Entrusted to the Future
"This land has been good to me, and good for me," said Ronald VanDyke about his 317 acres in Mercer County. "Through the years I put a lot sweat into these acres, but it was a labor of love. Now I want others to enjoy it, walk over it, appreciate the wildlife, breathe deep and take in its beauty."
Ronald VanDyke donated his land to the Missouri Department of Conservation as a memorial to his parents and brother who also were interested in resource management. The property now is called "The Russell B., Hazel S. and Arnold VanDyke Conservation Area." It is open to the public for hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities.
Cecilia Fitch also had in mind a memorial when she donated her 167 acres in Platte County.
"My great-grandfather, Dr. Fredrick Marshall, owned this land," Fitch said. "We repaired the cabin and enjoyed many weekends with friends, viewing wildlife and enjoying the calmness of the land and the silence of being away from the city. It's a wonderful place. Others should have the same enjoyment."
The tract is named in honor of Fitch's great-grandfather, the first physician in Platte City. He arrived in 1837, when the town was still known as Martinsville. "I'm sure my great-grandfather would be pleased with my decision to make certain this land will always be available for people to enjoy," Fitch said.
Small tracts also can be important if strategically located or if they have special features. In 1997, for example, Maureen and Dan Cover deeded eight acres on the Warm Fork of Spring River near Thayer in Oregon County to provide boating access. The George and Vida Martin Access is a memorial to Maureen's parents.
However, this was not the Covers' first gift to the citizens of Missouri. In 1985 the Covers donated 282 acres in Oregon County for use by the general public.
"We are pleased to have the opportunity to donate this land to the Department of Conservation and encourage others to do the same," Dan Cover said. "Giving the land wasn't a totally altruistic thing on our part. There were economic incentives. We used the tax breaks to buy a larger piece of land."
The 736 acres Dan and Maureen bought were closer to their home, making it possible for them to invest more time in their land. The Covers spent the next 15 years, as well as considerable