Stories in Missouri

2019 Missouri Conservation Wins

With your support, we worked across the state this year to make meaningful change.

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Thank you for your dedication to The Nature Conservancy and our work. With support from donors like you, we have achieved many conservation wins this year.

We have expanded our sustainable agriculture strategy with the launch of our first sustainable grazing demonstration farm in Missouri. We have released new studies and scientific tools that are informing when, how and where we can make the biggest impact. We have advocated with our members, trustees, partners, and staff to bring policy that benefits both people and nature. And we couldn’t have done any of this without you.

Please enjoy these 2019 conservation wins made possible by your investment in us. 

Underground cistern at Jubilee Community Church in St. Louis.
Project Oasis Underground cistern at Jubilee Community Church in St. Louis. © Jubilee Community Church

We're growing partnerships to help bring nature to our cities

Collaborating with partners and anchor institutions is bringing change to St. Louis neighborhoods. Thanks, in part, to support from Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation, we’re working with Jubilee Community Church to build a concept that will do more than just bring fresh produce to the community. Project Oasis will reduce stormwater flooding into the Mississippi River while providing a community garden, creating employment opportunities and serving as a demonstration site for other local communities.

The first step of Project Oasis was the installation of a 150,000-gallon underground cistern that collects rainwater from the church’s roof, which then irrigates the half-acre urban orchard and garden that were planted behind the church. Collecting the rainwater does more than just irrigate the garden—it reduces stormwater runoff and pressure on the sewer system, which ultimately leads to a healthier Mississippi River in Missouri and all the way to the Gulf. 

With your help, we were able to support this project and the community-driven transformation it can inspire.

Stormwater is a big issue in the city of St. Louis. We wanted to reduce the pressure on the sewer system and capture rainwater as a resource to reuse in our garden.

Jubilee Community Church
Partners visit to view a newly constructed streambank on the Elk River.
Elk River Project Partners visit to view a newly constructed streambank on the Elk River. © Kristy Stoyer/TNC

We showcased nature as a solution

Nature offers a powerful set of tools for addressing environmental threats like flooding and erosion. Nature-based solutions use natural systems, mimic natural processes, and work in tandem with traditional approaches to address these specific hazards.

TNC recently received a grant from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to implement nature-based solutions in the Shoal Creek watershed in southwest Missouri. Working with landowners, we are identifying potential locations for projects and providing cost-share for best management practices including streambank stabilization, re-establishment of trees/grasses and fencing for cattle exclusion and alternative water systems.

Besides preventing valuable farmland from eroding away, healthy vegetated buffers next to streams reduce sediment and nutrient pollutants from entering waterways while also serving to improve aquatic habitat and restore aquatic communities. 

Restored streambank along the Huzzah Creek
Huzzah Creek Restored streambank along the Huzzah Creek © Steve Herrington/TNC

This year also produced a successful project in the Huzzah Creek watershed, located approximately 100 miles southwest of St. Louis. Similar to our previous stream restoration projects on LaBarque Creek and along the Elk River, this project used bioengineering techniques to secure nearly 2,000 feet of eroding streambank that was being lost to the creek. Now stabilized, the land is secure, and the new streambank is providing critical habitat for fish and wildlife. 

Staff conducting a controlled burn on Goodnight-Henry preserve.
Goodnight-Henry Staff conducting a controlled burn on Goodnight-Henry preserve. © Tom Fielden/TNC

For over 30 years, The Nature Conservancy in Missouri has been using controlled burns to keep our forests and grasslands healthy—and this year was no different. Our burn crew was able to burn over 3,900 acres, including TNC property and partner assistance burns.

Fire plays an important role in the health of many habitats—without fire, many plant and animal species would disappear. Beyond the ecological benefits of controlled burns, they can also enhance community safety by reducing the buildup of dead wood and other debris that can contribute to unnaturally intense wildfires. 

We were advocates for nature on Capitol Hill

December 20th, 2018 was a big day as the Farm Bill was signed into law. This was a momentous achievement for the conservation of private lands in the United States, supporting and funding policies that will help farmers, ranchers and forest owners become more sustainable and productive, while at the same time protecting lands and waters for the benefit of all.

On February 12, 2019 the U.S. Senate made history by permanently reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).  By an extraordinary, bipartisan vote of 92 - 8, the Senate voted in favor of a public lands package that included permanent LWCF reauthorization and other wins for conservation, including provisions to protect thousands of acres of wilderness and support endangered species’ recovery in the Colorado River.

Thanks to these lawmakers and the incredible advocacy by our trustees, members, staff and partners, the Senate made getting this package done one of its top priorities for the year.

Advocacy on state and federal policy is a critical part of our strategy and to our conservation goals. In 2019, staff and trustees held over 22 in-person meetings with state and federal legislators and have hosted multiple in-the-field meetings with representatives as well. 

Ryan Cox stand with his cattle on Little Creek Farm.
Little Creek Farm Ryan Cox stand with his cattle on Little Creek Farm. © Kristy Stoyer/TNC

We're demonstrating farms of the future

Your support is helping us demonstrate what farming in 2020 and beyond should look like to ensure that we are implementing practices that benefit both people and nature.

This year we welcomed Ryan Cox and his cattle to our Little Creek Farm property. Working with Ryan and other private, state and federal partners, we began testing strategies and putting sustainable grazing practices into action. Cattle are the third-largest agriculture commodity in Missouri and over 66% of the state is farmland, so we see the opportunity to make a meaningful impact with a number of benefits to wildlife and farmers.  

We are testing sustainable techniques that will look to increase cattle production and the farmer’s bottom line, while also providing benefits to nature.

Director of Conservation Programs, TNC in Missouri

We're working with diverse groups for people and nature

It was a big year for our partnership with Green The Church—an initiative designed to tap into the power and purpose of the African American church community, and to explore and expand the role of churches as centers for environmental and economic resilience. They hosted their 2019 Green The Church summit in St. Louis, which TNC was proud to sponsor.

From the summit came the first-ever Growing Green Solutions Seed Funding Program. Thanks to your support, this TNC funded program is intentionally designed to promote sustainable practices and build power for change to address environmental issues of concern in partnership with the St. Louis faith-based community.

The Growing Green Solutions program was co-created in partnership with Green The Church and will provide up to $5,000 of seed funding for 10 community-based projects. Funding will be allocated to communities that are disproportionately affected by environmental injustices in the St. Louis region as a way to increase sustainable practices.

Greater Prairie Chickens on Dunn Ranch Prairie.
Greater Prairie Chicken Greater Prairie Chickens on Dunn Ranch Prairie. © Danny Brown

We're growing partnerships

The strong partnerships that TNC has established over the years have set us apart and made our mission even more scalable and effective. By coordinating efforts, we are able to work more effectively within our state, our region and well beyond—increasing the impact of your investments in TNC and our work.

Our partnership with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) continues to grow and benefit our shared conservation goals and the people of Missouri.

This year we were grateful to be awarded a multi-year grant from MDC’s Wildlife Diversity Fund to increase sustainable grazing practices and improve grassland habitat across the Osage Plains and Grand River Grasslands.

In addition to funding prairie management at Dunn Ranch Prairie and Wah’Kon-Tah Prairie, we will be collaborating with MDC on a shared position to improve the management and conservation of prairies and grazing lands in Missouri’s Osage Plains Ecoregion while helping implement Missouri’s sustainable agriculture strategy through engagement with landowners and producers across the landscape.

Open woodland forest habitat at Chilton Creek
Chilton Creek Open woodland forest habitat at Chilton Creek © Byron Jorjorian

We continued to protect land

Through the dedicated support of our donors like you, we have protected nearly 150,000 acres in Missouri since we began in 1956. From the ecologically rich Ozarks – home to many species found nowhere else on earth—to the rolling hills of the Grand River Grasslands and the restoration of the tallgrass prairie, your support is the reason we are able to accomplish what we do. These protected places provide habitat and a refuge to wildlife and help us protect Missouri’s biodiversity.

For nearly 10 years, TNC has leveraged a generous donation to create the Ozarks Conservation Buyer Fund. With this program in place, when a property of conservation concern becomes available, we can take advantage of these readily available funds to purchase it. We then put it back on the market with a conservation easement, which is a legal land protection agreement that will transfer with all future sales of the property.

Since the launch of this fund, we have been able to turn the initial $2-million gift into nearly $7-million of land acquisitions and conservation easements in the Ozarks.

This year, we added 320 acres of forested land in the Current River watershed to that number. This property was sold to a private owner with a permanent conservation easement in place ensuring sustainable forest management within the watershed, while returning funds to TNC for future protection projects.

Night photograph of the Spearville Wind Farm just north of the town of Spearville, in Ford County, Kansas
Spearville Wind Farm, Kansas Night photograph of the Spearville Wind Farm just north of the town of Spearville, in Ford County, Kansas © Jim Richardson

We're planning for the future while protecting the present

Achieving the wind energy development necessary to meet our climate goals will require quadrupling current wind capacity in the United States by 2050. Much of this new wind development is likely to occur right here in the Great Plains, home to some of the nation’s most promising wind resources.

To help accelerate the deployment of wind energy in a way that helps people and nature thrive, The Nature Conservancy released the award-winning Site Wind Right tool in 2019. 

This interactive online map uses GIS technology and pulls from more than 100 data sets on wind resources, wildlife habitat, current land use and infrastructure to help inform siting decisions across 17 states in the Central United States.

By using Site Wind Right early in the process, developers, utilities, power-purchasers and agencies can help save time and money by highlighting areas with the lowest potential for conflict. 

We're using science to lessen the impacts of flooding

In November of 2019, TNC released the new online, interactive Floodplain Prioritization Tool to help identify opportunities for floodplain restoration or protection in the Mississippi River Basin.

This science-based tool is designed to help decision-makers—like federal, state and local governments, county planners, land trusts and businesses—optimize their protection and restoration investments and minimize the impacts of development.

In Missouri, the tool is helping inform a collaborative floodplain management plan for Missouri’s Lower Meramec River, which regularly floods. The plan is being guided by an integrated, multi-disciplinary planning process through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Silver Jackets program.

At the Meramec, TNC Missouri staff and our partners have created a pilot, local-scale version of the tool that demonstrates the potential to adapt the basin-scale version to local partnerships and local floodplain management projects. 

Meetings to demonstrate this tool to local officials and planners is being planned for January and February. 

Visitors stop for a photo at Prairie Days at Dunn Ranch Prairie
Prairie Days Visitors stop for a photo at Prairie Days at Dunn Ranch Prairie © Kristy Stoyer/TNC

We couldn't do it without you

We thank you for supporting us in our mission and all the work you make possible. You are helping move conservation in such amazing ways.

  • Missouri Impact Fall 2019

    2019 Missouri Action and Impact

    See how our work is impacting the people and wildlife that call Missouri home.