Nature Lab

By Dianne Van Dien | December 1, 2022
From Missouri Conservationist: December 2022

Natural Resource Economics

Missouri Outdoor Recreational Access Program (MRAP)

Through the Missouri Outdoor Recreational Access Program (MRAP), MDC provides financial incentives to private landowners who open their land to the public for hunting, fishing, or wildlife viewing. As only 7 percent of land in Missouri is publicly owned, MRAP’s purpose is to create more public outdoor opportunities.

“We have MRAP sites from near West Plains all the way up to St. Joe. So, they cover a good mix of habitats, from farm areas and prairie to forested areas in the Ozarks,” says MRAP Crew Leader Carmella Rackers.

To enroll in MRAP, landowners must allow access to 40 or more acres and at least 20 percent must be quality habitat. Along with annual payments of $23–$25 per acre, MDC offers technical assistance and cost share money for improving habitat.

“The program provides financial flexibility to landowners,” explains Natural Resource Economist Tom Treiman. “Instead of plowing everything for crops, they can keep some habitat that typically would not provide any kind of income whatsoever. Keeping that habitat obviously helps all sorts of wildlife and fish.”

Usage data is collected through survey cards that visitors fill out at a kiosk on the property. A study in 2016 found that visitors spent about $120,000 that year on travel and equipment directly related to MRAP outings. Since then, the number of sites and visitors has increased. Based on the 2016 study, Treiman estimates that from 2017–2021 an average of $557,000 was added each year to Missouri’s economy from MRAP-related purchases, such as gas and equipment or eating at restaurants.

“MRAP also provides non-monetary value,” says Treiman. “People get to go outdoors, they get to recreate, they maybe get a trophy. So, it’s money plus all these intangible benefits.”

MRAP at a Glance

Through MRAP, private landowners open their land to the public for outdoor recreation. Begun in 2014, MRAP currently offers 50 sites to the public, totaling 14,920 acres. An average of 4,891 people visited the sites each year from 2017—2021.

Property owners choose which type of activities will be allowed on their land.

Number of Sites by Activity Type

For a map showing MRAP properties and where to access them, visit



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This Issue's Staff

Magazine Manager - Stephanie Thurber
Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
Associate Editor - Larry Archer
Photography Editor - Cliff White
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek
Staff Writer – Dianne Van Dien
Designer - Shawn Carey
Designer - Marci Porter
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Circulation - Laura Scheuler