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MDC approves conservation area expansions


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) Conservation Commission approved the acquisition of additional land for two of its preservation areas.

The commission approved the purchase of 510.7 acres in St. Clair County as an addition to the Linscomb Conservation Area. The property is part of one of the MDC’s two grassland priority geographies, according to Jennifer Battson Warren, chair of the MDC Realty Committee, who presented the purchase to commissioners during Thursday’s agenda meeting.

“The property being proposed for acquisition retains about 350 acres of one of Missouri’s most imperiled habitats, tallgrass prairie,” Warren said, noting that the purchase was supported by conservation partner organizations Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever, and the Missouri Praire Foundation due to the possibility of restoring imperiled habitats.

The area, formerly known as the Winding River Ranch, was donated to the MDC in 1998 by the NeVada P. Linscomb Trust and currently consists of 1,873.9 acres. The total cost of the acquisition will be covered by cash donations from memorial foundations set up to support prairie land conservation, according to Warren.

The commission also accepted the donation of 120 acres in Shannon County as an expansion to the Angeline Conservation Area, which is home to springs, a shooting range, and hiking trails and is currently 39,582 acres.

The commission has acquired almost 800,000 acres of land since Amendment 4 to the Missouri Constitution gave it the authority to do so in 1936, according to Warren. Thursday’s land acquisitions were approved as part of the MDC’s 2018 Land Conservation Strategy, which focused on the expansion of conservation land and the protection of certain endangered geographies, including tallgrass prairies.

The commission also held an election of commission officers. Don Bedell was nominated to continue in his position as chair of the committee, which the other members approved. Bedell is a businessman, having founded and run a number of healthcare and nursing home management businesses, accordion to the department. He has served on the commission since his appointment by Gov. Jay Nixon in 2009.

William Orscheln, CEO of Orscheln Industries, was approved as vice-chair. Mark McHenry, former director of the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department, was approved as secretary.

The next commission meeting is scheduled for Sept. 3.