No overview of any region of the state would be complete without taking a look at resource management on private land. The tracts under the stewardship of private landowners account for about 93 percent of the overall landscape.
Long-term, sustainable benefits from our natural world are not possible without the cooperation of landowners. They play a critical role in maintaining and enhancing the diversity and health of our environment.
Both landowners and landscape vary widely in the Central Region. Terrestrial to aquatic, glade to wetland, and forest to prairie habitats are managed by multi-generation farmers and ranchers to first-time owners of rural acreage.
The Missouri Department of Conservation has for decades provided technical assistance to state landowners. Guidance and resources for improving wildlife habitat, as well as fisheries and forestry management, have been provided by conservation agents, biologists, foresters and, more recently, by private land conservationists.
In addition to Department staff, partner agencies such as the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service and Farm Service Agency have played a major role in supplying technical guidance and financial resources to landowners implementing conservation practices. Also, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s “Partners For Wildlife” program offers assistance to landowners managing for species and habitats of concern.
Sportsmen have long supported habitat management through dedicated tax dollars. However, in more recent times, groups such as Ducks Unlimited, the National Wild Turkey Federation, the Ruffed Grouse Society and Quail Unlimited have also funneled thousands of dollars from private fundraising efforts into the region to support landowner conservation efforts.
But no matter the amount of resources provided by others, without the commitment and efforts of individual landowners, landscape-scale conservation would not be possible. Here is a small sampling of landowners’ experiences with land stewardship in the Central Region.
Small game, big changes
In the east-central part of the region, a father and son landowner team have worked for decades on conservation concerns. Since the mid-70s, Arvil and Doug Kappelmann have managed their 300-acre Gasconade/Franklin County farm with soil conservation and wildlife habitat in mind.
Like many Missouri landowners, the Kappelmanns had become frustrated with decreasing small game populations. They thought that their food plot management activities should have sustained the quail and rabbit populations and could not understand why they didn’t see more wildlife.
It was only when Doug learned more about Missouri’s native plants and their communities that the Kappelmanns saw their farm differently. It wasn’t the food that was