Missouri's Forestkeepers

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Published on: Sep. 2, 1999

Last revision: Nov. 3, 2010

of early May 1999, membership had passed 1,080 enrollees, many of whom represent Scouts, 4-H clubs, school classes or civic organizations. An early survey of Forestkeeper interests showed that nearly 20 percent of the members also are active in a number of other conservation organizations, including the Conservation Federation of Missouri, The Nature Conservancy and The National Arbor Day Foundation. At present, Forestkeepers represent 104 of the state's 114 counties.

"I'm tickled to death to see the way the program has taken off," says Forestkeeper Scott Dye. "As soon as I heard about it, I knew it would be really successful. When it comes to volunteers, this state is a juggernaut."

Dye and his Forestkeepers team, all family farmers, also are "state trained water quality monitors" with Missouri Stream Team #714. They joined both organizations because they see a crucial interdependence between streams and trees. Says Dye, "There's a symbiotic relationship between stream health and the riparian corridor. Without needed wooded corridors, stream biology suffers through erosion and polluted runoff."

Dye's team also believes strongly in taking action. "We put in a cedar tree revetment," he explains. "If you want to preach clean water by cedar revetment, you'd better lead by example. As family farmers, it's easy for us to send a message." His team replanted a riparian corridor along Locust Creek and in Unionville's city park. "Wise land use is wise land use," Dye says. "It improves aquatic habitat, the riparian corridor and forest health, and it leaves something behind for the next generation. That's what it's all about."

Forestkeeper Overstreet marked Arbor Day in 1998 by sponsoring the Jordan Creek cleanup, as well as a riparian tree planting. He distributed 1,500 seedlings to landowners for stream bank plantings in Greene, Christian, McDonald and Stone counties. Fayette's Royall encouraged fellow members of his Rotary Club to join Forestkeepers, and in summer 1998 they surveyed trees at nine sites throughout the city. And Joplin's Skelley, who is credited with conducting a highly creative third-grade research project on the gypsy moth, was a "junior trapper" in the state's monitoring program.

Teachers also use Forestkeepers materials, which adhere to many of the Show Me Standards for education. Irene Unger, an instructor at Southwest Missouri State University-West Plains, asked her biology students to survey trees at Vanderhoef Memorial State Forest, a Conservation Department facility near West Plains. Students assessed tree health at two sites: an area that had

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