Neosho native named statewide Grassland Systems Manager for MDC

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Frank Loncarich has deep roots in Missouri’s native grassland areas.

As the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) Grassland Systems Manager, Loncarich’s focus will be on a part of the state that has held his interest since his days as a young quail hunter growing up in Newton County – Missouri’s native grasslands. Loncarich, a graduate of Neosho High School and an MDC wildlife management biologist since joining the agency in 2005, assumed his new position earlier in May. He replaces Max Alleger, who was promoted to MDC’s Southwest Regional Administrator.

Loncarich, who graduated from Missouri Southern State College and received a Master of Science in Biology from the University of Arkansas, brings a long history of grassland work to his new job. He co-led Missouri’s largest-ever quail study. This MDC research project, which was from 2016-2018, involved monitoring more than 1,500 radio-collared quail and more than 500 nests on areas that comprised 14,000 acres of public land. In 2015, the quail research work of Loncarich and fellow MDC biologist Kyle Hedges received national recognition when the two were presented the Fire Bird Conservation Award by the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative.

Loncarich is still an avid quail hunter, but his new duties involve much more than bobwhite management. In his new position, he will have statewide grassland responsibilities on public lands and will also work with private landowners across Missouri. This connection with private landowners is important because native grasses aren’t just good for wildlife – they also have benefits for landowners. Adding native warm-season grass pastures to a rotational grazing system creates a forage system that allows livestock owners to keep their herds on high-quality forage throughout the summer. This is because warm-season grasses are at their peak nutritional value in summer and, thus, can provide high-quality forage during summer months – a period when nonnative cool-season grasses are not at their peak nutritional value.

And, of course, native grasses also provide benefits to wildlife species that sorely need them in 21st century Missouri. Grassland birds are considered among the most at-risk group of bird species in the U.S. Combined populations of birds that utilize native grassland habitats have declined by more than 40 percent since 1966.

“Native grasslands are perhaps our most imperiled ecosystem,” Loncarich said. “I am excited to help lead MDC’s efforts to conserve, promote, and increase native grasslands in Missouri and to help the species that depend on our precious grassland resources.

Loncarich can be reached at More about how MDC works with Missouri landowners to improve grassland habitat on their property can be found at