MISSISSIPPI COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - Starting on Oct. 1, Scott, Mississippi and New Madrid counties in southeast Missouri piloted the Missouri Department of Conservation's Missouri Outdoor Recreational Access Program, offering incentives to landowners who agree to provide public recreational access on their private land.
MDC Private Land Conservationist Tim Kavan, of Mississippi County, said the new program rewards participants on a per acre basis for existing quality habitats and will hopefully encourage landowners to create new wildlife habitat. The additional habitat could equate in higher ranking and higher payments while providing opportunity to allow others to discover nature on private land.
Financial incentives will be provided to landowners who provide public access for hunting, or wildlife viewing.
MDC is looking to enroll 1,200 acres during the first year within the pilot counties to determine if any changes are needed. The fully funded grant will allow up to 10,000 acres in Missouri to be enrolled into the program.
"This program is a great example of multiple organizations uniting to put conservation dollars to work locally," Kavan said. "With this program, private landowners also contribute to the partnership by allowing access on their property."
Contract lengths will be for one year with the potential to enroll again in subsequent years.
MRAP may provide access payments as high as $20 per acre, and there are also additional incentives available for improving or creating wildlife habitat. Once enrolled in the program, the designated tract of land will be open to the public to enjoy the land for the prescribed options.
Four public access options for landowners to choose from include wildlife viewing, small game hunting, youth hunting and fishing and all access hunting and fishing.
"This program will be a great opportunity for MDC to continue to enhance and expand outdoor recreation opportunities for adult and youth outdoor users where public access is currently limited or overused," Kavan said. "People who haven't traditionally had a place nearby to hunt, fish or enjoy wildlife viewing may have access to new opportunities closer to home once this program is in full swing."
MDC opened up enrollment in the pilot counties on Oct. 1.
Interested landowners within these counties should contact their Private Land Conservationist. To find your local contact, go to www.mdc.mo.gov and scroll to "Local Contact".
Program inquiries may also be directed to the MRAP program manager, Jeff Esely, by phone at 573-522-4115 ext. 3513 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.