"Pining for the Dwindling Shortleaf" was great. My husband and I were caretakers for seven years on what would become Peter A. Eck Conservation Area. That was when the Ecks still owned it.
We loved the area and miss it so much. We always knew minutes before it was going to rain because we heard it in the pines first. We're so happy the Conservation Department bought the land instead of someone else. We know that it won't be destroyed.
F. & V. Peckron, Rolla
I was glad to see the article on getting slimy deer poachers taken care of. It truly is amazing how some people believe they are above the Wildlife Code. Your article noted that they were not hunters. I would suggest that in the future you make this point earlier, for those readers who don't make it to the end of the article.
John Lindner, Kansas City
Your March News and Almanac section tells of a "first case" of a conviction of the violation of the Hunter Harassment Law. Not that it makes a lot of difference, but I think my case was the first successful conviction in Missouri under this very important law.
In addition to being a volunteer hunter education instructor and the coordinator of Laclede County's Share the Harvest program, I help the Conservation Department's wildlife damage control biologist.
In 2000, I had 39 coyote restraints stolen or destroyed. The perpetrator was convicted by jury trial of stealing and violating Missouri statute 578.151, "Interference with lawful hunting, fishing or trapping in the first degree."
Each and every year, I have had my traps stolen or destroyed and finally decided to do something about it.
W. Ed Fleshman, Lebanon
Being newly married to a man who gave me a rod and reel as a wedding present, I particularly enjoyed "Stream Smallmouths for Beginners."
After reading it, I decided to try out my rod and reel, using a spinnerbait. You can imagine my husband's surprise when he came home to find I had caught a 3-pound largemouth that was 17 1/4 inches long. If I had not read your article, I would not have tried fishing, but now I'm hooked.
Sandi Pittman, Lampe
Tax At Work
After reading your March issue, I am writing to thank the voters of Missouri for the passage of the 1/8 of one cent sales tax on Nov. 2, 1976. It was approved three years before I was born, but I am able to enjoy wonderful conservation programs and public lands because of it.
I am glad the voters had such foresight, and I hope my generation and others to come can be just as thoughtful and considerate of our state's natural resources.
Michael Durbin, Springfield
Your news item titled "Gator Gar Tops 2001 Fishing Records" caught my attention.
In 1937, when I was 17, my dad and uncle lowered a 15-foot wire fencing with a windlass from the bank into a slough of the Mississippi River. When we raised the fencing, a gar was trapped inside.
We put the fish on the back bumper of the car and took it to the feed store to weigh it. It hung about a foot over each side of the bumper and really got some stares. The gar was 7 feet long and weighed 156 pounds.
Lorene Shockley, O'Fallon
On page 24 of your March issue, I found a word I'd never before encountered: Enchancement. Was this a deliberate invention on your part? Or did it happen inadvertently?
It's a perfect example of a portmanteau word, a coined word that blends two other words in form and meaning. A good example is the way smog combines smoke and fog. Your word blends enchantment and enhancement. I like it!
Eugene Lane, Columbia
For The Ages
I have a seven-year-old boy who checks his mailbox every day after getting off my bus. I wish you could have seen the look of pure delight on his face when he pulled your March issue out and saw its vibrant cover.
I am eye-witness to the way your magazine touches the hearts of people of all ages, from my one-year-old grandchild to a 99-year-old resident of the nursing home where I work as activities director.
Cheryl Ahlers, Humansville
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: What opportunities does the Conservation Department have for folks like me who want to volunteer?
A: The Conservation Department relies on volunteers for many programs. Nature Center volunteers are crucial to handling the huge number of visitors at those facilities. You'll find volunteering information on the Department's web site.
Since 1986, hunters born on or after 1/1/67 have been required to attend a 10-hour hunter education course in order to buy any Missouri permit with which a firearm may be used. The majority of the hunter education courses are taught by citizen volunteers. For more information, please contact your local conservation agent or Conservation Department regional office. Another site, International Hunter Education Association, is completely devoted to professional and volunteer hunter education instructors .
One of the most popular volunteer efforts has been STREAM TEAM, sponsored by the Conservation Department, the Conservation Federation of Missouri, and the Department of Natural Resources. This program relies on thousands of Missourians caring for and monitoring the state's streams. Adopt an Access is a new STREAM TEAM concept in which citizens work directly with Conservation Department managers to maintain and improve public fishing accesses. For more on STREAM TEAMS and Adopt an Access, call (800) 781-1989.
We can't list all of the many volunteer possibilities, but here's one more opportunity for those interested in the health of Missouri's forests: It's called Forest Keepers. This program relies on citizens to monitor forest conditions. Given the current difficulties with oak borers, drought and other maladies, citizen service in this arena is greatly appreciated.
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>.