Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Conservation training available to landowers

By Jim Low

Helping private contractors increase their effectiveness in managing land for wildlife is the focus of a workshop series at locations around Missouri this spring.

The workshops are a cooperative effort of the Missouri Department of Conservation, the Missouri Small Business and Technology Development Centers and the Missouri Agribusiness Association (MO-AG). Building on the success of previous Contractor workshops, the 2009 program offers training – including field work – on an expanded range of topics.

Workshop dates and topics include:

Feb. 18 in Rolla – Small business development and grassland establishment and management.

Feb. 25 at University Forest near Poplar BluffForest management.

March 3 in Hannibal – Small business development and gassland establishment and management.

March 5 in Columbia – Small business development and grassland establishment and management.

March 10 in Warrensburg -- Prescribed burning, tree planting and wetland management.

March 26 in Warrenton – Small business development and forest management.

April 15 in Chillicothe – Prescribed burning, tree planting and wetland management.

June 10 in Macon – Wetland management.

July 28 in St. Louis -- Prescribed burning, tree planting and wetland management.

August 25 in Park Hills – Small business development and Grassland establishment and management.

September 15 in West Plains – Open-land management.

October 28 in St. Joseph – Prescribed burning, tree planting, wetland management.

December 2-3 in West Plains – Prescribed burning.

Brad McCord is the Conservation Department's conservation contractor training coordinator. He said that program is not intended to produce professional field biologists. Rather, it is aimed at giving private agricultural contractors enough familiarity with wildlife management terminology and practices to enable them to deliver services to clients and help them take advantage of state and federal programs that make conservation practices affordable to implement.

"Missouri landowners have a long history of wanting to improve their land for nature,” said McCord. “State and federal conservation programs provide incentives and cost- share programs to help, but many landowners just don’t have the necessary equipment and experience. These workshops are intended to fill that need.”

As an example, McCord noted workshops that train contractors to establish native grass and wildflower plantings and maintain them safely with prescribed burns. He said other workshops will focus on forest management practices that benefit wildlife while promoting healthier forests and producing income for the landowner.

“We want these workshops to link landowner’s desires for wildlife management with well-qualified and equipped contractors," McCord said.

Pre-registration is required. For more information call 573-636‑6130 or 573-751‑4115.

Each session includes instruction on how to best implement various wildlife management techniques on private land. The programs are for businesses that deliver services to private landowners or individuals who want to establish conservation contracting businesses.

Participants receive instructional materials for each portion of the series. This year’s workshops include information from the Missouri Small Business and Technology Development Centers about developing and running small businesses.

“For existing businesses working with private landowners, the small-business advice and counseling can make the difference between being successful or not,” said McCord.

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