"Cedar Gap is a place to step back in time," says Janice Reynolds. "In this pristine piece of the Ozarks, you can stand quietly and hear only the birds singing, the trickle of a stream, a distant hoot of an owl."Because she wants to protect the area's steep valleys and tall timber, Janice, her husband, David, and a group of 23 people raised $140,000 to purchase 391 acres of land near the town of Cedar Gap in Wright County. The land forms the headwaters of Bryant Creek, a popular float and fishing stream.
"The tract is only 35 miles from Springfield," David Reynolds explains. "It will be a place to spend the day hiking and enjoying the Missouri Ozarks."
The Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation was created in November 1997 to help with conservation programs in Missouri like the Cedar Gap project. "The Foundation is a great partner to help with the project," says David Reynolds. "We received numerous donations-usually checks-for the Cedar Gap project that the Foundation deposited in a special account. When all the money had been raised, the Foundation purchased the tract and deeded it over to the Conservation Department for management."
"What a great day that was," says Janice Reynolds, who shares her husband's love of the outdoors. "But it took continued support from a lot of people to make it happen.
"The quality of outdoor life for future generations depends heavily on decisions made now," she continues. "We all share responsibility for protecting the environment, and David and I are thankful for the Foundation's help."
Foundations are not a new concept. There are over 40,000 foundations in the United States that give approximately $12 billion annually to support a variety of causes. Projects funded by the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation help meet the overall conservation needs of the state.
"The Conservation Department has always been honored by donations from generous and conservation-minded citizens," says Conservation Department Director Jerry Conley. Those special people are greatly appreciated, and we hope to encourage them to continue their benevolent giving." Contributions received by the Conservation Department in the past include real estate, cash, securities, farm tractors and implements, boats and motors-even automobiles.
Machinery donated to the Conservation Department is put to immediate use; money is deposited in a general fund and assigned to a project when annual budgets are prepared. Money donated to the Foundation, however, is available immediately. Donors can direct their contributions to a specific project, like the citizens group in Wright County, or simply request that the money be used where needed.
"The Conservation Department is doing a fine job of managing the state's forest, fish and wildlife resources with income from permit sales and sales tax," says Andy Dalton, Foundation president. "But the increases in human population, loss of habitat and constant pressure for recreational space soon will outstrip the Conservation Department's ability to keep pace. The Foundation will help support Conservation programs by obtaining funding from other sources."
The Foundation also is assisting with a major project in Newton County. The Ozark Council of Trout Unlimited is organizing the state's Trout Unlimited chapters and other conservation organizations, such as the Southern Council of the Federation of Fly Fishers, to raise funds to purchase a segment of Capps Creek, a cold water trout stream located west of Monett. The 604-acre Capps Creek tract includes 1.5 miles of a clear, spring-fed cold water stream that supports a healthy population of trout.
"Missouri has only 200 miles of streams capable of supporting trout," says Curt Morgret, past president of the Mid Missouri Chapter of Trout Unlimited. "These unique streams are a limited and valuable resource that should be protected."
"The Foundation provides ways that would not otherwise be available," Morgret says. "For example, the Foundation qualifies for certain private and federal grants to assist with the acquisition. That could make the difference in protecting some of Missouri's most rare and beautiful streams."
Another exciting opportunity for the Foundation was assisting with a peregrine falcon restoration project in Springfield. Commerce Bank of Kansas City provided $5,000 toward the purchase of five peregrine falcon chicks. Each chick costs $1,500, leaving the need for an additional $2,500. Donors who contributed to the project received tax benefits, in addition to having the pleasure of assisting with an important project. Southwest Missouri State University also assisted. Biologists housed the falcon chicks on top of a campus dormitory while they grew and adjusted to their new surroundings. Graduate student Krista Deckard organized a group of volunteers to feed and care for the young falcon chicks, and also provided observations on the location of the young falcons after they had left the nest.
"The project was successful because of assistance from Commerce Bank and the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation," says Jim D. Wilson, a Conservation Department ornithologist. "These kinds of partnerships add a lot of stability to Conservation Department programs."
On a much larger scale, the Foundation is spearheading a capital campaign to provide funding for construction of the Discovery Center, an educational facility to be built in Kauffman Park in Kansas City. The Ewing Marion Legacy Kauffman Foundation is leasing the land for the facility while government, corporate and private donors are contributing to the capital campaign.
The public can contribute to the project by buying a $100 brick, a $500 tree or by making a cash donation.
Pending approval by the legislature and governor, Missourians may be given the option to display their conservation pride by purchasing a specialized license plate for their cars or trucks. A similar program has been successful in other states, including Iowa, Georgia and Florida. Proceeds from the purchase of conservation license plates will go to the Foundation.
"We continue to have requests to fund projects that the Conservation Department budget simply won't be able to handle for many years," says Director Jerry Conley. "A successful license plate program by the Foundation would give a significant boost to conservation projects around our state."
Foundation Board members include President Andy Dalton, Springfield; Vice President Jeff Churan, Chillicothe; Chairman of the Board Jay Henges, St. Louis; Treasurer Winnie Runge, Mexico; Secretary Jerry J. Presley, Jefferson City; John Powell, Rolla; Jerry P. Combs, Kennett and Richard Reed, Charleston. Additional members of the board include the chairman of the Conservation Commission, currently Randy Herzog, St. Joseph, and Conservation Department Director Jerry Conley, Jefferson City.
For additional information, contact Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation, P.O. Box 366, Jefferson City, MO 65102 0366. Telephone (573) 751-4115, ext.139 or 209.
Editor - Tom Cwynar
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