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Rural Lands Offering Hidden Value

Filed Under:
December 4, 2018

Host: Daryl Jones, Wildlife Specialist

Recording: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Amy Myers: Today we're talking about rural lands offering hidden value. Hello, I'm Amy Myers, and welcome to Farm and Family. Today we're speaking with Dr. Daryl Jones, Mississippi State University Extension Wildlife Specialist. Daryl, when we think of maximizing the value of our rural land, we often think of bringing in industrial development or a housing development. However, there are many options for keeping our land rural to maintain it or even increase the value of it, correct?

Daryl Jones: That's correct, Amy. In rural Mississippi, lands that are rural in timber production, let's say, or in agricultural use, are just in wildlife covers with forest and fields. This land is of value. What we did with a study is look at the value that wildlife-related recreation, so for hunting, getting outside and walking, riding bicycles outside, looking at wildlife, fishing and ponds, people that want to do that are looking for properties to do it on.

Amy Myers: A lot of people don't want to go to public land. They want to own their own land.

Daryl Jones: That's right.

Amy Myers: And also, you can even hold events and things like that. Those are getting more popular too. Tell me more about the information that you found from this study or survey done on the 800 rural properties in Mississippi.

Daryl Jones: Yes, an exciting piece of work, I think. The study was related to working with the Federal Land Bank system and Mossy Oak Properties in the state of Mississippi. We looked at the loan portfolios of the Federal Land Bank system when they were booking loans for people to buy rural lands, so they filled out surveys related to that information. We asked things like what are the land uses of the properties that are being purchased in the state, what recreational activities that are going on, hunting, fishing, outdoor recreation, important land types, forested cover, agricultural fields, fallow fields. We asked the bankers to tell us what of those land covers that were on these properties that were sold.  And then the location in the state and also amenities on the property, so if it had a cabin or a lodge or a house, whether there were roads already on the property. If I don't have to build roads on my piece of property, that adds a lot of value. So we asked about that information, and we had 800 properties in the state that we analyzed this information on. The punchline of it, Amy, was that outdoor-related, wildlife-related recreation hunting, fishing, outdoor recreation added about a third of the value of Mississippi rural acres of land. That's quite a bit.

Amy Myers: So, even if we aren't hunters or fishers, we can still definitely enjoy a healthy ecosystem that is provided by these rural lands that attract certain kinds of wildlife.

Daryl Jones: You bet, Amy. One of the things, and back on the study what we found, there were some predictors of that rural land value that I mentioned, particularly lands in hardwood forests were a main driver of that value, so the bottom land hardwoods around creeks and streams where you've got mature hardwoods. And then what we have a lot in the state as well, mixed pine hardwood forests, good habitat for wildlife, so wildlife depend on the hard mass and what's called soft mass, berries and droops and fruits that are produced by hardwood forests. Good for game and non-game like wild turkey, squirrel species, the fox and gray squirrel, white-tailed deer, waterfowl. Also bats. Bats are very good. When you and I are sitting on the porch and mosquitoes are bothering us, bat species will eat thousands of mosquitoes in a night's feeding, so it's good to have these natural forests, natural land covers that increase wildlife, that then benefit us. You have clean air, clean water from those sites, and then beautiful vistas for landowners and people to view.

Amy Myers: For more information, we can go to and speak with someone with Mississippi State University Extension, right?

Daryl Jones: We have workshops all over the state. We talk about these types of issues and topics and help you with your land management decisions.

Amy Myers: Today we've been speaking with Daryl Jones, Mississippi State University Extension Wildlife Specialist. I'm Amy Myers, and this has been Farm and Family. Have a great day.

Recording: Farm and family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

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