NEOSHO, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) wants to know what Missourians think about its nearly 1,000 conservation areas around the state. Two MDC public use areas in Newton County – Fort Crowder Conservation Area and Bicentennial Conservation Area – are among the areas currently under review.
MDC is inviting the public to provide comments about Fort Crowder Conservation Area and Bicentennial Conservation Area to aid staff in developing a 25-year management plan for the popular public use area. Interested persons or groups – including recreational users, neighboring landowners, conservation groups, elected officials and government agencies – can preview the draft management plan and share comments online April 1-30 at www.mdc.mo.gov/areaplans.
The 2,363-acre Fort Crowder Conservation Area is located south of Neosho. Approximately 60 percent of the area is forested and the remainder of the area is native grassland areas, crop fields or old field areas. Numerous hunting and nature-viewing opportunities exist at the area.
Fort Crowder area also has an unstaffed firearms and archery ranges. The shooting range is located in the northwest part of the area and features 25, 50, and 100-yard ranges as well as an informal shotgun range. The shooting range is closed Mondays for maintenance. The archery range is at the area’s eastern edge and features a walk-through field range and a static archery range.
The 721-acre Bicentennial Conservation Area is also south of Neosho and near the Fort Crowder Conservation Area. The Crowder and Bicentennial areas were both part of the Camp Crowder Army Base used by the U.S. Army during World War II. The area features hiking, horseback riding and bicycling opportunities on designated trails. Bicentennial is not open to hunting other than the managed archery deer hunt held at the area each fall.
Conservation Area Management Plans focus on natural resource management and public use on conservation areas. The plans do not address regulations on hunting, fishing, and other area uses, which are set by the Conservation Commission and enforced under the Wildlife Code of Missouri. MDC will consider all ideas received and will work to balance the issues and interests identified with the responsibility of managing areas for the present and future benefits to forest, fish, wildlife, and people. Decisions on which ideas to incorporate into area plans and on how to best incorporate them will be based on the property’s purpose, it’s physical and biological conditions and capabilities, the best roles of the property in its local, regional, and statewide context, and on the professional expertise of MDC staff.
Statewide, MDC conservation areas cover almost one million public acres for the purpose of restoring and conserving forest, fish, and wildlife resources, and for providing opportunities for all citizens to use, enjoy, and learn about these resources. Most Missourians are in a 30-minute drive of an MDC conservation area.