The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) recently announced that it will receive $1.3 million in federal grant monies from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help private landowners in Missouri improve grasslands, glades, and woodlands on their properties for both wildlife habitat and agriculture production.
As the Conservation Commission approves annual expenditure plans, MDC plans to match the federal grant monies over the next five years through its existing Private Lands Services program.
The $1.3 million in federal dollars was provided through the USDA’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). The purpose of the RCPP is to further the conservation, restoration, and sustainable use of soil, water, wildlife, and related natural resources by providing cost-share and incentives to private landowners.
“The Missouri Department of Conservation has a proven track record of successfully implementing USDA conservation programs and we have brought millions in federal cost-share dollars to Missouri landowners,” said MDC Private Land Services Division Chief Bill White. “Our partnership with the USDA is a national model.”
MDC’s Private Land Services staff provides expert advice and assistance to more than 29,000 private landowners in Missouri each year to help integrate forest, fish and wildlife management with agriculture production to help landowners reach their land management goals. These services often include financial assistance through cost-share grant monies from the Department and other sources.
White explained that the cost-share grant monies will be dedicated to enhancing grasslands in northern and western Missouri for both livestock grazing and wildlife such as quail, and will include MDC Quail Focus Areas and grassland Conservation Opportunity Areas. The funds will also be focused on restoring glade and woodland habitats in the Ozarks of southeastern Missouri through cost-share funds and incentives for forest landowners.
“Quality of the land for both livestock and wildlife is one of our main concerns, and programs such as these that help us reach our goals are greatly appreciated,” said Dennis Puppe, president of the Harrison County Cattleman’s Association.
“We endorse the RCPP for glades and woodlands in southeast Missouri and offer to assist the Department of Conservation with regional outreach and education to promote healthy and sustainable woodlands,” said Jim Summers, executive director of the Missouri Forest and Woodland Association.