revenue because the state does not pay taxes on land it owns. Design promised that the Conservation Department would compensate local governments for the loss in tax base. It wasn't long after Design passed that the Conservation Department began paying PILT (Payments In Lieu of Taxes) money annually to counties. Total payments have exceeded $9 million.
Over the last quarter century, the Conservation Department took advantage of many opportunities to purchase land for wildlife habitat or for public recreation. Design for Conservation foresaw the future and called for an eventual shift in emphasis from acquiring property to improving facilities and access on conservation lands, and managing them for maximum benefit to people and wildlife.
- To increase and develop the amount of land for public hunting opportunity and nature enjoyment by expanding existing areas and their facilities and acquiring additional ones, either by outright purchase or by lease or easement from willing landowners. The objective is to have a minimum of 2,000 acres of such land in counties where public lands are scarce or non-existent and at least 8,000 acres of public wildlife areas near major metropolitan centers: Kansas City, St. Louis and Springfield. Proposed is 121,000 acres for acquisition, development and operation, consisting of 96,000 acres of additional public areas and 25,000 acres of expansion of existing areas.
Keeping the Promises of Design:
- Since passage of the Conservation Sales Tax Amendment in 1976, the Conservation Department has purchased nearly 450,000 acres of land. That amount represents about 60 percent of the 768,400 acres the Conservation Department now owns.
- The Conservation Department maintains land management projects on more than 500,000 acres of land owned or leased by the Department.
- Thanks to acquisitions, additions and improvements made possible by Design, St. Louis area residents now have many public areas to enjoy. Some of the larger conservation areas in the St. Louis area include Weldon Spring (7,356 acres); August A. Busch (6,987 acres), Forest 44 (958 acres), Rockwoods Range (1,388 acres), Rockwoods Reservation (1,843) and Columbia Bottom (4,318 acres).
- Kansas City area residents have the benefit of James A. Reed (2,603 acres), Amarugia Highlands (1,041 acres), Burr Oak Woods (1,071) and Jim Bridger Urban (320) conservation areas. Thousands more acres of conservation land are available within a short drive of Kansas City.
- Springfield residents can visit Bois d'Arc (2,892 acres), Rocky Barrens (191 acres), Pleasant Hope (1,106