Reflections

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Plant Pickers

Thank you for publicizing the devastation caused by invasive exotic vegetation. Unfortunately most urban dwellers are not aware that plants such as Asian bush honeysuckle have drastically damaged their natural surroundings.

I can’t help but wonder if there might be an untapped market for removing these plants. If homeowners are as sensitive to their back yards being choked with honeysuckles as they are with crabgrass, perhaps the removal of these plants could turn into a profitable service industry.

Eric S. Bohle, Columbia

Regarding your article on alien plants, it is ironic to note that the Conservation Department promoted the planting of multiflora rose and autumn olive, and even provided the seedlings.

I have dug out scores of these evils, as well as Japanese honeysuckle. Digging is surer and safer than herbicides, and does little damage to native flora. For the more mature autumn olive, I find that cutting and applying full-strength Roundup to the stubs is most effective.

Charles M. Schlanker, DeSoto

Editor’s note: According to author Tim Smith, the Conservation Department's development of an "Exotic Plant Species" policy in 1997 marked a turning point in our attitude toward the use of non-native species that spread aggressively from planting sites. The document formalized our intent to primarily use native plant species on lands that we manage and it forbid the use of a number of exotic plants that spread.

Lake Luster

I enjoyed the article by Mike Kruse on Lake Taneycomo. I’ve always been interested in the history, present condition and future of this great fishery. I hope it will be a laboratory to see how we can balance urban growth and natural resources in the future.

George M. Bohigian, M.D., St. Louis

English Lesson

I used to live in Warrensburg, but I returned to my home country of Taiwan, Republic of China. The Conservationist not only taught me, a person from a foreign country, knowledge of natural activities, it also taught me English. I had a very hard time with the magazine due to my aviation background, but I spent a lot of time reading it with a dictionary next to me. I still have the dictionary when I read your magazine, but I don’t have much need to use it.

Nelson Liu, Taiwan, Republic of China

Alien Jam

The fruit of the autumn olive makes a delicious jam. It is also good as a substitute for cranberry jelly. Harvest the berries when they are fully ripe. Process much as you would grapes by cooking and running through a food mill before turning the results into jam.

The ripe berries are also good eating out of hand. The seeds are relatively soft and can be munched up with the rest of the berry. Knowing how invasive these bushes are, I would not recommend planting them; but as long as they are there, enjoy them.

Rosemary Teel, Columbia

Gooseberry Memories

I enjoyed your article on gooseberries. It brought back many memories. I am in my 70's. I was born and raised near Owensville.

On our farm there were lots of gooseberry vines. Every spring my mother would put sleeves on our arms, and pin them to our shirt to protect us from the stickers. There were five of us kids picking. We made a game out of it. Occasionally we would pop a green one in our mouth. If you flinched, you had to help Mom pull all the stems and tails off the berries.

Gooseberry pie is still No.1 with me.

Lew Triplett, Osage Beach

Bird Booster

I enjoyed your article on migrating birds. For several years, killdeer have nested in my front yard. When I hear them calling, I start watching for nests. I set a bucket or other object next to each nest so we don’t damage it. One of the females has become so used to me that she doesn’t even get off her nest when I come near.

Two summers ago, we spent several hours watching four adults guarding baby hatchlings. They swooped and called over the babies all afternoon. Soon the babies became stronger and were running all over the yard. They looked like little brown puffballs with toothpicks for legs. Suddenly the noise stopped, and they were gone. We didn’t see them again until the next spring.

Bonnie Wopp, Marshfield

Quail Formula

On our 400-acre farm every field was bordered by gullies, brier patches and lespedeza. There were at least three coveys of quail on our land and another five on neighboring farms. We didn’t hunt them, because shotshells were too expensive.

When my brothers returned from WWII service, we began to upgrade the farming operation. We went from horses to tractor power. We closed all the gullies and reclaimed all the fields for cropland. I haven’t seen or heard a quail since the mid 1980s.

Modern farming practices leave no idle acres or fencerows, and most of the harvested acres are plowed under by Thanksgiving day. Little wonder quail have disappeared.

Wallace Sehrt, Washington

Balancing Act

I really liked your May issue. It had a balance of material in it instead of just fishing and hunting. The article about the birdman was good,because it told about the beloved hawks and falcons that fly so gracefully as they hunt for prey. I learned a lot from the "Duck Design" article, and "How Fish Swim" was a good article for kids.

Jerry O'Neill, Aurora

The letters printed here reflect readers' opinions about the Conservationist and its contents. Space limitations prevent us from printing all letters, but we welcome signed comments from our readers. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

Ask the Ombudsman

Q: We were fishing below Truman Dam and noticed an awful lot of litter - beverage and bait containers, old fishing line, etc. What can be done about this mess?

A: Conservation agents spend a good deal of time enforcing littering laws, and most courts take a dim view of this offense. I’m aware of at least one county where the minimum fine for littering is $125 - serious money for a can or bait container, especially when you add court costs (administrative fees assessed in almost all court proceedings) which average between $40-$50. More courts also are sentencing offenders to community assistance work details, including trash pick-up, which seems fitting punishment.

Most Missourians appreciate the outdoors and practice the credo, "If you pack it in - pack it out." Not only are they committed to take action against the slobs that trash our streams and forests, but they also are involved in clean-up programs sponsored by local communities, civic groups and organizations like Stream Teams. A combination of education, enforcement, tough sentencing for violators and increased public stewardship seems the best solution to littering.

For more information on Stream Teams, contact the departments of Conservation or Natural Resources or the Conservation Federation of Missouri. Or you can visit www.mdc.mo.gov/fish/streams/ on the web, and click on "Form A Stream Team."

Ombudsman Ken Drenon will respond to your questions, suggestions or complaints concerning Conservation Department programs. Write him at P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180, call him at (573) 751-4115, ext. 3848, or e-mail him at <Ken.Drenon@mdc.mo.gov>.

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