October 13, 2005

Conservation Department ‘Sharing the Harvest’ With Scotland County

Mention the conservation department and most folks in Scotland County will immediately think hunting or fishing. But what most locals are not aware of is the valuable partnership the Missouri Department of Conservation plays with Scotland County and the 113 other counties in the state.

“The Missouri Conservation Department and counties across our state have a strong history of working together for the betterment of citizens,” said MDC Director John Hoskins. “As the department strives to fulfill its citizen created constitutional mandate of protecting and managing the forest, fish and wildlife resources, county governments remain a valued partner.”

Of the more than 280,000 acres in Scotland County, the conservation department holds nearly 3,813 acres in public trust, mainly in the form of the Indian Hills Conservation Area near Bible Grove.

While that total may not seem like that much, it does represent a possible loss in tax revenue, as state ground is exempt from local property taxes. But in 1980, voters authorized MDC revenue to be used to pay counties in lieu of taxes. Last year MDC paid Scotland County $6,598.85 in lieu of taxes.

The conservation department also provides cost sharing for the county’s rock program for use in maintaining the roads adjacent to MDC grounds. The program not only insures adequate public access to the conservation areas but also guarantees that above average public traffic doesn’t degrade road conditions for neighboring property owners.

MDC aid is also available to area fire departments who receive funding as part of mutual aid agreements. Volunteer fire departments can receive 50/50 matching grants for up to $3,000 in state funds for equipping and training the firemen. Currently there are more than 900 volunteer departments working with MDC including the Scotland County, Rutledge and Gorin departments locally.

In addition to the funding, the conservation department also works to acquire federal excess personal property to be loaned to the fire departments. Equipment currently on loan to the three local departments includes a two-ton tanker truck, a 4x4 pickup, a ¾ ton trailer, gasoline generators and a portable flood light system.

“Together, over the years, we have identified needs and developed services for both rural and urban citizens in every county in our state,” Hoskins said. “The results of working together with county governments clearly show we are making a positive difference for Missouri citizens and for forest, fish and wildlife resources.”

Another positive difference can be seen in the Community Assistance Program. The CAP, which started in 1980, allows the MDC to help provide close-to-home fishing opportunities. These 25-year agreements between MDC and waterway owners allows the conservation department power to manage fisheries at the streams, ponds and lakes to cooperatively develop and maintain facilities for fishing and boating. The City of Memphis maintains a CAP agreement with MDC to manage Lake Show Me.

Across the state MDC currently maintains CAP agreements with 106 cooperative partnerships on 139 public lakes (9,090 acres of water), 42 stream access areas and three lake access areas.

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