MDC hosts gathering of Midwest conservation leaders at Shaw Nature Reserve

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GRAY SUMMIT, Mo.—The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) recently hosted the Midwest Landscape Initiative (MLI) Steering Committee retreat.  The MLI is a collaboration of fish and wildlife organizations made of Midwestern states and central Canadian provinces that works together to identify shared conservation priorities.  MLI’s priorities are to develop solutions for healthy, functioning ecosystems in the Midwest.

The meeting took place Aug. 24-25 at Shaw Nature Reserve in Gray Summit.  MLI’s steering committee is co-chaired by MDC Director Sara Pauley and consists of conservation leadership from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and state fish and wildlife agencies, including Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Illinois, and Indiana.  Challenges the MLI focuses on include conserving at-risk species, inventory and assessment of natural habitats, and reducing impacts of wind energy production on wildlife.

The August retreat was especially important because it marked the first time the group met in person since the beginning of the COVID pandemic.  “This gathering was a critical step to discuss decision-support tools and tackle challenging topics which affect collaborative conservation, both across the Midwest and nationally,” said Pauley.

During the meeting, the steering committee discussed a number of approaches they will explore to support the conservation and restoration of natural communities across the Midwest through coordinated planning, expanded partnerships and leveraged financial and staffing resources.  Staff at Shaw Nature Reserve also gave a presentation and conducted a tour for the group on natural habitat restoration projects on the property. 

“This meeting gave us the opportunity to help realize the vision of MLI,” said Craig Czarnecki of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and MLI Steering Committee co-chair.  That vision, as stated on the MLI website, is “a thriving landscape of healthy lands and waters supporting wildlife, fish, and plants, embraced by all who live, work, and recreate in the Midwest.”

“MDC would like to express its appreciation to Shaw Nature Reserve and members of the MLI Steering Committee who attended the retreat and contributed of their time and expertise in working toward shared goals,” said Pauley.