Missouri Prairie Foundation’s Stilwell Prairie Open for Youth Hunting & Fishing Beginning April 2018
The Missouri Prairie Foundation has recently enrolled its Stilwell Prairie in Vernon County in the Missouri Outdoor Recreational Access Program (MRAP).

Contact: Jerod Huebner
Phone: 417-414-4700
E-mail: info@moprairie.org
Jefferson City (March 20, 2018)—The nonprofit, private Missouri Prairie Foundation has enrolled its 376-acre Stilwell Prairie property near the town of Richards into the Missouri Outdoor Recreational Access Program (MRAP), open to youth hunting and fishing beginning April 2018.

“We are very pleased to be working with the Missouri Prairie Foundation in this new endeavor for them,” said Josh Cussimanio, private land conservationist with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) who administers MRAP enrollment in Bates and Vernon counties. “Not only will young hunters and anglers have additional hunting and fishing opportunities in this part of the state, but the program will also expose more people to a beautiful, original prairie—one of our state’s rarest habitat types.” In addition, enrolling Stilwell Prairie in the program brings funding to the Missouri Prairie Foundation to assist in all of its prairie conservation work statewide. The Stilwell Prairie property includes original, unplowed prairie, wooded areas undergoing restoration to return these acres to their original grassland nature, and five farm ponds.

As part of the 2014 Farm Bill, MDC received a three-year grant for $1.1 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, through the Voluntary Public Access—Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP). In 2018, there will be 14,670 acres of private land voluntarily enrolled in MRAP, through which MDC provides annual incentive payments to private landowners who open their land for public recreational activities such as hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing. For details on the program rules and policies and a map of all MRAP locations visit https://mdc.mo.gov/property/missouri-outdoor-recreational-access-program-mrap.

There are six MRAP enrollment options from which private landowners may choose. The Missouri Prairie Foundation’s Stilwell Prairie is enrolled in the Youth Only Access hunting and fishing option, which means that youth hunters and anglers can hunt and fish on the property under statewide regulations. Stilwell Prairie will be open for foot-traffic only public access from one hour before sunrise until one hour after sunset. All activities other than the authorized access uses such as hunting, fishing, or wildlife viewing are prohibited. These banned activities include, but are not limited to, target shooting, trapping, riding motorized vehicles (snowmobiles, ATVs, motor bikes, etc.), boating, drinking alcohol, camping, lighting fireworks, horseback riding, swimming, mountain biking, and dog training. All equipment and gear must be “carry-in, carry-out” daily.

Public users will be free to access the property as they please during the open periods. While the number of people using the property will not be restricted or controlled, public users are required to self-register at the designated Stilwell Prairie entry point at the southeastern corner of the property at the junction of Indian Line and 500 Road prior to entering the property. Parking is along the shoulder west of the gate; users are asked to not block the gate.

“We welcome young hunters and farm pond-anglers, as well as hikers, bird watchers, and nature photographers of all ages to Stilwell Prairie,” said Missouri Prairie Foundation President Dale Blevins. “The original prairie on the property is a rare gem, and our assertive restoration efforts on the property are enlarging the acres of native grassland habitat for prairie plants and animals.”

A Google Earth map of Stilwell Prairie is available here. Three other Missouri Prairie Foundation properties are open to the public for hunting, which are managed in part by MDC: Gayfeather Prairie in Vernon County, and Drovers’ and Friendly Prairies in Pettis County. Hunting is not allowed at any other Missouri Prairie Foundation property except special hunting events.

Questions about Stilwell Prairie, the conservation work of the Missouri Prairie Foundation, its annual Prairie BioBlitz and other events, and how citizens can become involved in supporting the organization’s work may be directed to info@moprairie.org or 417-414-4700.