A Giant Voice for Conservation

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Published on: Oct. 2, 1995

Last revision: Oct. 26, 2010

also owe a great deal to the Conservation Federation.

When the Corps of Engineers in 1939 announced plans to build 30 flood control structures on Missouri rivers, the Federation mobilized and fought tooth and nail against every dam. The battles for public support, authorizations and appropriations lasted into the late 1970s.

A few dams were built, on the White, St. Francis, Black, Osage and Salt rivers for example, but the Current, Meramec, Gasconade, Big Piney, Eleven Point and Jack's Fork, which were originally scheduled for four or five dams, still run free.

The Federation continues to fight for clean, free-flowing water. Along with the Conservation Department and the Department of Natural Resources, the Federation cosponsors the amazing Stream Team Program.

Stream Teams allow citizens and groups to "adopt" local waterways. These volunteer workers learn about streams and how to speak out in behalf of them against harmful development.

Stream Teams clean up litter, plant trees, build fish shelters, monitor for pollutants, try to raise the public's knowledge about streams and collaborate with private property owners to improve stream conditions.

"In the past few years, we've added about 200 more Stream Teams," said Deirdre Hirner, executive director the Federation since 1993. "This clearly shows that water resources are very important to Missourians and that they will work hard to protect them."

The Federation also was the impetus and remains the driving force behind Operation Game Thief and Operation Forest Arson. Both programs provide rewards for information on lawbreakers. The Conservation Department administers the programs and investigates the reports, but the Federation raises all the funds for the rewards and makes sure the payments are made.

"The Federation and the Conservation Department have a real good working relationship," Protection Division Program Supervisor Dave Beffa said. "We have nothing but good things to say about them. Simply put, Operation Game Thief wouldn't work without the Federation."

The central and only office of the Conservation Federation is in Jefferson City, the nucleus of state government.

From that office, the Federation handles administrative business, furnishes information and aid to local clubs and individual members and publishes Missouri Wildlife, a tabloid magazine. The office also prepares a newsletter and a weekly conservation legislative report that follows the status of bills before the Missouri General Assembly

Hirner meets frequently with legislators to determine where they stand on issues, to answer questions and to help them understand the ramifications of some of their laws. Until she intervened, for example,

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