A Strategy for Conservation Success
synergy that ultimately better serves the public interest.
The Conservation Department has had a long, fruitful partnership with the Conservation Federation of Missouri, which represents hundreds of the state's outdoor-oriented organizations, ranging from cycling clubs to fur trappers.
The relatively new Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation offers the possibility of generating new funds from non-traditional sources to help our overall conservation effort. The Foundation provides a method for many public and private organizations to donate funds for specific projects and programs. The Conservation Department will also be seeking funds from corporate sponsors. The money they might spend on one television commercial, for example, could build a river access or a wildlife viewing tower that would benefit both the sponsor and the people of the state.
Upon passage of the Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA), the Department would set into motion additional cost-sharing opportunities for communities to provide conservation-related education and recreation programs close to home. The funds also could help reverse the downward trend we've seen in many bird species by allowing the Conservation Department to acquire and protect more prairie and wetlands.
The Conservation Department recognizes that many interest groups and non-governmental organizations participate directly or indirectly in fish, forest and wildlife conservation. We invite such groups to Conservation Focus meetings to explore with them all opportunities for working together and sharing resources.
Conservation Department employees are asked to keep a vision or goal in front of them as they work on behalf of wildlife and natural habitats. This vision is included in the strategic plan.
To have healthy, sustainable plant and animal communities throughout Missouri for future generations to use and enjoy, and that fish, forest, and wildlife resources are in appreciably better condition tomorrow than they are today
That all Missourians understand the relationship and value of plant and animal communities to social and economic well-being.
That citizens and government agencies work together to protect, sustain, enhance, restore or create sustainable plant and animal communities of local, state, and national significance
Retain Public Support and Recruit New Participants
Although hunters and anglers provide the foundation of support for conservation in the state, surveys show that camping, hiking, canoeing, wildlife-viewing and other types of non-consumptive recreation are of growing importance to Missourians. We want to create or maintain diverse recreational opportunities in each region of the state. We hope to accomplish this by managing Conservation Department lands for a variety of uses and by teaching people the skills necessary to take part in wholesome outdoor activities.
In Missouri, angler numbers have remained strong, while hunter numbers have been declining slightly, but steadily, in recent years. The strategic plan addresses the decline in participation in small game hunting and calls for a return of hunter numbers to 1987 levels.
Why don't more people hunt? The most compelling reasons, surveys show, are lack of opportunity, lack of time, lack of success and lack of knowledge.
Increasing hunter numbers will involve providing access to public and private lands, especially those within driving distances of our large cities. It will also involve providing more wildlife habitat so that game populations can increase and teaching people, particularly urban dwellers, how to hunt and how to handle firearms safely. To ensure that the tradition of hunting is passed on to future generations, the Conservation Department will increase training and opportunities for youthful hunters.
New youth waterfowl and turkey hunts and managed deer hunts are designed to recruit new hunters by providing them with the opportunity to harvest game before the "crush" and competition of the regular season puts them at a disadvantage.
The strategic plan also calls for increasing angler numbers, particularly by recruiting teens and young adults. Surveys have shown that if people don't start fishing early in life, they stand a good chance of never becoming anglers. As with hunting, Conservation Department efforts will be devoted to increasing interest, knowledge and opportunities.
Conservation is not a matter of a year or a decade. It must sustain itself through generations. Missouri can remain the conservation state only by continually recruiting a new base of support for protecting our treasured forest, fish and wildlife resources.