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Published on: Apr. 17, 2012

knowledge of prairies and generates greater interest in Missouri’s native grasslands. Learn more at

The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy and MDC have a long history of working together, sharing resources and knowledge to help achieve the conservation goals of both organizations.

In the Current River watershed, for example, MDC and the Conservancy team up to implement prescribed fires, which improve native habitat, watershed quality and reduce the threat of severe wildfires. This watershed is a top priority for both groups, as it provides habitat for an incredible array of native species and supports local economies through the timber and tourism industries.

This partnership has also created an “outdoor laboratory” along the Current River at the Conservancy’s Chilton Creek Preserve, where a long-term research and land management collaboration is assessing the effects of fire and other practices in woodland restoration. This research provides valuable information for conservation groups and other landowners.

“The cooperation and coordination between The Nature Conservancy and MDC also allowed for a significant expansion of the Sunklands Natural Area, which features the longest sinkhole in Missouri, unusual sinkhole pond marshes, remnant shortleaf pine woodlands and over a dozen rare species of plants and animals,” says Michael Leahy, MDC natural areas coordinator.

The vast majority of land in the Ozarks is privately owned. In some instances, however, MDC and the Conservancy partner to acquire unique habitats that are managed as public land for the benefit of both nature and people—such as the 83,000 acres obtained in 1991 from the Kerr-McGee Corporation.

“For nearly half a century, the Conservancy and MDC have partnered to the benefit of Missouri’s forest resources,” says Todd Sampsell, Missouri state director for the Conservancy. “Missourians are fortunate to have an abundance of healthy, productive forests, and we value MDC’s expertise and commitment to sustaining this natural heritage for future generations.”

MDC and the Conservancy also work with private landowners to help keep their lands economically productive, while at the same time providing conservation benefits such as watershed protection or improving natural habitat. Along the Meramec River, the two organizations assisted rancher Susan Wallach with the installation of a crossing over the Meramec River. The crossing connected Susan’s pastures, allowing cattle, trucks and farm equipment to cross the stream safely. The crossing also prevented sediment and nutrients from entering the Meramec.

“As a people, we all depend on healthy natural systems to sustain our economy and quality of life,” says Doug Ladd, the Conservancy’s director of conservation science. “To conserve these resources for the benefit of present and future generations, our society must weave conservation into the fabric of everyday life, building on partnerships such as the one between MDC and the Conservancy.”

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