The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) recently signed an agreement with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to provide support for a staff of biologists, private land conservationists and wetland specialists to help deliver specialized fish, forest, wildlife and wetland resource conservation planning and other assistance to Missouri landowners.

The new agreement is a five-year extension of a partnership that goes back several decades. 

“The agreement we have with MDC is our primary source for providing fish, forest and wildlife resource conservation assistance to private landowners in Missouri,” said NRCS Missouri State Conservationist JR Flores.

“We are proud to have one of the longest-running partnerships of any state fish and wildlife agency in the country with NRCS,” said MDC Director Sara Parker Pauley. “This agreement signifies our mutual desire to continue our efforts to the benefit of Missouri landowners and the natural resources of this great state. We each recognize that neither agency can do this alone. We must work together to serve the objectives of private landowners.”

MDC staffs an area biologist and a wetland biologist in each of the four NRCS area offices. The numerous private land conservationists are located in various NRCS field offices throughout the state. MDC staff have access to NRCS equipment, tools and government vehicles. Job responsibilities include:

• Area biologists assist NRCS staff with utilizing wildlife and forestry conservation practices to help private landowners reach their land management objectives and provide training and input on wildlife conservation practice standards to NRCS staff.

• Wetland biologists are included as members of the NRCS Wetland Emphasis Teams and assist with wetland restoration, enhancement, design and management of Wetland Reserve Easements. They also help with easement applications and monitoring, and work directly with landowners providing guidance in the management of wetland habitats.

• Private land conservationists include an array of specialists in forestry, fisheries, wildlife, plants and wetlands who provide technical assistance to private landowners in the development of wildlife management plans. They help landowners plan management activities such as prescribed burn plans, native seeding plans, timber stand improvement, forest management plan and more.

“This partnership serves the interest of both parties in facilitating the design, planning and certification of planned conservation practices that are funded through the Farm Bill Conservation Programs,” said Flores.

The budget for the initial year of the five-year agreement is $840,000, with each agency obligating approximately $420,000.