MDC Notable News from 2018

News from the region
Published Date

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Looking back on 2018, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) offers some highlights on its notable news during the past year. Use the included links for additional information and images.

For more on MDC activities over the past year, read the Department’s Annual Review in the January issue of the Missouri Conservationist and online at


Missouri Governor Mike Parson announced the appointment of long-time conservationist and outdoor enthusiast Nicole Wood of Bonne Terre to the Missouri Conservation Commission in July. More at

Mike Hubbard of California was named MDC Deputy Director - Resource Management June 1. Hubbard assumed the role upon the retirement of MDC Deputy Director Tom Draper. Read more at

MDC honored Ron Brown of El Dorado Springs in January with the Eugene F. McNamara Memorial Award for his more than 30 years presenting Smokey Bear programs throughout Missouri. Read more at

MDC recognized Matt and Kate Lambert of Brookfield in January with the first Missouri Leopold Conservation Award for their conservation efforts at their Uptown Farms in north-central Missouri. Read more at

MDC’s Springfield Nature Center celebrated 30 years of serving nature and you in October. More at

MDC’s Cape Girardeau Nature Center received a 2018 TripAdvisor® Certificate of Excellence. The achievement celebrates businesses that have earned great traveler reviews on TripAdvisor over the past year. More at

MDC’s Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery Conservation Center received its 8 millionth visitor in July. More at

Lawrence County Conservation Agent Andy Barnes was named the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ 2018 Wildlife Officer of the Year. More at

MDC held a dedication ceremony in November at its Twin Pines Conservation Education Center in Winona to rename the education building on the area in honor of former MDC Director Jerry Presley. More at

MDC held a ceremony in November to dedicate the 2,500-acre Lowell Mohler Wetland Unit at the Bob Brown Conservation Area in Holt County. The dedication honored Mohler’s service to conservation, including serving as a member of the Missouri Conservation Commission from 2003 to 2009. More at

Mike Brooks of Willard, manager of MDC’s Andy Dalton Shooting Range and Outdoor Education Center in Greene County, received the International Hunter Education Association Executive Director’s Award for his leadership and dedication to the Hunting Incident Investigation Academy, a national education program for training professional wildlife officers in the proper techniques for investigating and documenting hunting-related shootings. More at


Terry Lowery of Hurley found a young two-headed western ratsnake last October and brought it to the MDC Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery in Branson where it is on display. Read more at

MDC, Missouri landowners, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources worked together in August and September to restore ruffed grouse to Missouri by trapping and relocating the first 100 of 300 grouse from northern Wisconsin to the River Hills region of east-central Missouri over three years. More at

MDC hosted open houses in December and took public comments on options for a future, limited elk-hunting season in Missouri. More at


Richard Bradshaw of Winona, Maverick Yoakum of Dixon, Bryant Rackers of Bonnots Mill, Michael Williams of Wappapello, Kerry Glenn of Sedalia, Rick Sartin of Birch Tree, and Jason Reynolds of Warsaw caught state-record fish in 2018. More at


More than 653,000 acres of MDC land was certified to one of the world’s most recognized, independent, third-party forest management certification standards -- the Sustainable Forestry Initiative ® 2015-2019 Forest Management Standard. More at

For the first time ever, more than 100 Missouri communities are participants in Tree City USA, representing 45 percent of the state’s population. More at

MDC’s Champion Tree program celebrated 50 years of tracking Missouri’s biggest known trees in 2018. There are more than 130 species on the list, ranging from a scarlet oak stretching 15 stories tall to a winged sumac with a trunk just over three inches in diameter. More at

MDC named Robert Neal and Chesley Neal of Winona Missouri’s State Loggers of the Year for 2018. The Neals were also named MDC regional loggers of the year for the Ozark Region. More at

Missouri State Forester Lisa Allen of Jefferson City was elected president of the National Association of State Foresters. Allen is chief of MDC’s Forestry Division. More at

MDC recognized this year’s Tree Farmers of the Year Garry Gordon and Elaine De Jovin of Putnam County. More at


Conservation lost a great advocate with the passing of Pat Jones at 93 in December. Along with her late husband Edward D. “Ted” Jones, the couple were lifelong conservationists and advocates for natural-resource protection and education. They donated millions to the state of Missouri to acquire and develop the Katy Trail and to establish the Katy Trail State Park. Jones also donated land to MDC in 1997 to form Prairie Fork Conservation Area and create a partnership between MDC, the University of Missouri School of Natural Resources, and the Missouri Prairie Foundation for ongoing natural resource education, natural community restoration, and environmental research. In addition, the Conservation Commission awarded Jones its Master Conservationist Award in 2006, the highest honor bestowed upon citizens of the state who have accomplished exemplary conservation work.


In December, court sentencings finalized one of the state’s largest-ever poaching investigations, which involved approximately 100 conservation agents, along with other state, federal, and Canadian wildlife officers arresting multiple individuals who poached hundreds of deer over several years. The investigation tied 14 Missouri residents to over 230 charges that occurred in 11 Missouri counties. Three suspects were tied to additional wildlife violations in Kansas, Nebraska, and Canada. Two suspects were tied to Federal Lacey Act Wildlife violations that occurred in Kansas, Nebraska, and Canada. The convictions were made with information obtained from the public through Operation Game Thief, a hotline sponsored by MDC and the Conservation Federation of Missouri. Read more at

Nearly 150 conservation-partner individuals and organizations joined MDC for its 2018 Conservation Partner Roundtable in Columbia in October to discuss conservation challenges for Missouri and how to address them.

MDC’s Rod and Reel Loaner Program topped 100 community locations in February and offers free “loaner” fishing gear around the state at libraries, MDC offices and nature centers, state parks, and marinas. Learn more at

MDC partnered with the City of Memphis to help fund a new archery range at the Memphis Reservoir. More at

MDC opened the Alfred Newton Gossett Conservation Area in Dallas County for public use in May. More at

MDC partnered with the Missouri Department of Transportation and the Missouri Prairie Foundation to eliminate invasive plants along 723 miles of roadways from the top of Ste. Genevieve County to the southern border of Missouri. More at

MDC awarded nearly $390,000 in grant funds to 174 rural fire departments in August for the purchase of gear and equipment to help fight wildfires. More at

MDC awarded 38 grants totaling $302,346 to Missouri communities through its Tree Resource Improvement and Maintenance (TRIM) grant program. TRIM grants offer cost-share funding for government agencies, public schools, and nonprofit groups to manage, improve or conserve trees on public lands. More at

MDC, partner agencies, and private landowners removed more than 8,280 invasive feral hogs from the state as of November 2018. More at

In July, MDC took ownership of the former Wildcat Glades Audubon and Nature Center in Joplin. MDC renamed it the Shoal Creek Conservation Education Center to recognize the importance of stream health and the rare chert glades in the area. 


At its August meeting, the Conservation Commission approved a regulation change that will limit free landowner permits for deer and turkey hunting to only qualifying resident landowners and members of their immediate households age six years or older. The regulation change eliminates free permits for those who lease land.  

Following several public meetings, the Conservation Commission approved crappie fishing regulations for Smithville Lake in Clay County and Wappapello Lake in Wayne County that both allow anglers to keep more crappie and help improve the size of black crappie in the lakes. Under the regulation change, there is no minimum length limit for crappie and the daily limit remains at 30 crappie, but not more than 15 of those fish can be above 9 inches. More at and

MDC expanded its restrictions on feeding deer and placing minerals for deer to seven new counties in July in response to finding cases of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in or near them. The seven new counties are: Bollinger, Cape Girardeau, Grundy, Madison, McDonald, Mercer, and Perry. The seven new counties join 41 existing counties of MDC’s CWD Management Zone where feeding deer and placing minerals for deer is restricted. More at

The Conservation Commission approved regulations in August that will require the use of nontoxic shot for hunting doves on 20 conservation areas with heavy, concentrated dove hunting and adding 16 areas to its existing 21 conservation areas where nontoxic shot is required for all hunting with shotguns. The effective date is March 1. More at

MDC began offering free tissue sampling of harvested deer for chronic wasting disease (CWD statewide during the entire deer season from September through January. More at MDC also continued its mandatory CWD sampling of deer harvested during the opening weekend of the November firearms deer season with 31 counties included in the mandatory sampling and more than 20,000 samples collected. More at


MDC and the Conservation Federation of Missouri, in partnership with 670 participating schools (now more than 700) and numerous supporting organizations throughout the state, held the 10th annual Missouri National Archery in the Schools Program (MoNASP) state tournament in March in Branson. A record-setting 3,132 Missouri student archers in grades 4-12 from a record-setting 140 schools across the state participated. The event also drew more than 10,000 spectators. The top overall archer was Norwood R-1 Sophomore Savannah Sadler and top overall male archer was Helias High School Sophomore Jacob Wankum. George Guffey Elementary continued its dominance by winning the team division again this year.

Carthage High School Sophomore Trenton Meyer made history by being the first MoNASP student archer to shoot a perfect score of 300.

Missouri’s Billings R-IV School District received the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) Community Service Award and Rachael Ross from New Madrid County R-1 received the NASP Courage Award.

Eighth Grader Ally Nordell from Sarcoxie Middle School was named over all female champion in this year’s Eastern NASP National Tournament. Trenton Meyer took second place overall in the male division. Sophomore Donald Holupka from Hillsboro High School took third place overall in the male division.

Sophomore Kamryn Twehus from Blair Oaks High School dominated the NASP World Tournament by taking first in the high school girls division and being the overall individual champion of the tournament. Donald Holupka took first place in the high school boys division and took second place overall in the NASP World Tournament.
Ally Nordell and Donald Holupka were members of the USA team that competed and won gold at the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) All-Star Team Championship in Alberta, Canada, in July. Read more about MONASP at


MDC moved from semiannual live auctions to a 24/7 online auction for used vehicles, boats, motors, tractors, trailers, farm equipment, office equipment, and other items for sale through the online auction website More at

MDC launched a new research website at dedicated to the extensive scientific research staff do. More at

MDC began a $1.9 million renovation project in September that will bring state-of-the-art technology to its Roaring River Hatchery in Barry County. More at

MDC began offering an all-online bowhunter education course for Missouri residents 16 year and older. More at

MDC launched its new, free mobile app – MO Outdoors in December to help users find MDC outdoor offerings based on the types of outdoor activities they want close to home, work, or even while traveling. More at


Learn more about MDC news and other happenings at