When Missourians Speak
Do you know that more campers, hikers and wildlife watchers use Missouri conservation areas than hunters or anglers?
That one-third of all travel spending in Missouri comes from wildlife recreationists, supporting nearly 57,000 jobs?
These are only a few of the diverse facts that the Conservation Department gleans each year from its surveys of Missouri citizens. As a public service organization, the Conservation Department depends on your input.
"As biologists, we believe we know how to manage wildlife," says Public Involvement Coordinator David Thorne. "Through communication we tell you what we're doing and get feedback on what people want, so we can make the most informed conservation decisions."
This communication is vital to the Conservation Department's mission. Not only does the Conservation Department strive to educate the public about wildlife and the many opportunities available to enjoy the outdoors in Missouri, it seeks to know your opinions, interests and level of participation so it can better manage public land and provide you with the services and programs you want. Conservation Department employees gather most of this information through surveys.
"We do surveys to find out the interests of Missourians," says Thorne, "as a way of deciding how to spend scarce conservation dollars."
Some of these surveys, such as post-harvest surveys and fish-creel surveys, have always been used by the Conservation Department to monitor game populations and hunting and fishing pressures. It has only been in the last 20 years, however, since the J of one percent Conservation Sales Tax began, that the attitudes, opinions and interests of all Missourians have been regularly solicited and considered. This change in policy has meant even bigger changes for the people of Missouri.
For example, the strong desire of urban residents to learn more about nature in safe, convenient settings led to the construction of state-of-the-art nature centers in four major Missouri cities. A strong interest in target shooting by both hunters and non-hunters led to more target ranges being built or restored on select conservation areas. And a strong desire for a more flexible turkey season (along with more turkeys!) led to the new 3-week spring turkey season.
Surveys are conducted when managers need answers to specific questions. How is a conservation area being used? What type of technical assistance do landowners want? Who is fishing Little Dixie Lake? How do Springfield residents feel about wildlife in their backyards? There are almost as many types of surveys as there are questions, but