What are conservation areas?
These are lands MDC owns or manages for conservation and public use. We currently have more than 1,000 conservation areas scattered across the state. Their sizes vary greatly, and they total nearly 1 million acres. Many areas have specific purposes, such as providing fishing and hunting opportunities, maintaining forest-fire tower sites, or the protection and management of native prairies. Some conservation areas, such as shooting ranges and outdoor education centers, exist to help people learn and practice outdoor skills. The public uses our conservation areas primarily for fishing, hunting, nature observation and conservation education.
You can recognize conservation areas in your community and throughout Missouri by the brown signs that display the MDC triangle logo.
For more information, including directions and recreation opportunities, visit Places to Go.
What's the difference between a conservation area and a state park or other public land?
Purpose. Conservation areas exist to conserve natural diversity and provide conservation-related recreation and education opportunities. Parks often also serve other needs, such as team-sport activities or social gatherings. Although some of our conservation areas have staffed interpretive centers and maintained trails, some have only unpaved parking lots. These less-developed areas keep wild places wild, while giving people access to nature.
Ownership and management. The Department of Conservation owns or manages conservation areas. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is responsible for state parks. Local government agencies are typically responsible for city and county parks. Federal agencies, such as the U.S. Forest Service, are responsible for other public outdoor areas, such as national forests.
What are conservation area management plans?
These plans document strategies for natural resource management and public use on conservation areas. Conservation area plans also help communicate an area’s purpose and management direction to staff and interested citizens. When draft plans become available, conservation area management plans are posted for a month-long public comment period.
How do I comment on conservation area management plans?
Please visit our Conservation Area Plans Open for Comment page or visit your local MDC office or nature center. As they become available, area plans will remain open for a month-long public comment period.
How do I comment on conservation area regulations?
Conservation area plans do not address specific regulations (rules regarding hunting, fishing, field trials, vehicles, bicycles, equestrian use, etc.) that are set by the Conservation Commission. Area-specific regulations can be found in area brochures or on specific area entries in the Missouri Conservation Areas Atlas.
Mail or fax comments about an area’s regulations to the following office:
Regulations Committee Chair
Missouri Department of Conservation
PO Box 180
Jefferson City, MO 65102
What is the public review process for conservation area plans?
- Area planning teams develop draft area management plans.
- Plans are made available on the Department website and at Department offices for a one-month public comment period.
- Area planning teams review public comments, consider the scope and applicability/feasibility of those comments.
- Finalized area plans are made available online and at Department offices.
How will conservation area plan decisions be made?
Management priorities for conservation areas reflect regionally established goals, area purpose and capabilities, and public-use compatibility. In addition, many conservation areas were acquired with federal funding, which restricts the types of activities allowed on those areas.
Decisions on which ideas to incorporate into the conservation area plan and on how to best incorporate them will be based on the property’s purpose, its physical and biological conditions and capabilities, the best role of the property in its local, regional and state-wide context, and on the professional expertise of Department staff.
While a broad range of public interests will be heard and considered in developing area plans, the final decision-making responsibility and authority on conservation area plans rests with the Missouri Department of Conservation.