Priority Geographies

River lined with trees with autumn leaves
Priority Geographies
Building Partnerships for Healthy Landscapes

What is a priority geography?

Priority geographies are key landscapes in Missouri that hold high potential for conserving our state’s diverse habitats and the plants and animals that depend on them.

Within these areas, MDC biologists, partner organizations, and private landowners work together to make the landscape healthier and more profitable. The end results will be a boon for fish, forests, and wildlife and will increase recreational opportunities, aesthetics, and the economic value of private property.

MDC has designated nine priority geographies. These landscapes are now receiving focused attention for habitat enhancement. Each of the nine areas includes varying amounts of privately owned and public lands, and contains one or more MDC-managed conservation areas. More priority geographies may be added as time and funding allow. Explore this section for details about each of the current priority geographies.


MDC Priority Geographies

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Why are these areas important?

Priority geographies can provide large areas of continuous habitat that is vital to the survival of Missouri’s plants and wildlife.

State and federally owned lands make up only about 7 percent of Missouri’s land area and are scattered around the state. These fragmented habitats are not enough to support and maintain Missouri’s diverse natural heritage.

The key to conserving fish, forests, and wildlife in Missouri is quality, connected habitat on both public and private land. Our work in priority geographies is a proactive measure to create this essential habitat.

Why Missouri Habitats and Species Matter

What work is underway?

Field with native grasses and wildflowers
Restored grasslands with native plants at
Schell-​​​​​Osage Conservation Area
  • Forest, woodland, and timber improvement
  • Glade and wetland restoration
  • River and stream bank stabilization
  • Cave and spring protection
  • Wildlife-friendly grazing practices and improved pollinator habitat
  • Grassland revitalization and native plant restoration
  • Other habitat and landscape improvements depending on the area and landowner needs

MDC staff and partners periodically monitor priority geographies for key species and other indicators of water, stream, and landscape health. Future work is adjusted based on these land-health checkups.

What are the benefits to landowners who participate?

Enhancing the habitat on your land can:

  • Decrease erosion and increase the health of soil and water.
  • Establish safe, reliable drinking water for livestock.
  • Provide more types of forage and season-long grazing.
  • Boost forest health and timber production.
  • Improve drought resilience.
  • Increase opportunities for recreation and wildlife viewing.
  • Enhance the aesthetics of your property and possibly increase property value.
  • Contribute to the long-term conservation of Missouri’s plants and wildlife.

Cost-share assistance may be available. MDC offers free consultations and trainings.

MDC and partner specialists will work with you to develop a plan for improving habitat on your property while giving thoughtful protection to your interests and bottom line.

For more information, contact your local private land conservationist.

By working together, MDC, partner agencies and organizations, and private landowners can make these landscapes healthier for both wildlife and people.