New citizen conservation effort forming in southwest Missouri

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Citizen involvement and public input are crucial parts of natural resource conservation.

Citizens often have first-hand knowledge and valuable background information of local environmental issues. Plus, more than 90 percent of Missouri's land is in private ownership, which means the bulk of the state's wildlife habitat isn't on public land.

These are the factors driving a new conservation initiative in southwest Missouri – the Missouri Local Environmental Advisory Forum (LEAF). This program is a partnership between the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and the Harry S. Truman Coordinating Council (HSTCC). The program's focus is Barton, Newton, McDonald and Jasper counties – the four counties HSTCC serves. A primary goal of LEAF is to empower local stakeholders to implement conservation projects that are important to them.

A series of LEAF open houses this summer will provide residents with opportunities to discuss conservation topics in their areas. Natural resource professionals will be available to hear about local issues and to provide information on how to get projects started. There will also be information about how to get funding and technical assistance for projects. Here is the LEAF open house schedule:

  • Barton County: May 28, Memorial Hall, 1100 Broadway, Lamar
  • Newton County: June 11, George Washington Carver National Monument, 5646 Carver Road, Diamond
  • McDonald County: June 25, Pineville Community Center, 602 Jesse James Road, Pineville
  • Jasper County: July 7, Carthage Water and Electric, 627 W. Centennial, Carthage.

Each open house will be 3 p.m.-7 p.m. and will have a children's activity area and light refreshments. These open houses will be great opportunities for resource professionals to get ideas from citizens and for county residents to hear about close-to-home conservation success stories.

More information about these open houses and about the LEAF program can be found at Information about LEAF can also be obtained by contacting MDC Community Conservation Planner Ronda Headland at or at 417-866-1127.