The Director's perch is a marvelous place to watch Missourians with a positive vision achieve a better tomorrow for conservation.
Janice and David Reynolds of Springfield, for example, believed they could purchase and preserve the upper headwaters of Capps Creek in Wright County for generations to come. Starting with only a vision, they worked with the Missouri Heritage Foundation and in a year raised the necessary funds with the help of over 200 equally dedicated contributors. At a February Commission meeting ceremony, they watched proudly as chairman of the Conservation Commission, Randy Herzog, accepted the newly created 391-acre Cedar Gap Conservation Area from the Foundation.
Earlier this last year, I viewed the unveiling of the plans for the new Wonders of Wildlife Museum in Springfield. Formerly called the American National Fish and Wildlife Living Museum and Aquarium, this facility promises to be one of the nation's finest conservation education attractions and a much needed salute to hunters and anglers that have fought and funded our nation's conservation battles. This "about-to-be" marvel traces its beginnings to the vision of one of Missouri's Master Conservationist award recipients, John L. Morris of Springfield. The WOW acronym for this project clearly captures the excitement and impact this museum will have when it opens to the public in 2001.
I was equally impressed at the recent state natural resources conference when I heard the recital of the long-term vision and accomplishments of the Commission's 1999 Master Conservationist Award recipient, Dr. Al Vogt. Among his many accomplishments in enhancing natural resource and conservation education in Missouri, Dr. Vogt, director of the School of Natural Resources at the University of Missouri-Columbia, successfully worked to secure a $16 million mix of private, state and federal funds to construct the state-of-the-art Anheuser-Busch Natural Resources Building. This new building on the MU campus will house all the disciplines of the school in one location.
It was the work and vision of a few determined conservationists that began the groundswell of enthusiasm and support resulting in the passage of the conservation sales tax amendment in 1976. The Design for Conservation recognized that Missourians wanted to preserve, protect and restore fish and wildlife resources and to have more opportunities and facilities to help them to enjoy outdoor recreation. From small acorns mighty oaks grow, and from the dedication and vision of a few, Missouri's Conservation Department now leads the country in acquiring and preserving recreational lands and wildlife habitat and in working to retain our biodiversity.
Some 195 years ago the Lewis and Clark expedition embarked on a quest called the Corps of Discovery. Their vision took them across half our nation, uncovering and describing the wonders of nature. We should view ourselves as the modern day successors to this Corps of Discovery.
Like the visionaries in the wonderful examples I've mentioned, we should resolve ourselves to pass the torch of conservation proudly to our successors-brighter and bigger and filled with more promise than when it passed into our hands.
The original Design for Conservation will be 25 years old in 2001, and we are beginning to plan a new design for the following quarter-century. Soon, we'll be asking you, our partners in conservation, for your ideas. We want to take advantage of the vision and passion each of you has-in your own way-for a better conservation tomorrow.
JERRY M. CONLEY