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Making Missouri Green

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Published on: Nov. 2, 1997

Last revision: Oct. 27, 2010

of the original 40-acre tract to the state.

As landowner needs have changed, the nursery has changed what it grows as well. In the early years of the nursery's operation, the Conservation Department shipped ten million shortleaf pine trees annually. From the 1950s through the 1970s, several non-native species, such as multiflora rose and autumn olive, were in demand for wildlife plantings. Most of the 40 to 50 species of trees planted today are native to Missouri.

In the late 1980s, the number of deciduous tree species the Conservation Department distributed exceeded the number of pine trees. Since fewer than half as many deciduous trees can be grown per square foot of nursery space, the State Forest nursery adjusted production to meet the consumer's demands. In 1997, the nursery produced 4.5 million seedlings composed of more than 50 species of deciduous trees. Seedlings sell for $2 to $6 a bundle, depending on the type of tree purchased. The seedlings come in bundles of 25 and are sold on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The nursery ships more than 50,000 bundles of trees each year. To meet demand, the nursery collects or buys 15,000 pounds of white oak acorns, 8,000 pounds of hazelnuts and 600 pounds of wild plum seed just to establish seedlings of those three species. In addition, over the last ten years, the Conservation Department has upgraded the nursery's irrigation system and combined grading, packing, storage and shipping into one building.

Today, 12 full-time employees and up to 50 seasonal employees operate the 780 acres at the nursery. According to Miller, in 1947, the nursery employed 12 to 15 workers in the winter and 75 workers in the summer. The nursery also brought in busloads of school children to pull weeds and count bundles.

Only four Conservation Department superintendents have supervised the nursery since 1947. They include Robert Danson, who held the position from 1947 to 1962. Danson was a worker in the CCC camp in Licking in the 1930s. Following Danson, Del Mugford managed the nursery operation from 1962 to 1981 and Bill Yoder took over in 1981. The Conservation Department named Greg Hoss the new superintendent in 1997, when Yoder became the forest nursery program manager.

Despite the numerous changes, expansions and facelifts the nursery has experienced over the last 50 years, the goal of keeping Missouri green remains the nursery's primary goal. "Technology has changed, but

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