This summary of the Annual Report is a snapshot of the Conservation Department's financial transactions and year long accomplishments from July 1, 1997, through June 30, 1998. The Conservation Department made $646,529 in payments to Missouri counties in lieu of taxes, and also paid $314,769.85 for land in the Forest Cropland Program.
Awarded more than $75,000 in grants to help 21 elementary, middle and high schools around the state develop outdoor classrooms. The grants, which ranged from $300 to $5,000 per school, were offered through the Show-Me Conservation Outdoor Classroom Grants Program. Purpose of the program is to encourage schools to develop and maintain outdoor learning sites on school grounds or at nearby locations to improve hands-on teaching and learning.
Bought Columbia Bottom Conservation Area in St. Charles County. The agency sought to buy this 4,468 acres of land at the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers from the City of St. Louis for several years, and finally reached an agreement with the city to buy the tract for $9.3 million. Work has begun to transform the area into a thriving home for wildlife, and Columbia Bottom will be developed for a variety of outdoor recreation.
Engaged in a partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The goal is providing one-stop shopping that will allow landowners to get a wide range of conservation-related services from one office near them. The NRCS has several important programs to help landowners, and since the Conservation Department has a wealth of forest, fish and wildlife management talent, the two agencies are pooling their resources.
Continued to work toward the goal of making all of the Conservation Department's public documents, often requested by mail, available via computer. The Conservation Department's best known product, the Missouri
Conservationist magazine, as well as a wealth of other publications, are available at the web site. Information on books, videos and radio and television shows also is included.
In addition to lengthening deer season, added a special January season and increased the number of bonus permits available to hunters to encourage a higher harvest of deer. Held 54 special deer hunts that allowed hunters to pursue deer outside of regular hunting seasons. Up to 30,000 hunters apply each year, and about one-third are selected by random computer drawing for a hunt. The hunts control deer populations while creating more hunting opportunities.
Saw the creation of the independent Conservation Heritage Foundation, a non-profit organization with the goal of supporting fish, wildlife and forestry conservation programs in Missouri. Groups or individuals donating to the Foundation can designate specific programs they want to see funded.
Established Stream Team number 1,000. Over 20,000 stream conservationists now channel thousands of hours of volunteer effort into stream cleanup, water quality monitoring and other projects. Stream Teams choose and coordinate their own activities according to their own preferences and timetables.
Established an exotic plant policy that commits the Conservation Department to using only plants indigenous to Missouri on land it owns, leases or manages. The purpose of the policy is to stop aggressive exotic or non-indigenous plants from displacing native flora.
Scheduled four Eagle Day events designed to enable visitors to see the birds in their natural habitat. In recent winters, as many as 2,600 eagles have been counted in Missouri. Eagle Day events include videos and live demonstrations of captive eagles.
Established a new forest management policy designed to ensure recreation, forest products and stewardship of the state's forest-based resources into the 21st century. The policy gives Missourians a picture of how forests are used on conservation areas. Most lands (83 percent) are open to a variety of uses, with 10 percent of those set aside for old-forest growth and not available for timber harvest. Most rural forest lands fall within this category.
Joined the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the Conservation Federation of Missouri in recognizing 13 volunteer water quality monitors. The award recipients began projects from discovering and reporting sewage leaks to teaching school students about the importance of good water quality and petitioning state lawmakers to address water quality issues.
Joined the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in buying flood damaged lands along the Missouri River. These purchases will lessen the severity of future floods, provide wildlife habitat and areas for outdoor recreation such as fishing and hunting.
Participated in a research effort to evaluate the traps that are used for the majority of the furbearer species in the U.S. The goal is to find the most humane, effective and safest traps, and to produce guidelines for trappers to follow in pursuit of wildlife.
Developed a program to evaluate the capabilities of rural fire departments. The Conservation Department gives each county a report outlining the problems and equipment needs of its fire departments, possible solutions and fund raising ideas to address those needs. Better protection from fire and lower insurance rates are among the goals of the program.
Extended spring turkey season from 14 to 21 days for the first time since modern seasons have been held. Missouri's turkey flock has grown from about 2,500 birds in 1952 to a conservative estimate of 600,000 today.
Estimated that turkey hunters boost the state economy by more than $35 million annually. Turkey hunting related expenses generate nearly $l.5 million in state sales taxes and about $1 million in state income taxes. Those expenditures also support 1,100 jobs statewide.
Conservation Department programs foster a healthy and growing forest resource. Examples are growing and distributing tree and shrub seedlings for public and private land, assisting private forest landowners and Missouri communities, managing 442,667 acres of public forest land, developing the state's forest industry and conducting research on trees and forests.
Conservation Department programs ensure wildlife populations that are in harmony with habitat and human enjoyment. Examples are management of about 492,000 acres of public land and assistance to private landowners, research and population monitoring of game and non-game species, wetland development, wildlife restoration and wildlife damage control. Provided wildlife habitat improvement through 2,849 contacts with private landowners.
Maintains the aquatic resources enjoyed by 1.35 million Missouri anglers. Examples are spawning, rearing and stocking over 5 million fish, including 1.8 million catchable-size trout, fisheries management of over 800 public impoundments totalling 276,652 acres of water, assistance and incentives for landowners, fish kill investigations, research and monitoring of fish populations, and stream stewardship programs.
Many Conservation Department programs relate to non-game resources and interpretation. Examples are interpretive programs conducted by nature centers and other naturalists' efforts, monitoring populations of nongame species, conducting research, identifying and protecting rare, endangered or fragile species and natural communities.
Paid for law enforcement, resource management, information, education and public service contact activities conducted by 170 conservation agents, hunter education programs and 1,800 volunteer instructors conducting 1,038 classes and certifying approximately 30,000 students annually.
Paid for education materials and contacts with Missouri schoolteachers, the Missouri Conservationist magazine, films, videos, postage and informational programs.
Paid for legal counsel, auditor, summer help and other administrative charges.
Paid for human resources, federal reimbursement administration, fiscal services, aviation services, fleet management, building and grounds maintenance, planning, environmental coordination, information management and technology and other essential services.
Paid for new tracts and additions to existing areas totaling 11,247 acres.
Paid for outstate service centers, hatchery improvements, wetland development, river access site development and the construction of shooting ranges.
Paid for engineering, construction administration and architecture.
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