Missouri hunters, fishermen and wildlife watchers will soon gain access to thousands of acres of new land.
The state Department of Conservation tried a program in 2015, offering landowners in Macon and Shelby counties in northeast Missouri compensation to open their land to public recreation. Now the department is poised to expand the Missouri Outdoor Recreational Access Program statewide.
Through the program, landowners who volunteer to participate are offered four options: all-access hunting and fishing; small-game hunting only; youth-only hunting and fishing; and wildlife viewing only.
The land must meet minimum wildlife-habitat requirements, and extra incentives are paid to landowners who agree to use new habitat-management practices. For land to be considered for the program, it needs to be at least 40 contiguous acres in size and must already have a minimum amount of good wildlife habitat. For example, with tracts of fewer than 100 acres, at least 20 percent of the land must be in good habitat.
Most landowners will receive $15 to $25 per acre. Hunters, fishermen and wildlife watchers will gain new public access in land that once had been off-limits.
As in most access programs, the land will be open on a walk-in basis only. Vehicles are to be parked along roads.
Landowners interested in participating should contact the department’s local private-land conservationists. They can be found under the “Local contact” section on the department’s website, mdc.mo.gov.