Newsroom Midwest Region

Midwest is fertile ground for private land conservation: Secretary Zinke joins Private Lands Partners Day

October 4, 2018

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke speaks at Private Lands Partners Day. Photo by Larry Dean/USFWS.
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke speaks at Private Lands Partners Day. Photo by Larry Dean/USFWS.

We at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have a long tradition of working with private landowners and are proud of what we’ve accomplished together in the name of conservation. We were pleased to welcome Secretary Ryan Zinke this week for Private Lands Partners Day in Springfield, Missouri. Together with Partners for Conservation, we co-hosted the 11th annual gathering of ranchers, farmers and other private landowners.

The three-day conference brings together private landowner leaders and public partners from across the country to share their personal experiences with cooperative efforts to conserve rural working landscapes for both people and nature. This was the first time this event has come to the midwest and was a great time to showcase the progress we’ve made collectively with Partners for Conservation and our other state, federal and nonprofit partners to restore habitat on private lands across the country.

"All of us share the land ethic that Aldo Leopold gave voice to, whether you work the farm or ranch or enjoy America’s rich hunting and fishing heritage. We all want to pass on that ethic to future generations. That includes passing on clean air, clean water and open spaces,” said Acting Midwest Regional Director Charlie Wooley.

In Missouri, and in communities across the country, private landowners are making a huge difference in everyone’s quality of life by dedicating their land to conservation. For more than 30 years, our Partners For Fish and Wildlife program has been building trust in communities and rallying people around the idea that by strengthening their private lands, they strengthen their communities - for people and for wildlife.

This national voluntary program got its start here in the midwest. Since 2001, our biologists have restored more than 230,000 acres of upland habitat and 110,000 acres of wetland habitat in the region and we’ve worked with thousands of private landowners. Every one of those acres represents a partnership formed and relationship built. Missouri’s abundance of wildlife and natural resources is matched only by the dedication of the people who live and work here - landowners and agency staff alike.

We can’t do this alone, and there’s no better place in the country to show the power of partnerships than the “Show Me” State of Missouri.

We work with incredible private landowners every day here, throughout the region and across the country. Landowners who ranch, farm and manage forests, all while providing important habitat that helps to keep the landscape intact and their communities sustainable.

The midwest is fertile ground for growing this partnership with Partners for Conservation, whose leaders have done incredible work around the country. From our private lands staff, to our state and federal partners with Missouri Department of Conservation, Missouri Department of Natural Resources and Natural Resources Conservation Service and on to our non-profit partners - Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, National Wild Turkey Federation, Conservation Federation of Missouri and our partners in agriculture, Missouri has a longstanding spirit of getting the job done, regardless of who gets credit. That said, it made the perfect backdrop for the conference.

We are stronger together. The great majority of land in Missouri and across the country is in private hands. Our collective efforts to conserve species in that landscape fittingly start and end with landowners.

We at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service appreciate our partners, we appreciate Partners for Conservation’s efforts for the last 10 years and the public’s support for conservation, and we invite those of you who are new to our work to join us.

Learn more about how you can get involved with our Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program.

Private Lands Partners Day participants listen and learn about some real life examples of public and private parterships during their field trip stop to hear the Dan and Mike Chiles story. Photo by Larry Dean/USFWS.
Private Lands Partners Day participants listen and learn about some real life examples of public and private parterships during their field trip stop to hear the Dan and Mike Chiles story. Photo by Larry Dean/USFWS.

David Haubein speaks with some of the Private Lands Partners Day participants visiting his land to learn about conservation ranching. Photo by Larry Dean/USFWS.
David Haubein speaks with some of the Private Lands Partners Day participants visiting his land to learn about conservation ranching. Photo by Larry Dean/USFWS.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Private Lands biologist Nick George talks to a private landowner in a forest about potential restoration efforts. Photo by Mike Budd/USFWS.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Private Lands biologist Nick George talks to a private landowner in a forest about potential restoration efforts. Photo by Mike Budd/USFWS.