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Trout Season Opener

Headed to one of Missouri's four trout parks for the spring fishing season opener? Because March 1 falls on a Wednesday this year, you probably won't have to stand elbow-to-elbow with other anglers to wet a line. Year 2000 fishing permits are available by phone before March 1, so you don't need to wait to purchase yours at the trout parks on opening day. However, permits ordered by phone are delivered by mail, and you need a fishing permit in hand to buy your daily trout tag. To ensure that you have your fishing permit in time, place phone orders at least 10 days before March 1.

Conservation Federation Urges Investment in Outdoors

After almost a decade of bipartisan grassroots efforts, Congress is considering a landmark conservation bill.

HCR 701, also known as the Conservation and Reinvestment Act or CARA, came out of committee late last year and will be voted on in the current session of the 106th Congress - probably in early spring. The bill would allocate millions of dollars annually from offshore oil drilling revenues. Part of the money would be used to mitigate ecological impacts of oil development on coastal areas. A substantial sum each year would go to outdoor recreation and wildlife conservation.

Missouri would receive about $17 million a year. This money will be available as grants for local parks and recreation projects through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and for wildlife-related programs through the Missouri Department of Conservation. The Conservation Department would work with local communities on projects to meet local needs.

When it was reported out of committee, CARA had 128 sponsors. Many supporters of similar legislation are expected to sign on as CARA cosponsors, bringing bipartisan support for the bill to more than 200 members of Congress. Most, but not all, of Missouri's congressional delegation supports the bill.

CARA faces opposition from surprisingly diverse interests, including private property groups and the Sierra Club. Denny Ballard, executive director of the Conservation Federation of Missouri, urges

Missourians to contact their legislators to express their desires regarding CARA.

"The Conservation Federation feels strongly that this bill will be good for wildlife, good for parks and recreation and good for Missouri," says Ballard. "We will be doing everything we can to convince Missouri representatives and senators to support CARA. We strongly urge all our members and everyone concerned about the future of wildlife and outdoor recreation to write their legislators in support of CARA."

Vance completes outdoor writers' triple crown

Joel Vance, long-time contributor to the Conservationist, recently received the J. Hammond Brown Memorial Award from the Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA), the nation's largest and most prestigious professional organization for communicators in the field of outdoor recreation and conservation.

The award is named for "Ham" Brown, who served as OWAA president for 15 years, and is presented to members for extraordinary service to the organization.

Vance, himself a former OWAA president, also received the group's Excellence in Craft Award in 1980 and its Jade of Chiefs Award for service to conservation in 1992. He is one of only three OWAA members to win all three awards in the 41 years since the Jade of Chiefs Award was instituted. The other two outdoor communications legends are fishing writer Homer Circle and hunting scribe Grits Gresham.

Vance lives near Russelville with several Brittany spaniels and his patient wife, Marty.

Man Fined for Leaving the Scene of a Shooting

The first person to be charged under a new Missouri law has been given a $400 fine and a suspended 30-day jail term for leaving the scene of a shooting.

The man shot another hunter while hunting turkeys at Davisdale Conservation Area in Howard County. Instead of reporting the incident to law enforcement officers as required by the law that went into effect last August, the man helped the victim to his vehicle and then left without identifying himself. As part of his sentence, he will help the Conservation Department make a hunting safety video, in which he will talk about the shooting incident.

New magazine focuses on Missouri deer

Missouri hunters who are obsessed with white-tailed deer can get a megadose of their favorite subject in the pages of Missouri Deer Hunter, a magazine that will release its first issue in March.

Published by T-N-T Outdoor Publications, Missouri Deer Hunter will feature articles about the best public hunting areas, big deer taken each year, deer biology, deer management and land management for deer. The magazine will focus on providing information about deer behavior and proven hunting techniques.

Subscriptions to the quarterly magazine will cost $10. For more information, contact editor Tony Kalna at P.O. Box 441, Dittmer, MO 63023, phone (636) 285-0893.

Fishing Regs Change March 1

Anglers will want to read the "2000 Summary of Fishing Regulations" carefully. A number of regulation changes approved by the Conservation Commission last year go into effect March 1. Those changes include:

  • Closing the Osage River between Bagnell Dam to the U.S. Highway 54 bridge to snagging, snaring and grabbing from March 15 through April 30.
  • Setting a 34-inch minimum length limit for paddlefish on Lake of the Ozarks and Truman Lake and their tributaries.
  • Requiring anglers to stop snagging, snaring or grabbing for any species of fish after taking a daily limit of two paddlefish on Truman Lake and Lake of the Ozarks and their tributaries and on the Osage River below Highway 54.
  • Creating a statewide, 15-inch minimum length limit for walleyes and saugers. except on the Mississippi River. Bull Shoals and Norfork lakes and their tributaries, the Current and Eleven Point rivers and their tributaries and on Long Branch and Table Rock lakes, have minimum length limit of 18 inches.
  • Setting a daily limit of 10 channel, blue and flathead catfish in the aggregate for Bull Shoals, Table Rock and Norfork lakes.
  • Expanding the smallmouth bass special management area on Big River and establishing smallmouth special management areas on the Eleven Point River and on Mineral Fork, Osage Fork and Ten Mile Creek.
  • Changing equipment requirements and establishing a daily limit for the commercial taking of shovelnose sturgeon.
  • Changing reciprocal fishing regulations on the Missouri River between Missouri and Nebraska.
  • Changing fishing regulations for individual fishing areas managed by the Conservation Department.

Copies of the regulation summary are available free wherever fishing permits are sold.

Piedmont, Mo. - A clean river runs through it

It's hard to overestimate the value of a stream. How much would you pay for a place where generations of kids could wade in bare feet, catch fish or just lie on their backs on a breezy afternoons, watching clouds scud across the sky while the melody of tumbling waters fills their ears?

The City of Piedmont had those kinds of values in mind when, on May 1 last year, it conducted a stream reclamation project, turning 4 miles of McKenzie Creek from a refuse-strewn liability into an important attraction for everyone in town.

The project had its origins in a series of floods that swept down the creek in the 1980s and 1990s. Besides washing everything from major appliances and litter into the stream, the high flows left homes in the flood plain uninhabitable and gouged into stream banks, setting destructive erosion in motion. "People asked what we were going to do about the creek," recalled Mayor Gaylon Watson.

What the city did was assemble an impressive coalition to tackle the welter of problems besetting the little Ozark border stream. Local civic clubs and Girl and Boy Scout groups, Missouri Stream Teams, the State and Federal Emergency Management Agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency, the USDA Forest Service, the Missouri departments of Natural Resources and Conservation, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Wayne County officials joined forces, each doing what best suited its expertise and resources.

The solution to urban blight created by uninhabitable homes was to buy out the owners on a willing-seller basis using federal grants. Planting trees in the cleared floodway created the promise of cool, shady green space for years to come. Stabilization projects ensured that stream banks would stay where they were, preserving the value of remaining homes, bridges and other structures.

Then the city organized a stream cleanup to give Piedmont's citizens a sense of ownership in the project. On the morning of May 1, nearly 250 citizens turned out in hip boots and work gloves and bent to the task. Together, they hauled 1.7 tons of trash out of the stream. When the refrigerators, bathtubs, garden hoses, worn-out tires, barbed wire, auto parts and other debris were hauled off, many of the townspeople were surprised at how beautiful their clear, gravel-bottomed stream looked.

Their pride and excitement were obvious at the barbecue that culminated the morning's work in the city park. Organizers handed out prizes in various categories, including the youngest (6) and oldest (88) participants and for the most unusual refuse items removed (a tie between a vacuum cleaner and a manual typewriter).

Piedmonters are likely to grow even more proud of their creek in the coming months and years. Funding already has been found to build a gazebo as a focal point for community events in one streamside area. A walking track for fitness will be added soon, along with hiking trails, picnic areas and other green-space attractions. City officials also hope to use some of the cleared area for more practical facilities, such as a heliport where medevac helicopters from the hospital in Cape Girardeau can land.

At the end of the cleanup last May, Mayor Watson summed up what the city had accomplished. "It's pretty," he said. "It's got fish in it, and it's something we can be proud of."

Conservation website offers watershed info

A wealth of information about Missouri rivers and their watersheds is available on the Conservation Department's web page. By  clicking on "Rivers and Their Watersheds," you can get information about the physical characteristics of several river basins and the fish species that live there, get suggestions for improving aquatic habitats, peruse an angler's guide or obtain lots of other valuable watershed information. The summaries even include information about threats and opportunities facing each basin. Such information will be of special interest to Missouri Stream Teams and other citizen groups who want to maintain or improve rivers and streams in their areas.

The database currently contains information about nine river basins, but eventually will cover 40. To access the information simply use the web site's map to locate the watershed you are interested in and click on it.

Suburban deer hunting is a different game

Norb Giessman's home south of Columbia sits on 3.5 wooded acres. Weekend mornings from Oct. 1 through Jan. 15 often find him sitting in a tree stand, soaking in the beauty of nature.

Boone County has one of the state's largest concentrations of deer, and to control the area's burgeoning deer population the Conservation Department offers the county's archers up to seven deer tags. So when Giessman climbs up to his stand, he's not just a passive observer of nature's daily drama; he is an active participant.

His stand is a scant 150 yards from his back door, but Giessman feels as if he is in the middle of a vast wilderness. There are some differences, though.

One Sunday morning last October, he watched several deer pass near his stand before a nice buck came close enough for a shot. The arrow fell short, but Giessman was still tingling with excitement as he walked back to his house to tell his family about the adventure. When he got to the house, his wife asked, "Did you get him?"

Surprised and a little deflated, Giessman asked how she knew the morning's events. She explained that the deer meandered through a nearby yard earlier, and a helpful neighbor called to tell Norb to get into his tree stand, fast.

Apparently, hunting gossip is as popular now as it was in prehistoric times. But with modern means of communication, the news sometimes travels so fast that it bypasses the hunter.

"The average citizen, as well as the hunter, has a stake in wild life. It is his property, and the social value of hunting and other recreations depending on wild life affects his individual welfare. He supports parks, schools, museums, etc., not because he uses them personally, but because of their value to society. Why should he not help support wild life conservation?"

- ALDO LEOPOLD,

"Game Survey of the North Central States," 1931

Centennial Forests: Rise of the Big Mills (1900s)

The lumbermen who came to the Ozarks after the Civil War were pioneers in a sense, but they were primarily businessmen looking to make a profit. The Ozark logging boom began with the arrival of the railroad, making it profitable to move lumber to Kansas City, St. Louis and Chicago. It was profitable; you could buy an acre of land with 4,000 board feet of virgin pine for less than $1.

Boom towns like Doniphan, Leeper, West Eminence, Winona and Birch Tree sprang up around the largest sawmills. Grandin, in Carter County, is perhaps the best-known mill town. Built by the Missouri Lumber and Mining Company, it had many of the amenities of much larger communities, including a library, electric lights, a telephone system and a well-stocked company store. It had a public school with a three-year high school offering advanced courses in mathematics, science and literature. The company had a medical service. Families paid $1.25 per month and single men paid 75 cents.

The two mills at Grandin had a capacity of 220,000 board feet of lumber per day. Ninety train-carloads of logs were required every day to feed the mill. With two sawmills, four planing mills, 14 drying kilns, 30 warehouses and a 40-acre drying yard, Grandin was the largest sawmill in the world.

Most workers earned $1.35 to $1.25 per 11-hour workday, six days a week. Skilled workers were paid as much as $2.50 a day. Wages were paid in cash as opposed to the company-store scrip many used.

By 1910, the timber around Grandin was cut, and the mill closed. The mill equipment was moved to West Eminence, and the loggers began cutting timber in Shannon County.

For more information about Grandin, obtain a copy of Historic Driving Tour of Grandin from your local Conservation Department forester or write Centennial Forests, Missouri Department of Conservation, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City MO 65102-0180. A 24-minute video tape "Grandin: The Big Mill and Tall Timber," is available for $11 plus tax and shipping from the Conservation Department's Nature Shop by calling (573) 751-4115, ext. 325.

Bruce Palmer

Agents scoring big against poachers

  • Last summer agents served a search warrant on a private fish hatchery in Randolph County, where they found black carp. The fish, which eat clams and snails, are not native to Missouri and could disrupt the aquatic food chain in waters where they have no natural enemies. The operators of the hatchery face state and federal charges.
  • A gross violation of bag limits on Canada geese earned 10 poachers in Chariton County $7,050 in fines. Between them, they had 104 of the big birds.
  • No one can accuse poachers of lacking imagination or guts, but they're not likely to win any awards for good sense, either. An informant who called the Operation Game Thief hotline apparently was trying to play both sides against the middle. He tipped Ozark Region Protection District Supervisor Kevin Patterson that someone had killed a protected species. Patterson discovered that the tipster and the "perp" were the same person. The man got a $500 fine and a 12-month suspended jail sentence. Most disappointing of all, he didn't get a reward for his tip.
  • During deer season last November, conservation agents nabbed eight Arkansas hunters who baited their leased hunting land in Howell County with corn. Each paid $300 for violating Missouri's law against using food to attract deer for hunting purposes. Two of the men also apparently decided that wearing hunter orange was a fashion statement they didn't care to make. Their fashion faux pas earned the pair an additional $100 fine.
  • You can run, but you may not be able to hide from the long arm of conservation law. Three Missouri men poached a pronghorn antelope in Wyoming, and when authorities there came after them they dumped the ill-gotten game and fled home. They hadn't counted on the fact that conservation agents from different states talk to each other and help out when possible. Missouri agents found antelope blood in the poachers' pickup truck and matched the truck's tire treads to prints left in Wyoming.

Two of the interstate poachers paid $6,000 each in fines and received one-year suspended jail sentences for taking the antelope out of season and wanton destruction of game. They also lost their Wyoming hunting and fishing privileges for six years. The third man received a $1,000 fine for wanton destruction of game and a year of unsupervised probation. Add $750 court costs for the one poacher who fought extradition, and you have a total price of $13,750 for violating game laws.

Missourians who witness poaching or have information about violations of the Wildlife Code can remain anonymous and claim cash rewards for tips that lead to convictions by calling the Operation Game Thief hotline, (800) 392-1111.

Great Scott!

You have to wonder how Great Scott Cave got its name. Maybe it was the bats.

The cave near Sullivan is the winter home of thousands of Indiana bats. As recently as 1983, upwards of 85,000 of the bats were hibernating there. It's easy to imagine someone looking up at the cave's ceiling and exclaiming, "Great Scott!"

Now, however, the Indiana bat is endangered, and fewer than 10,000 come to Great Scott Cave annually. People were entering the cave and disturbing the bats so the Conservation Department walled off the main entrance. Recently, however, concern has arisen that lack of air flow was keeping the cave too warm to allow the bats to hibernate properly. To remedy the problem, Conservation Department workers tore out the wall and replaced it with a steel gate that keeps intruders out and lets cool air in. Monitoring is under way to discover if the gate is doing its job.

Doubled development spurs sustainable solutions

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently reported that the rate of development of farmland, forest and other open spaces more than doubled in the 1990s. From 1992 to 1997 Americans built on or paved over an average of 3.2 million acres per year. Development claimed only 1.4 million acres per year in the preceding decade.

Leading the trend were Texas, Pennsylvania and Georgia, each of which lost more than a million acres of open land to development from 1992 to 1997. Missouri ranked 19th, with 310,500 acres lost to development during the same period.

Development has driven up land values, providing a windfall for farmers who sell out. But their gains caused a loss of environmental quality and quality of life in rural areas and suburbs.

Some cities and states have tried to slow the trend by offering cash to farmers who stay in business. Such programs are expensive, but proponents say this approach helps channel urban sprawl and sustains farming communities.

HABITAT HINTS

Is an alien hiding in your garden? Are there pods out there, ready to burst and unleash a plague of ecological horrors on the defenseless, unsuspecting natives? It's not as farfetched as you may think.

Most plants are harmless or even beneficial in their native settings. But take them across an ocean and dump them - without the diseases, insects and other factors that normally keep them in check - and exotic plants can cause enormous trouble. Problems associated with nonnative plants include economic damage to agriculture and loss of ecological diversity. On a more personal note, exotic plants can make it hard to keep your own garden healthy and productive.

Alien plants can take root anywhere. Missouri's problem plants include musk thistle, purple loosestrife, garlic mustard, shrub honeysuckle, teasel, Japanese honeysuckle, wintercreeper, crown vetch and oriental bittersweet. Some are even promoted as "miracle plants" by commercial nurseries.

Detailed information about identifying and combating the spread of alien plants in Missouri is available by clicking on "Nature" at the Conservation Department's web page <http://www.mdc.mo.gov/>. Other on-line sites for information about exotic plants include <http://tncweeds.ucdavis.edu/esadocs.html> and <http://www.nps.gov./plants/alien/>.

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