MDC Notable News from 2023

News from the region
Published Date

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) had an assortment of notable news during 2023 including partnership accomplishments, new state records, awards, renovations, regulation changes, and more. 

See the news highlights below and follow the links for more information and images.



MDC welcomed folks in January to its new Howard Wood St. Louis Urban Outreach Office at 4640 Shenandoah Ave in St. Louis. More at 

The Missouri Conservation Commission and MDC welcomed Ray Wagner Jr. of Town and Country in St. Louis County in September as the newest member of the Conservation Commission. Wagner replaced Barry Orscheln of Columbia whose six-year term expired July 1. Wagner joins Commission Chair Steven D. Harrison of Rolla, Vice Chair Margaret F. (Margy) Eckelkamp of Washington, and Secretary Mark L. McHenry of Kansas City. More at

MDC welcomed Greenwood Laboratory School in Springfield in September as the 1,000th member of the Missouri National Archery in the Schools Program (MoNASP). More at 

MDC welcomed more than 180 new staff members in 2023. MDC is still hiring and has positions open around the state. Find more about MDC job openings at 

MDC welcomed 16 new conservation agents in October. More at



For more than 30 years, MDC and the Missouri Community Forestry Council have partnered to recognize Missourians who are outstanding stewards of community trees. Congratulations to the 2023 recipients of the Missouri Arbor Awards of Excellence: Troy Powell, David Ball, Tower Grove Park, MD-Kinney -- a division of Ingersoll Rand, and the City of Grandview. More at

Conservation Agent Donald Fessler of Linn County received the Missouri Medal of Valor for his heroic actions during the Mendon train derailment. Fessler helped several of the injured including an Amtrack employee whose arm had become trapped between the ground and the wreckage. More at 

MDC and the Missouri Conservation Commission posthumously honored retired MDC Assistant Fisheries Division Chief Lee Redmond by inducting him into the Missouri Conservation Hall of Fame in July. More at

MDC and the Missouri Conservation Commission honored retired MDC Resource Scientist Lonnie Hansen of Columbia with their Master Conservationist Award in July. More at 

Runge Conservation Nature Center in Jefferson City celebrated its 30th anniversary in July.  More at 

MDC honored former Commissioner Don Bedell during a dedication ceremony in April for the Don C. Bedell Unit of Peck Ranch Conservation Area. More at 

MDC Director Sara Parker Pauley was given the top honor from the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies – its Seth Gordon Award for lifetime achievement in conserving North America’s natural resources in the public trust and contributing to the programs of the Association. More at



Congratulations to Travis Uebinger of Auxvasse on catching the first state record fish of 2023 – an 11-pound, 5-ounce blue sucker. Uebinger was fishing on the Osage River Jan. 15 when he caught the fish using the pole-and-line method. More at 

Congratulations to Mitchell Dering of Fairdealing on shooting a state record 4-pound brown bullhead while bowfishing at Duck Creek Conservation Area in March. More at 

Congratulations to Tyler Goodale of Doniphan for his state-record 11-ounce flier he caught in March from Duck Creek Conservation Area using the pole-and-line method. Goodale actually caught two record-worthy fliers that day, both identical in weight and length. More at 

Congratulations to John Goad of Jefferson City for tying the current state record for longear sunfish in May. More at 

Congratulations to Anthony Rozniak of St. Peters for tying the current state records for skipjack herring in December. More at



MDC partnered with the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation and the University of Missouri’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources to launch a new Mizzou Institute of Fisheries, Wetlands and Aquatic Systems in March. More at .

About a year after a zoo-reared Ozark hellbender successfully fathered a clutch of eggs in the wild, an eastern hellbender has followed suit and reproduced in the wild on the Gasconade River. MDC’s partnership with the Saint Louis Zoo to recover hellbender populations is creating a bright future for the endangered Ozark and eastern hellbender in Missouri. More at 

MDC and partners broke ground in April for a new pump station at Schell-OsageConservation Area in northeastern Vernon County. More at

MDC and the City of Dexter worked together in 2023 to bring restroom facilities and a walkway to Dexter City Lake through a Land Conservation Partnership Grant implemented as part of an ongoing Community Assistance Program agreement. More at

MDC and the City of Campbell partnered to open the City of Campbell Shooting Range Complex in Dunklin County in 2023. More at

In October, MDC partnered with the City of Baring in Knox County and Forest ReLeaf to replant trees that were damaged by a tornado earlier this year. More at 

MDC and partners successfully removed more than 38,000 lbs. of invasive carp in September from the Grand River. More at 

MDC and Columbia Public Schools continued the development of the Boone County Nature School in 2023 with a dedication of the new council house. More at 

MDC and Rock Bridge Elementary School in Columbia celebrated 30 years of Partnership in Education in 2023. The program allows Columbia Public Schools to partner with members of the community to share resources, strengthen school programs, and enhance the community’s economic growth. More at 



MDC is restoring wildlife-friendly native grassland habitat on 600 acres of the Bilby Ranch Conservation Area in Nodaway County. More at 

MDC refocused its vision for Columbia Bottom Conservation Area in Spanish Lake to focus on managing the area to work with the natural flooding cycles of the river and cultivate the habitat benefits of a healthy floodplain. This will provide important wetland habitat for wildlife, flood relief for neighboring areas, and unique recreational opportunities for area users. More at 



MDC opened a new Jerome Access at new site on the Gasconade River in Phelps County. More at 

The new Lamberson Conservation Area in Texas County opened to the public on Sept. 1. More at 

Construction began in August on renovations at Bennett Spring Fish Hatchery in Lebanon. More at 

MDC broke ground in April on a new Shepherd of the Hills Conservation Center in Branson. More at 



MDC changed hunting regulations for the spring turkey season and has proposed regulation changes for the fall turkey seasons. Spring shooting hours for private land only will be extended from a half-hour before sunrise to sunset. Shooting hours on public land will remain a half-hour before sunrise to 1 p.m. Proposed changes to fall turkey hunting would require both fall firearms turkey hunters and fall archery turkey hunters to purchase a fall turkey-hunting permit. Turkeys would no longer be included in the archery-deer permit. The bag limit would be reduced from four to two birds. MDC welcomes public comments. More at 

The Missouri Conservation Commission approved MDC permit price adjustments in September with permit price increases taking effect Feb. 29. More at 

MDC made regulation changes to deer hunting in 2023 that include a new firearms early antlerless portion, a new firearms CWD portion, changes to firearms antlerless permit numbers, and the addition of 14 new counties to the MDC CWD Management Zone. More at 

In July, MDC began offering a new online application for Special Use Permits on conservation areas. More at


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