Conservancy and others. The Department’s emphasis has shifted away from acquiring substantial new acreage, and is now more focused on improving infrastructure and access to existing conservation areas, as well as ongoing efforts to manage habitat to benefit wildlife.
The land acquisition budget back in 1979–87 averaged 29 percent of the Department’s budget. Today, land acquisition comprises less than 1 percent of the Department’s annual budget.
Managing Conservation Areas for Wildlife and People
To benefit the greatest number of wildlife species, MDC maintains a high level of active management on conservation lands—especially for quail and grassland birds.
In 2011, this included habitat-management activities on nearly 185,000 acres, including: 43,000 acres of wetlands; 21,000 acres of woodlands, forests and savannas; 76,000 acres of croplands (including 12,000 acres of food plots); 24,000 acres of grasslands and prairies; 20,000 acres of old fields; and 1,000 acres of glades.
“MDC intensely manages a number of conservation areas for increased hunting opportunities for rabbit, squirrel, dove and quail in an effort to recruit and maintain a strong hunting heritage,” says DeeCee Darrow, MDC wildlife division chief.
The Department continues to rehabilitate five of the state’s oldest wetland conservation areas: Fountain Grove, Duck Creek, Montrose, Schell-Osage and Ted Shanks. Ted Shanks Conservation Area (CA) restoration is complete and future development plans are underway for sections owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Work at Fountain Grove CA is nearing completion and initial planning efforts are underway at Montrose CA. Learn more about Missouri’s public wetlands at mdc.mo.gov/node/4222.
The Department manages 440,000 acres of public forestland on conservation areas throughout the state. Last year, MDC completed more than 49,880 acres of active management, including forest inventory, tree planting, timber sales, forest stand improvement, wildlife-management practices, and glade and savanna management.
“The Department also stewards the state’s forests by leading statewide wildfire-suppression efforts,” says Lisa Allen, Missouri state forester. “MDC foresters work with more than 770 fire departments to offer training, provide fire equipment grants and promote wildfire prevention activities.”
MDC’s conservation area management continues to connect citizens with nature through the recent completion of the following major construction projects: Eminence City Park access, Eagle Bluffs CA office and draw room, Kansas City Regional Office, Central Regional Office, improvements to the Shepherd of the Hills, Lost Valley and Roaring River hatcheries, Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center, the Jay Henges Shooting Range renovation, Roaring Rivers Fish Hatchery improvements