Bryce and Brad Evans
Evans Family Farms
Concordia, Missouri

Bryce and Brad Evans purchased 1,450 acres of bottomland in Missouri in 1991, with dreams of developing a top-notch row crop farm. The Missouri River shattered those dreams after flooding in 1993, leaving behind a landscape scarred by deep scour holes and covered by hundreds of acres of sand. Unwilling to give up, the brothers made a decision to manage the land for wildlife and enrolled it in the Emergency Wetland Reserve Program. In 1995, the river again reclaimed the land, destroying more than one-quarter of a million newly planted tree seedlings. The brothers replanted, but in 1996 the river rose once more. At that point they made a decision to manage the land as nature would. They became committed to restoring the once healthy riparian habitat, and they envisioned a return to land as fertile and healthy as when Lewis and Clark first saw it 200 years ago. They are currently working to develop wildlife habitat on more than 11,000 acres of bottomlands and more than 4,000 acres of uplands.

During their early restoration efforts, the Evans brothers began to gain a deeper understanding of the delicate balance between humans and nature and of the relationship between wildlife and land use. Following their strong belief in total ecosystem management, the brothers are managing their lands for all wildlife, rather than just a few species. Their management plans include creating, preserving, and enhancing wildlife habitat for game and non-game species, and for designating refuge areas each year for game animals as well as all other wildlife species. The Evans brothers also focus their energies on educating others-they firmly believe that education, habitat development, total ecosystem management, and best management practices are the key to the future survival of healthy wildlife populations.

— Kelly Hiesberger, Grant Tech Consulting and Conservation Services, Meriden, Kansas