MPF Supports Grassland Wildlife-friendly Land Use Policies and State, Regional, and National Conservation Initiatives
Landscape-scale changes to benefit native grassland wildlife can often be best achieved by supporting agricultural, energy, and other land use policies that are grassland wildlife-friendly, and by advocating for robust public conservation funding.
To this end, MPF supports strong conservation measures in the Farm Bill, is represented on the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s State Technical Committee, the State Technical Committee CRP Subcommittee, the Missouri Bird Conservation Initiative, and is a member of the Missouri Teaming With Wildlife Steering Committee.
In 1998, MPF helped formed the Grasslands Coalition, a group of grassland conservation partners working to pool expertise and resources for prairie conservation. One of the group’s first steps was to identify core areas of the state that were strongholds for state-endangered greater prairie-chickens—encompassing many of the state’s native grassland “islands”—and the best places to invest limited resources to protect and restore grassland habitat for all prairie species. These Focus Areas (FAs) contain public land owned by the Missouri departments of Conservation and Natural Resources, MPF, The Nature Conservancy, and land owned by private landowners maintained as native prairie, pasture, or cropland. All FAs together total 184,980 acres of public and private land.
Grassland Conservation Opportunity Areas
In 2005, the Missouri Department of Conservation was called upon by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to identify the best places in the state to meet the needs of wildlife, to focus conservation efforts and thus prevent the federal listing of any more plants or animals as threatened or endangered. As part of this Comprehensive Wildlife Strategy, the Department of Conservation designated grassland Conservation Opportunity Areas (COAs) as the best places in the state to conserve prairie wildlife. All COAs containing grasslands total 1,078,154 acres of public and mostly private land.
The Grasslands Coalition-designated FAs formed the basis for most of the grassland COAs, as the map shows. The COAs (in green and labeled) include the FAs (in blue), except for the Loess Hills and Southeast Sand Grassland COAs, which were designated to bolster conservation efforts of the extremely rare prairie natural communities within their boundaries.