Conservation Commission inducts Leo Drey into Hall of Fame

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The Missouri Conservation Commission recently named Leo A. Drey as the 43rd member of its Hall of Fame for his lifelong advocacy for conservation. Drey’s induction ceremony was held at the L-A-D Foundation’s annual barbeque in Salem on April 27. Conservation Commissioner David Murphy was on hand to bestow the honor to Drey’s family.

Drey passed away in May 2015 at age 98. His conservation efforts focused on acquiring parcels of land to establish the 150,000-acre Pioneer Forest, which covers parts of Dent, Carter, Reynolds, Ripley, Shannon, and Texas counties. He then donated the land to the L-A-D Foundation, which he established as an organization dedicated to preserving areas of outstanding natural or cultural resource value.  

Drey was dedicated to preserving areas of outstanding natural or cultural resource value. Over the years, he purchased and donated more than a dozen such areas to the Foundation. These sites include state-designated natural areas leased to MDC, areas leased to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources for state parks, 35 miles of frontage on the Ozark National Scenic Riverways under scenic easement to the National Park Service, lands transferred to Mark Twain National Forest, and other special designations within Pioneer Forest.

“Leo A. Drey oversaw Pioneer Forest and the L-A-D Foundation during more than half a century of tumultuous change in forest and environmental policy in the United States,” said MDC Director Sara Pauley. “With clear vision and steadfast resolve, he utilized uneven-aged forest management on his landholdings. By the 1990s, foresters and researchers recognized Pioneer Forest as a model worthy of study and many conservation agencies began to transition to ecosystem management that emphasized maintaining the continuity of the forest and the scenic, wildlife, and recreational values appreciated by the public.”

Learn more about Drey’s life and legacy from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch article at

The Missouri Conservation Hall of Fame honors deceased citizen conservationists and former employees of MDC and other conservation-related government agencies, universities, or organizations who made substantial and lasting contributions to fisheries, forestry, or wildlife resources, including conservation law enforcement and conservation education-related activities in the state. Learn more at