News Release 59

Dan Files named February 2010 Employee of the Month by Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Volume 38-059 (For Immediate Release)
Contact: Philip J. Tremblay
573-751-7629

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, Feb. 9, 2010 --- Dan Files, currently northern district field operations supervisor for the Division of State Parks, has been chosen as the February 2010 Employee of the Month by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Files is being recognized for his long-term efforts towards the recent acquisition of the 1,449-acre Zell Tracts at Pershing State Park. This work began while he was superintendent at the park.

The acquisition will serve to protect and expand what is termed the finest example of wet prairie remaining in northern Missouri. The 1,449 acres include a variety of habitat types that will benefit endangered species native to this landscape that are suffering from habitat loss.

The Zell family will be able to continue farming in an area outside the floodplain. Once restoration work begins and part of the levee is breached to allow water into the park, farms west of the Higgins Ditch and the conservation area downstream will be protected from future flood events.

In nominating Files for the honor, Joe Engeln, the department's assistant director for science and technology, said, "Dan brought together a diverse and talented team to develop a plan that will restore most of the property to the type of habitat that used to characterize much of the bottomlands in this part of the state. While this work will take many years, the results will be invaluable to the people of Missouri and to those who visit the area over decades to come."

Nearly 95 percent of the total purchase price came from sources other than state funds. The acquisition will make it easier for the department to construct a grade-control structure to protect the wetlands and adjoining properties and the Highway 36 bridge over Higgins Ditch.

The planning and work on this purchase has been going on for years. It has taken nearly nine months to bring the purchase to completion and final signatures will transfer the properties to the Department of Natural Resources in August.

Files served as a good neighbor to the Zell family and kept them aware of what was going on in Pershing State Park while assuring them that park management did not conflict with the enjoyment of their farm. When the family mentioned that they might consider selling, due to the accidental death of the family patriarch last year, he pulled together a team of department staff, partners and other interested agencies.

Through the process of finding another farm for the Zell's to purchase and bringing together many private and public funding sources, Files served as the main contact for the Zell family. He kept them informed of progress, calmed their fears and addressed false rumors.

The partners who helped make this acquisition possible include the Natural Resources Conservation Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of the federal government; the Missouri Department of Conservation; The Conservation Fund; Ducks Unlimited; The Doris Duke Foundation; TransCanada Pipeline Corp. and The Missouri Bird Conservancy Initiative.

Files began working for the department in May 1978 and lives in Brookfield.

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Editor: Photo is available at dnr.mo.gov/newsrel/images/files-pic-2-10.jpg.