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Forest Nursery Encourages Missourians to Go Nuts

The Conservation Department's George O. White State Forest Nursery near Licking offers 60 species of trees and shrubs for reforestation, wildlife habitat improvement, windbreaks, erosion control and other environmental uses.

This year, the nursery is offering a special bundle of extra-large nut trees. These bundles include 15 pecan seedlings two feet and taller, and 15 black walnut seedlings measuring three feet or more.

Missourians can order seedlings through May 1. Most are sold in bundles of 25 that cost $3 to $12. Order forms, including lists of available seedlings and bundles, are available from the Missouri Department of Conservation, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180, or online.

In addition to spelling out which plants you want, the order form allows you to specify when you want the plants delivered. You may prefer to pick them up at the nursery from February through May. Orders are filled on a first-come, first-served basis, so it's best to order early.

Young Missourian Wins National Acclaim

Troy Harris, 19, of Blue Springs, won national recognition in the national Junior Duck Stamp Contest. This oil painting of drake and hen redhead ducks won honorable mention in the 2000 contest. His painting also won best-of-show in the Missouri state competition, which is sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Greater Lake Area Arts Council. Entry packets and contest rules are available from Junior Duck Stamp Entry Packet, Distribution Center, Missouri Department of Conservation, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180. Teachers must submit entries by March 15.

Centennial Forests: Forestry in the 21st Century

December ends a year-long celebration honoring 100 years of forest conservation in the United States. Our forests have undergone a remarkable recovery over the past century-from cutover wastelands to the beautiful, productive forests of today. Working together, foresters and landowners have made that recovery possible.

I struggled with this last Centennial Forests column. I wanted to write something philosophical about the challenges foresters will face in the 21st century as they manage and sustain complex forest systems that can still provide the goods and services people need.

As I sat staring at my computer, my teenage daughter and her friend ran up the stairs and berated me for having made Centennial Forests promotional items out of wood.

"How could you cut down trees to make wooden yo-yos and tops?" they cried. "What about global warming and deforestation and carbon storage?"

As I explained to them that trees are renewable resources, it occurred to me that education is still one of our biggest challenges. Managing forests is a complex job. Explaining what we do so people understand is an even greater challenge.

My daughter, who often helps me cut firewood and accompanies me on many hiking and camping trips in the woods, still did not fully understand that it is OK to cut trees if you do it responsibly.

I suspect that many of her classmates, and Missourians in general, are confused by the mixed messages they hear about caring for our forests. Healthy, productive forests seldom happen by accident. Forest managers make decisions based on years of scientific study and training. We have many success stories to tell. We need to explain those successes so everyone understands how active forest management, including the careful, responsible harvesting of trees, can contribute to diverse, healthy forests.

Education was one of the primary objectives of the fledgling forestry profession 100 years ago. Education is still one of our biggest challenges as we begin our second century.

- Bruce Palmer, Forester

HABITAT HINTS

Assessing Your Home Landscape's Wildlife Value

Feeding wildlife is one of America's most popular wildlife-based activities. People spend huge amounts of time and money putting up and stocking feeders. Yet, we seldom consider how to make the most of natural foods that already exist around our homes.

This is the perfect time of year to inventory your property's natural wildlife food sources and make plans to enhance them. Instead of watching the birds and other wildlife only when they are at feeders, notice where they congregate when they aren't eating artificial foods.

For example, a flock of cedar waxwings foraging in fruit-laden hawthorn trees or holly bushes might inspire you to use related varieties in your home landscape.

Do rabbits nibble grass at the edge of your yard? Consider leaving a small, unmowed patch in that area to give them cover.

Watching where animals congregate in the wild can be revealing, too. If you find that blue jays frequently gather in a sumac thicket at the edge of your yard, you might consider expanding the size of the sumac patch. Sumac berries are a favorite food of many birds. What's more, sumac leaves turn brilliant shades-from scarlet to royal purple-in the fall. The wine-colored seed heads glow like candles throughout the winter, at least until the birds devour them.

Noting that owls, cardinals and squirrels seek the shelter of cedar trees might prompt you to plant evergreens. Besides providing protected staging areas for birds visiting your feeders, female cedars produce berries that many birds relish.

Plant nurseries that participate in Missouri's Grow Native! program can provide advice and planting materials to help make your property more hospitable to wildlife. These nurseries even label wildlife-friendly plants with special Grow Native! tags. For a list of participating nurseries, send a self-addressed envelope with 55 cents postage to Grow Native!, P.O. Box 104671, Jefferson City, MO 65110.

Feds Taking Over Goose Hunts at Swan Lake NWR

The goose hunting program at Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge is changing hands. In June 2001, the Conservation Department will transfer administrative authority for goose hunts on the federal refuge to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). The current hunting season is serving as a transition period in which the two agencies are running the program jointly.

Increased dispersal of Canada geese and delayed goose migration prompted the change. FWS officials have pledged continuing support for goose hunting at Swan Lake, and the Conservation Department will continue to administer deer hunts there.

Last Chance to Buy No-creel Trout Permits

his is the last year you will need to buy a permit to fish at Missouri's four trout parks during the off-season. Winter no-creel fishing will continue in 2001-2002, but the no-creel permit will be gone.

The no-creel season at Bennett Spring, Montauk and Roaring River state parks and at Maramec Spring Park runs from the second weekend in November through the second weekend in February. You have to release the trout you catch, but the good news is you don't have to fight elbow-to-elbow crowds.

A $5, no-creel trout permit, officially known as an Area Winter Trout Fishing Tag, is all you need this year to fish from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays for the entire three-month season at all four trout parks. Anglers no longer have to check in to receive daily no-creel tags. Beginning in November 2001, however, the no-creel permit will be discontinued, and no-creel fishing privileges in trout parks will be included in the statewide Trout Permit.

No-creel permits are available at all permit vendors in Barry, Dallas, Dent, Laclede and Phelps counties and at trout park headquarters.

It's a good idea to buy your permit ahead of time. Although trout parks are less crowded during no-creel season, anglers who wait until they get to trout parks to buy permits may have to wait in line.

Losing Stream Project a WINNER for Watershed Committee

The Watershed Committee of the Ozarks has received a Governor's 2000 Pollution Prevention Award for its work protecting the City of Springfield's water supply.

The Watershed Committee, which is one of Missouri's 1,600 Stream Teams, received the honor for its involvement in the Mill Ridge Conservation Buffer Project. The project set aside undeveloped land along the South Dry Sac River. The buffer helps keep the stream clean by filtering runoff from developed land nearby.

The South Dry Sac River is a "losing" stream. This means that all or part of its flow drains into an underground stream through openings in the underlying bedrock. Water "lost" from the South Dry Sac River re-emerges at Fulbright Spring, which supplies part of Springfield's municipal water needs.

The awards program, co-sponsored by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, honored the Watershed Committee in the land-use category. The Mill Ridge Development Corp., City Utilities of Springfield and Greene County Resource Management also cooperated on the project.

Eagles go baldly where no chick has gone before

Missouri's native population of bald eagles showed continued growth this year, fledging about 100 eaglets.The Conservation Department has monitored eagle nesting activity since 1984. That year, Missouri saw the first documented eagle nesting in modern times. The state's lone eagle nest failed to fledge any young that year, but in 1985 two pairs of eagles successfully raised four chicks. The trend has been upward ever since.

Last year, biologists found 53 nesting pairs of bald eagles, and young birds fledged from 47 nests. With so many nests and chicks to watch, it isn't possible to tell exactly how many birds fledge. Production in 1999 was estimated to be between 80 and 90 birds fledged. This year, biologists found 64 nesting pairs, and 48 nests fledged 95 to 101 young eagles.

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