OREGON COUNTY -- After the Missouri Department of Conservation was established in 1936, almost immediately future-minded citizens of the state began contributing to Missouri's natural resource heritage.
Since 1960 MDC has accepted 132 gifts of land totaling 21,866 acres with a value of $15,715,304.
MDC officials said there were also 11 "bargain sales" of land willingly sold to the department for less that fair market value. This land totaled 363,052 acres with a value of $12,840,909. Citizens have also made cash donations.
Overall, the value of gifts donated to MDC from 1960 through 2002 is $38,750,803.
Small tracts of land can be important to MDC if strategically located or if they have special features.
In 1997 Maureen and Dan Cover of Thayer deeded eight acres on the Warm Fork River near Thayer to provide a boating access. The George and Vida Martin Access is a memorial to Maureen's parents.
This is not the first gift the Covers have given to the citizens of Missouri. In 1985 they donated 282 acres in Oregon County for use by the public. Although the Covers (Dan has since passed away) were pleased to have the opportunity to donate this land and encouraged others to do the same, they said there were economic incentives involved in the donation. They used the tax break given from donating the land to buy a larger piece of land.
The 736 acres Dan and Maureen bought were closer to their home, making it possible for them to invest more time and expense converting the vegetation on the land from brush to prairie. Several years ago they donated this land to MDC so their efforts will be continued.
Dan Cover was always fascinated with hawks, his wife said. The Dan and Maureen Cover Prairie Conservation Area is managed primarily to provide falconers a place to hunt and train hawks. Special regulations provide falconers the first opportunity to hunt quail and small game in the fall before the area opens to the public.