Traditionally, our farmers are the best stewards of the land,”  stated Bob Schroeppel, Regional Supervisor in charge of 17 counties for the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Division of Private Land Services. “It’s their mindset. Most of the landowners we work with are production farmers working primarily in cattle and grassland production.
“We may have to do a little more education with our absentee landowners, our recreational landowners, but our farmers want to take care of their land and for us, it’s good to work with farmers.”    
“Our main goal,” Schroeppel continued, “is to provide technical assistance to the landowner, listen to what they want to do with their land, and then make our recommendations. It’s all voluntary. They are under no obligation to do what we say. Still, another advantage we can offer is that while our Private Land Conservationists are the first on the scene to help in any way, they can also call in experts, like foresters, stream biologists, and others if they get into an area that calls for extra assistance.”
Bob Schroeppel supervises seven Private Land Conservationists, or PLC’s, each of which is in charge of two to three counties throughout southwest Missouri, reaching as far north as Laclede and Hickory Counties, and taking in the southwest corner of the state, south to the Arkansas line and west to Kansas.
“The Department of Conservation formed a new division in 2000 when they realized that if we are going to have a serious impact on protecting our fish, forest and wildlife resources, we have to be more focused in offering assistance to the individual landowner, since 93 percent of the land in Missouri is under private ownership. We also work with north Arkansas landowners if they also own land in southern Missouri.
“We can provide information on financial assistance to help implement some of these programs, and that can come from state or Federal programs or even non-governmental agencies like Quail Unlimited, Quail Forever or the National Wild Turkey Federation. First, we like to sit down with the landowner and determine exactly what it is they’d like to do with their land.”

Four Areas to Implement Conservation at the Farm
1.    Improve pastures to provide better gains on cattle, or increase hay production while still benefitting wildlife;
2.    Identify land that is not as productive in a true farm sense, such as glades and savannahs that don’t lend themselves to cattle production or row crops, and what can be done with them;
3.    Protect land and timber stands;
4.    Protect stream banks from erosion caused by livestock, including the planting of trees along the stream bank to help stabilize the bank, and provide habitat for wildlife.
Bob Schroeppel concluded, “Our mission is to help landowners meet their goals while helping to protect the fish, forest and wildlife resources of our state. Working together we can make that happen in Missouri.”


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