Dedication held for McGee Family Conservation Area

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A dedication ceremony was held Friday, Sept. 9, for the new McGee Family Conservation Area, a donation of almost 1,000 acres near Plattsburg to the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC).

Kansas City businessman Thomas F. McGee Jr. bequeathed his farm in Clinton County to MDC so it would be preserved as a natural area and enjoyed by the public. McGee, long an executive in his family’s Old American Insurance Co., died in January 2010.

He loved nature and he enjoyed sharing the outdoors at the farm with others, said his cousin, Thomas R. McGee of Kansas City.

“Tom loved bringing people up here,” McGee said. “Hunting quail was a passion of his and he’d come up here and hunt morel mushrooms in the spring.”

McGee was also fond of watching wildlife, such as Bobolink birds, a grassland species that migrates in winters to Central and South America.

“He said he just couldn’t let it be developed because there were so many Bobolinks living there,” said Anita Gorman of Kansas City, a former member of the Missouri Conservation Commission.

McGee Family Conservation Area is not yet open for public use. Development of a management plan and work to remove unsafe structures is ongoing. An opening date for public use has not been set.

But the area in the future will offer hunting, hiking and other outdoor pursuits. The area currently is primarily pastureland on rolling terrain. There are two ponds in fields and some frontage on the Little Platte River. MDC will in the coming years enhance wildlife habitat on the area.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what this area can become,” said Mitch Miller, MDC wildlife regional supervisor. “It’s very exciting, and it will be highly valued.”

McGee had earlier announced his plans to make the donation as a contribution to conservation progress in Missouri, said MDC Director Bob Ziehmer.

“Tom McGee understood conservation,” Ziehmer said. “He understood pleasure and harmony on this land. What Tom did with this donation is share that with future generations.”