Missouri’s great outdoors provides endless opportunities to challenge the imagination, expand knowledge levels, test/grow skills and create lasting memories. A few weeks ago, my youngest daughter, Lauren, and I spent time on a conservation area watching prairie-chickens in the west central portion of our state. Looking over the prairie’s open vista of blooming colors documented the success of Missouri’s citizen-created conservation system.
Across our state, more than 900 conservation areas provide citizens access to outdoor adventures. Whether you are interested in watching wildlife, hunting, canoeing and boating, target shooting, camping, fishing, hiking or spending time at a nature center, conservation areas are located in most counties.
Currently, the Department holds in public trust approximately 795,000 acres (i.e., 1.7 percent of Missouri’s acres). Input received from individuals and communities reveals the important role conservation areas continue to serve. Surveys reveal that 91 percent of Missourians agree that outdoor places should be protected. Providing close-to-home opportunities and public access, to both urban and rural areas of the state, are two of the most often mentioned benefits. However, the enhanced quality of life, resource management and economic benefits associated with conservation areas are real and should not be overlooked.
It is important to note, the Department does make payments to counties for land held as conservation areas. County payments are annually made under the in-lieu-tax and forest cropland programs. These programs, along with an established review cycle for the in-lieu-tax program, help ensure county governments do not lose property tax revenues.
I fondly remember many days afield with my father, made possible because conservation areas provided access to a fishing location, a campsite or wildlife habitat. These doors of opportunity, combined with spending time with family and friends, resulted in memories I continue to cherish.
I encourage you to visit the Department’s website MissouriConservation.org or contact your regional conservation office (see Page 3) to become familiar with conservation areas and the diversity awaiting your visit. Then plan an adventure and enjoy Missouri’s great outdoors.
The “click” of Lauren’s camera captured a memory we will remember for years. The prairie-chicken stood for only a few photos before taking flight into the morning sky.
Missouri conservation areas provide citizens some amazing outdoor experiences. Take time to enjoy and introduce friends to our state’s natural resources. I am interested in hearing about your adventures. Drop me a note and your favorite photo, taken on or associated with a conservation area, and I will select one or two for use in the January issue of the Conservationist. Please either e-mail your photos to email@example.com with “director’s photo selection” in the subject line, or mail it to Missouri Conservationist, director’s photo selection, PO Box 180, Jefferson City 65102-0180.
Robert L. Ziehmer, director
Editor In Chief - Ara Clark
Managing Editor - Nichole LeClair Terrill
Art Director - Cliff White
Writer/Editor - Tom Cwynar
Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Artist - Dave Besenger
Artist - Mark Raithel
Circulation - Laura Scheuler