MDC expands program providing outdoor recreation on private lands
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is accepting applications through Nov. 13 for the Missouri Outdoor Recreational Access Program (MRAP). The MRAP program provides incentive payments and habitat improvement help to private landowners who open their properties to the public for walk-in hunting, fishing, or wildlife viewing.
The recreation allowed on each property varies according to the public access option selected by the participating landowner. MRAP access types include all access hunting and fishing, small game and turkey hunting, youth only hunting and fishing, archery hunting, fishing only, or wildlife viewing.
Offered lands must meet eligibility requirements such as being at least 40 contiguous acres or at least a one-acre pond for fishing access. Wildlife viewing properties must be at least five contiguous acres and located within highly-populated counties. Land must also contain minimum amounts of quality wildlife habitat such as native grass fields, crop-field buffers, restored wetlands, or managed woodlands.
“MRAP currently has more than 50 properties enrolled in the program, representing over 13,000 acres of wildlife habitat available to the public,” said MDC Community and Private Land Conservation Branch Chief Bill White. “We work with each landowner to determine what activities are best suited for their property, and base acceptance in the program on certain criteria, such as property size, the amount of quality habitat present, and the proximity to major metro areas, public lands, and priority geographies for the department.”
Expansion of MRAP is possible through a new grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. MDC has received $2.2 million in funding this year, double the previous grant that allowed current MRAP properties to enroll.
“MRAP provides new opportunities for the public to enjoy the outdoors, while also helping to increase and enhance wildlife habitat for small game and other species on private lands,” said White. “This valuable partnership will allow us to expand the program and enhance quality conservation practices and outdoor recreation in Missouri.”
The standard commitment period to participate in the program is three years. Annual payment rates are determined by factors such as the access type selected by the landowner and the amount of quality habitat available. Most landowners can typically expect to earn $15-$25 an acre, per year. Landowners interested in boosting their annual payment can implement habitat improvements on their land.
To find out more on how to apply to the MRAP program, visit short.mdc.mo.gov/Zcs. Contact your local MDC private land conservationist (mdc.mo.gov/regional-contacts?county=All) or Quail Forever farm bill biologist (missouripfqf.org/field-staff) to sign up.
For members of the public interested in accessing MRAP properties, maps, instructions, and other details are available at nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/places/mrap. Users must respect all boundaries, follow regulations, minimize disturbance of natural resources, and be respectful of other visitors.