GREETINGS from Steve Hopper, Past President Missouri Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts
A couple of years ago, the Missouri Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districtsı Board of Directors authorized me to form a committee of interested agencies to determine the amount and types of natural resources conservation assistance available to Missouri landowners and operators.
The last Farm Bill emphasized total resource conservation, and our own experience with town hall-type meetings showed us that our cooperators were concerned not only with soil erosion, clean air, clean water, wildlife habitat, reforestation, etc., but with holistic environmental stewardship as well.
I found that people in the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and University of Missouri Outreach and Extension (MU-UOE) had begun compiling lists of assistance offered to Missourians. Our committee agreed to compile all the current available conservation information from the USDA-Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), USDA-Farm Service Agency (FSA), Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Missouri Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD), Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA), MDC, MU-UOE, and other related agencies and organizations offering conservation assistance. We assumed that professionals of these agencies would use this information to assist landowners with their resource concerns. In addition to the written copy, we planned to have the same information available on the Internet, which would allow the information to be consistently updated. Over time, it became known as the Missouri Conservation Assistance Guide, which today, we commonly refer to as the GUIDE.
The GUIDE was not intended to be something that the average landowner or operator would use on their own. They would still need professional assistance to put together a long range plan, fill out the forms, apply for assistance, and budget their available funds. But it would serve as a starting point for both citizens and resource professionals to locate types of assistance and their sources.
With that as our intent, we then needed a central location to receive and compile the changes and updates. Otherwise this would be a one-time shot . . . and a waste of time. Early in the development phase, we learned that the Missouri Watershed Information Network (MoWIN) was seeking information on types of assistance available for watersheds. Since every inch of Missouri is in some watershed, they also had need of such a GUIDE.
Since I felt they had a similar mission, I went to one of their meetings and suggested that they become the clearinghouse for this information. With his Boardıs permission, Joe Dillard, Past Director of MoWIN, was willing to assume this leading role. The result reflects a lot of hard work and a willingness of NRCS, FSA, DNR, MDC, SWCD, MU-UOE and MDA to provide you access to the best assistance available, so you can make decisions about managing private land in a manner that will provide a good environmental and financial return and ensure that future generations will be able to do the same.
Steve HopperProject Background