I realized long ago that conservation work is a multi-generational commitment. Still, some time periods contain a bit more excitement than others. My first six months as director - on reflection - convinces me we are in one of those exciting periods! Point-of-sale, deer tag mess-ups, lead mining controversy, legislative budget concerns, United Nations takeover paranoia and Department reorganization all have emerged as more than just passing concern in the first half of 1997.
These topics have not dampened my enthusiasm for Missouri conservation work. In fact, the way they have been handled causes me to feel very positive about the future. Missourians have shown me - by their command and action on these topics - the true passion they have for conservation and the high standards they expect from their Conservation Department. This passion and concern is healthy and is the basis for good results and improvements.
Public input and the willingness of the Conservation Department and others to listen and act have resulted in some significant changes that should bring smiles to most Missouri conservationists. Sometime in 1998 major changes will come on line involving the issuance of deer and turkey tags and field tagging and checking procedures. The lead mining companies withdrew their requests for exploratory drilling on Department of Conservation lands, and the Legislature approved a lump sum budget approach for
Fiscal Year 1998. Even the flap over the United Nations biosphere movement and takeover of Missouri lands seems to have receded after reflection brought on at least in part by our Department's command on the issue.
Department reorganization is also going well and gaining broad acceptance. Regional operating designations complete with common boundaries and offices is the latest element approved by the Commission. This is an extremely important step in eliminating existing public inconvenience caused by different divisional operating boundaries. Now a visit to any regional designated office will put you in contact with all major elements of our programs. Equally important is my hope - and direction - that our personnel take a broader work view toward our Department responsibilities rather than only their specialty. Good conservation demands a broad view and excellent team work to get the best return on our investment of money and energy.
I end this column with a salute to now former Commissioner John Powell as he leaves the Commission. Thanks, John, for the dedication and energy you put into your appointment over the past 12 years and the time you spent away from your family and businesses on behalf of Missouri conservation. You are an individual who drew strong reactions to your initiatives. It's obvious to us who worked with you that your passion for conservation runs deep.
Many of your actions have moved toward the positive side of the slate, the outcome of numerous important issues that affect all Missourians. You never accepted benign neglect as an answer to a nature in most cases badly altered. That brought you criticism but brought our Department toward a better hands-on approach to habitat management.
Thanks for the personal support you gave me and may your future be filled with straight trees, tall drinks, good water under your canoe and an occasional good quail shot behind your beloved dogs!
Jerry M. Conley