Donating private land to the Missouri Department of Conservation helps conserve the state’s diverse natural resources while providing public opportunities to fish, hunt, hike, and explore Missouri’s beautiful outdoors. Gifting land is a Show-Me State tradition that started 82 years ago.

One prime example is The Lewis Family: Dean, Anna Mae and David D. Lewis Memorial Conservation Area, located northeast of Branson. It consists of 362 acres and was donated by David Lewis, who passed away in December 2009.

Greg Cassell, MDC resource forester, says David was passionate about preserving his family’s homestead and sharing it with future generations. It consists of upland and bottomland forest, woodland, savanna, and glades and contains several small watering holes. Bull Creek runs through the southern portion of the area and empties into Lake Taneycomo.

Jerry Redfern, who was an attorney for and longtime friend of David, says David wanted to keep the farm in place simply so others could enjoy it.

Jennifer Battson Warren, MDC deputy director–business, says the abundant generosity of folks who donate land is inspiring. “It’s wonderful to know they consider us as good stewards and want to entrust us with their properties,” she adds.

If you are interested in gifting land, call 573-751-4115.

Jennifer Battson Warren explains the program further:

What’s the overall goal of MDC’s Land Gift program?
To maximize fish, forest, and wildlife habitat conservation and increase citizen access to outdoor opportunities.

How long has MDC had this program?
Since 1937, with the establishment of the Missouri Conservation Commission.

Is MDC the only state entity through which people can gift land?
Other agencies, such as State Parks, also accept land donations.

Donating land means granting public access to visitors. Who holds insurance liability for public visits?
As a general rule, Missouri law affords MDC immunity from liability for incidents occurring on conservation areas.

Where’s the first property that was ever gifted?
Rockwoods Reservation in West St. Louis County, June 1938.

Please describe the process one goes through if interested in gifting land.
Individuals interested in donating property submit a Land Donation Information Form. The submitted form is reviewed by an MDC internal realty committee. If the property fits MDC’s land acquisition strategies, it’s reviewed by the resource management field staff who would have administrative responsibility for that land.

Does MDC ever turn down property that someone wants to gift?
Though MDC is extremely grateful for every offer of land donation, some properties don’t maximize fish, forest, and wildlife habitat conservation or increase citizen access to outdoor opportunities near where they live, and aren’t accepted.

How many pieces of property currently are in the program?
Our records list 438 tracts (76,233 acres) of land that have been donated.

Where are the smallest and largest gifts of land?
The smallest tract of donated land is 0.03 acres located in Cole County at Binder Community Lake. The largest land donation is 7,036 acres in Vernon County at August A. Busch Jr. Memorial Wetlands at Four Rivers Conservation Area.

Once land is gifted, does the state have to keep it in perpetuity?
This depends on each donation’s terms and conditions.