood, resource conservation must prove economical. Fortunately, many cost-share programs are available to help landowners whose management practices benefit wildlife. In addition, grants and assistance are available for alternative watering systems and other practices that both protect resources and make a farming or ranching operation more efficient and profitable.
It's a Business
"Some of it is profitability. I make no bones about that," said Steve Baima of Clark, in northern Boone County. Baima describes himself as one of Missouri's many flashlight farmers. "We're either retired, or we work another job and go check our cattle at night," he said. "You can't really call us hobby farmers. My hobbies are fishing and hunting. This is business."
Baima owns 200 acres and runs a commercial cow/calf operation of about 65 cows. "My situation was unusual" he said, "because I retired from the Natural Resources Conservation Service about six years ago and knew firsthand the value of many government programs." He said it only makes sense to take advantage of them. "If you are raising cattle by yourself-in a vacuum, so to speak-you're really limiting yourself,"
Baima has been working closely with the Conservation Department for many years. "Before there was a Private Land Services Division, I worked separately with the Fisheries and Forestry divisions," Baima explained "I used to manage three or four other farms, and we fenced out miles of streams and built ponds and did a lot of habitat management."
On his own farm, Baima recently completed an alternative watering system. "We put in a pond that gravity flows to a couple of small paddocks," he said, "and we put in a couple of stream crossings." Baima said he bought all the materials and performed much of the work himself. "The Conservation Department cost-shared on the pond and they paid a flat rate for fencing off the streams."
Cost-sharing can be a major incentive for landowners to protect stream quality.
"Ordinarily, most farmers wouldn't place much value on stream protection, because there is no economic benefit to fencing streams," Baima said. "Unless they receive technical and financial incentives, they won't do it. They need a little enticement."
He said the Department forester also marked trees for a selective harvest and helped him get field bids from various loggers. "In the end, we got what we felt was a fair and