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"Design" Benefits Fishing and Streams

If, 25 years ago, you had told fisheries management professionals that 40,000 Missouri citizens would flock to their aid, donating millions of dollars worth of labor to care for streams, they might have said you were a cockeyed optimist. If you had told people in downtown St. Louis and Kansas City that they soon would be able to catch rainbow trout in their neighborhoods, they might have questioned your sanity. Yet these and many other astonishing changes have occurred since Missouri voters approved a sales tax for the Missouri Department of Conservation in 1976.

In August 1975 the Conservation Department laid out a plan for how it would use money from a proposed sales tax. Voters went to the polls in 1976 and approved a one-eighth of 1 percent general sales tax earmarked for the Conservation Department's exclusive use.

Among the many promises conservation officials made was to upgrade fish hatcheries, provide better access to streams and build more lakes. Today, 25 years after sales tax revenues began arriving, Missourians have:

  • Urban and suburban fishing programs that offer year-round fishing opportunities;
  • 500 lake, river and stream accesses;
  • 125 community lakes and hundreds more on conservation areas;
  • Programs that introduce Missourians to fishing through local workshops;
  • State-of-the-art fish hatcheries that produce more than 20 million fish annually, compared to 5 million in 1976.

Statewide initiatives have brought walleye and muskellunge fishing to new locations around the state and established special areas where anglers can find superb fishing for rock bass, smallmouth bass, brown trout and rainbow trout. Missouri even has several wild trout management areas. A bluegill research project now under way will develop management strategies for this popular species.

One of the biggest success stories to come out of the Design for Conservation is Missouri Stream Team, a cooperative effort of the Conservation Department, the Conservation Federation of Missouri and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. This volunteer program empowers citizens to adopt and care for their favorite streams. In the 12 years since the program began, Missourians have formed more than 2,000 Stream Teams. Each chooses its own focus. The most common activities are stream cleanups and water quality monitoring. Tens of thousands of Stream Team members multiply the Conservation Department's ability to protect streams.

It's almost impossible to gauge the impact that the Design for Conservation has had on Missouri's water-based resources. People in the mid 1970s understood that their fish, forests and wildlife were at a crossroads, much as they were before the creation of the Conservation Department in the 1930s. They may not have known exactly what the challenges of the 21st century would be, but they could see that demands on streams and lakes were growing, pollution was a problem, and they didn't want to lose their water resources.

Missouri streams still face lots of challenges, but thanks to the conservation sales tax, the state has programs to meet those challenges.

The Conservation Department received nearly $88 million from the conservation sales tax in fiscal year 2001. This was about 64 percent of the agency's total revenue. The state of Missouri's revenue total for fiscal 2001 was 17.3 billion, making the conservation sales tax approximately one half of 1 percent of total state revenues.

Brookfield Youth's Painting is Ducky

The artistic talent of a 17-year-old Brookfield native won her a trip to Washington, D.C. as part of the Youth Duck Stamp Art Contest sponsored by the Conservation Department.

Susan Bond's painting of a hooded merganser won first place in her age group and the best of show award in the Missouri state competition. It placed third nationally, earning her a spot in the national recognition event held by the program's national sponsor, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Former Conservation Deputy Director Dies

Edwin H. Glaser, former Conservation Department deputy director, died April 14 in Jefferson City at the age of 75.

Co-workers remember that Glaser's 40-year career with the Conservation Department was distinguished by hard work, diplomatic advocacy and a vision that helped shape conservation in the 20th century.

Glaser's career with the Conservation Department began in 1950. He left the Conservation Department for two years to teach forestry at Mississippi State University, but returned in 1956 to work as a farm forester. He was promoted and moved to the central office in Jefferson City in 1959, supervising fire control and later state forests and nurseries. He also helped develop a state outdoor recreation plan and worked on river management issues.

"Ed's career path took him into the environmental side of the job," said former Conservation Department Director Jerry Presley. "It was tough work on water quality and things that weren't always popular, but Ed was diplomatic and sensitive to people's feelings. He was a gentleman at all times, and people responded to that."

Bats Protected at Boone Cave

Missouri's newest gated community is also its most exclusive. Its subterranean homesites are reserved only for bats.

Boone Cave, on the Overton Bottoms Conservation Area near Rocheport, has traditionally provided critical habitat for endangered gray and Indiana bats, said Rick Clawson, wildlife research biologist for the Missouri Department of Conservation. In recent years, however, human activities in the cave have made it inhospitable to bats. To protect them from human disturbance, the Conservation Department, in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the American Cave Conservation Association, has erected an iron gate to keep people out while allowing safe passage in and out for bats.

"We're trying to restore the cave for gray bats to raise their babies here," Clawson said. "In terms of numbers, the gray bat maternity colony here numbered in the tens of thousands, and several hundred Indiana bats winter here. Grays still use it, but not to the extent they once did, and one of the reasons is that we haven't been able to reduce human disturbance."

This isn't the first time the cave has been gated. Ruins of an earlier gate stand farther back in the cave. It was built in 1996, but was destroyed by a flash flood a few weeks later.

The new gate is much sturdier. Its main piers are 10 feet apart and are anchored directly into bedrock. The crossbeams are made of angled iron and are reinforced with angle-iron inserts. A 20-foot open window at the top allows unobstructed access for bats. A "foul-ball" screen stretches four feet perpendicular to the top to keep people from climbing over.

"I doubt you could pull it down with a bulldozer," said Rod Powers, a private engineer who is supervising the construction of the gate.

Powers, who has built about eight such gates around the nation, is also associated with the American Cave Conservation Association. An ardent cave and bat enthusiast, he said that gated openings have helped increase bat activity in every cave where they have been used.

Including materials and labor, the total cost of the gate is about $60,000, said Jud Kneuvean, environmental resources specialist for the Corps of Engineers. Because it is being funded through the Missouri River Fish and Wildlife Mitigation Project, Conservation Department money is not being used.

"This project is 100-percent federally funded." Kneuvean said. "It's the largest gate of its kind."

One side benefit of the gate may be increased recreational access to this part of Overton Bottom Conservation Area. In the past, the Department has been reluctant to promote this area to avoid attracting visitors to the cave, Kneuvean said. Now that the cave is protected, the Corps and the Conservation Department are exploring options to improve public access.

- Bryan Hendricks

Grant Helps Develop River Fuel Station

Thanks to a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Cooper's Landing near Easley now offers marine fuel and septic system pump-out service. The Conservation Department administered the $52,000 grant from the Federal Aid in Fish Restoration Program. The D-J Fund, as it is commonly called, comes from federal taxes on fishing equipment and marine fuel. The FWS awarded the grant to make it easier and safer for anglers to use the fish resources of the Missouri River. The facility, which straddles Katy Trail State Park, also has camping, lodging, a general store and even a first-rate Thai restaurant. For more information, visit <www.cooperslanding.net>.

"Otter Man" Chambers among CFM honorees

"Otter Man" Glenn Chambers received double honors from the Conservation Federation of Missouri at the group's annual meeting in April. He was named the group's 2001 Conservationist of the Year and received its lifetime achievement award.

The retired Conservation Department biologist's and filmmaker's three-decade career has included internationally acclaimed wildlife research, cinematography and still photography. He is best known for his education programs that have taught people across the nation about the biology and habits of river otters.

Other Conservationist of the Year award recipients included Conservation Department Wildlife Management Biologist Jay Bowmaster (Wildlife Conservationist); Bass Pro Shops Corporate Public Relations Manager Larry Whiteley (Conservation Communicator), Skip Mourglia, owner of Heartland Forestry in Monett (Forest Conservationist), Conservation Department Natural History Regional Biologist Norman Murray (Professional Conservationist), University of Missouri-Columbia Professor Dr. John (Jack) Jones (Water Conservationist), Rolla teacher Christine Schmidgall (Conservation Educator), Wallace Moore Jr. of Springfield (Hunter Education Instructor), Reeds Springs High School senior Amber Sphonn (Youth Conservationist), and the Clarence Cannon Wholesale Water Commission (Conservation Organization).

MFA Wildlife Night in Ozark a Hit

Steve Gannon, Exchange Manager at the Ozark Town and Country MFA in Ozark, and Tricia Radford, Private Land Conservationist for the Missouri Department of Conservation, know that habitat found on farms is critical to wildlife. They also know that the opportunity to live close to nature is important to many farm families.

Recognizing the bond between farm owners and their land, Gannon and Radford launched Wildlife Night to help landowners choose management practices that enhance wildlife resources.

The large crowd of landowners who attended the event demonstrated the importance Missouri landowners place on wildlife resources. Participants heard about the latest MFA products and how to use wildlife food plot seed when managing wildlife habitat. Gannon spoke about how MFA can help landowners establish wildlife management plans that work with their farm operations.

Attendees also learned about bobwhite quail recovery efforts and how to create better deer, turkey, quail and small game habitat that would actually benefit their farm operations.

Partnerships between the Conservation Department and local businesses can offer farmers a chance to fine-tune management practices to meet their objectives in wildlife-friendly ways. Businesses benefit from getting information about their products and services to potential customers with practical information about how to use them.

Landowners who want to meet their production needs in ways beneficial to fish and wildlife resources can contact Private Land Conservationists at their local soil and water conservation district office. Or they can talk to local companies where they do business and ask for help organizing educational events similar to Wildlife Night.

If you are not a landowner, take an opportunity to thank one for housing and feeding the wildlife we all enjoy. - Bob Miller

Migratory Bird Hunters Need to be HIP

Do you plan to hunt doves, snipe, rail, woodcock, ducks, geese or other migratory birds this year? If so, don't forget to buy a Missouri Migratory Bird Hunting Permit ($6). Some hunters forget this permit, which replaced the old Migratory Bird Hunting Information Program card and state duck stamp. Without it, you can't legally hunt any migratory birds in Missouri.

Wet Spring Revives Trout Hatcheries

A wetter than normal spring has put the Conservation Department's trout hatcheries on the road to recovery, much to anglers' delight.

All four hatcheries, which supply fish for the state's four trout parks, faced grim situations going into the winter. A three-year drought had reduced the flow of springs that supply cold water for trout rearing to dangerously low levels. At some hatcheries, fish had to be moved. All four hatcheries were facing reduced production.

However, heavy rains in April boosted spring flows back to normal levels or higher. For example, the hatchery at Roaring River State Park needs at least 12 million gallons of spring water daily for normal operations. Last summer, the park's spring dwindled to a flow of just 5 million gallons per day, but this spring the flow bounced back to a high of 111 million gallons per day.

Maramec Spring Hatchery's flow jumped from 33 million gallons per day to 110 million gallons per day. The story was similar at Bennett Spring and Montauk state parks. Heavy rains at all four sites actually caused some problems, such as washed-out roads, flooded campgrounds and trees washed into streams. Hatchery managers aren't complaining, however.

Dam Owners Seek Solution to Fish Kills

Conditions at Lake of the Ozarks and Lake Springfield claimed hundreds of paddlefish in May and June.

The trouble started the week of May 19 on the Osage River below Bagnell Dam, which is operated by AmerenUE. Anglers reported seeing dead paddlefish weighing as much as 40 pounds. Some of the fish appeared to have been chopped up as they passed through power-generating turbines. Others had suffered injuries in swift, turbulent water below the dam's spillway. The problem continued as this issue of Missouri Conservationist went to press. The loss of paddlefish alone is already in the hundreds. An undetermined number of fish of other species also have died in the incident.

On June 4, anglers noticed paddlefish dying in the tailwaters of Lake Springfield. The dam, operated by the City of Springfield, does not use lake water to turn turbines. Instead, it uses the reservoir to cool a coal-fired power plant. During an unusually warm spell, the lake's water temperature climbed so high and the level of dissolved oxygen in the water dropped so low that fish couldn't survive. The toll included at least 88 paddlefish measuring as long as 48 inches from the eye to the fork of the tail, and about 200 fish of other species. The fish kill ended when rain and cooler weather lowered the lake's water temperature.

The Conservation Department is working with AmerenUE and the City of Springfield to find ways to prevent future fish kills.

Stream Teams top 2,000

After adopting Phelps County's Lane Spring in their hearts and minds, the DiGennaro family officially adopted the spring by signing up for the Missouri Stream Team program. The creation of the team was a milestone that increased to 2,000 the number of groups working to protect and improve Missouri waterways.

Stream Teams is a volunteer program that enables Missourians to get involved in stream conservation. The program sponsors, the Missouri departments of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Conservation Federation of Missouri, provide the training and technical support volunteers need to conduct a wide variety of stream maintenance and improvement projects.

Some Stream Teams conduct stream cleanups. Others monitor water quality. Stream Team No. 2,000 is a home-school group of about 15 members from Lenox, Mo., who use Lane Spring to study the environment.

"We signed up to learn what we could do to improve our stream," said Louise DiGennaro. "I believe we should leave the world a cleaner, more beautiful place than we found it. I'm hoping Stream Teams can help me make my children aware of the value of our streams and how their actions can impact streams. Finding out that we were the 2,000th team added to the excitement of becoming involved in the program."

Nearly 38,000 Missourians have joined Stream Teams since the program was established 12 years ago. Last year alone, the teams provided nearly $16 million worth of labor caring for streams.

For information on Stream Teams and how you can get involved, call (800) 781-1989.

New Smallmouth Guide

Missouri anglers have a new tool in their quest for the elusive smallmouth bass. "Ozark Smallmouth Bass Fishing 2002" is an easy-to-use, comprehensive guide to Conservation Department-managed smallmouth fishing areas in Missouri.

Designed as a fold-out map, it is portable enough to toss into a tackle box, yet detailed enough to guide anglers to new waters. The reverse side of the map explains regulations that apply on those areas and provides information about smallmouth identification and fishing techniques.

Copies are available from: Missouri Department of Conservation, Distribution Center, P.O. Box 180 Jefferson City MO 65102. You can also send your request by e-mail to <pubstaff@mail.mdc.mo.gov>, or call (573) 751-4115, ext. 3593. Ask for "Ozark Smallmouth Bass Fishing 2002," FIS 019. - Randy Noyes

Record Fish Nothing to Carp About

Tim Dernosek of Blue Springs caught a 55-pound, 1-ounce common carp with bowfishing tackle May 28 at Lake Lotawana. The fish exceeded the previous state record in the "Alternative Methods" category by nearly 20 pounds. The previous record came from the same lake in May 1999.

The Conservation Department keeps separate records for fish caught with hand-held poles and those taken by alternative methods, including bowfishing, trotlines, limb lines, jug lines and other methods. The pole-and-line record for common carp is 50 pounds, 6 ounces. That fish came from Rothwell Park Lake in 1996.

For details about the state-record fish program, visit the Conservation Department web site.

Native Plants Stand Up to the Dog Days

Summer heat and drought can be rough on colorful gardens, but native flowers, shrubs and trees are up to the challenge.

Purple poppy mallow (Callirhoe involucrata) is a drought-tolerant, trailing native that produces dozens of showy, magenta flowers from June until first frost. It makes a beautiful ground cover when accented with tall clumps of sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula). This native warm-season grass sports narrow, blue-gray leaves. Birds and small mammals eat the reddish flowers that dangle along one side of slender stems in summer. The foliage turns gold in fall.

Native trees and shrubs that do well in hot, dry spots include black haw viburnum (Viburnum prunifolium). It produces flat heads of white flowers in spring, followed by purple-black fruit, which birds eat. The leaves develop beautiful red fall color. Another adaptable native is New Jersey tea (Ceanothus americanus). This compact, 3- to 4-foot tall shrub billows with delicate white flowers in May and June. Birds come to eat its clusters of small black fruit in July. It grows easily on rocky soil.

To learn more about landscape-worthy native plants, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Grow Native! P.O. Box 104671, Jefferson City, MO 65110. - Natalia Hamill

Apply in September for Waterfowl Hunting Reservations

Waterfowl hunters can apply for reservations at 16 managed wetland areas in Missouri 24 hours a day, seven days a week from Sept. 6 through Sept. 22 by calling (800) 829-2956.

All you need to make reservations is your conservation identification number from your hunting permit or Conservation Heritage Card. If you don't know your conservation ID number, you can get it from any hunting permit vendor statewide. The application process goes more smoothly if you obtain the hunt number for your chosen waterfowl area at the above-mentioned Web site.

Results of the reservation drawing will be available at the same phone number and internet site beginning Oct. 4. Again, you will need your conservation ID number.

Missouri River Relief Branches Out

Missouri River Relief, a volunteer effort to put Missourians back in touch with their namesake river and make it a cleaner, more pleasant place to visit, will branch out this year, expanding the cleanup effort to two sites.

More than 550 volunteers in last year's cleanup between Rocheport and Hartsburg removed tons of rubber tires, major appliances and other trash. Most of the material was recycled.

This year's first event also will be in central Missouri. On Sept. 28, volunteers will tackle trash along the 25-mile stretch of river from Easley to Jefferson City. Volunteers will meet at Busch's Landing and begin work at 10 a.m. When work ends at 5 p.m., volunteers can enjoy music and speakers at Busch's Landing near Hartsburg. Vendors will be on hand to sell food.

The second event will be from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Oct. 12 with headquarters at Frontier Park in St. Charles. Music and speakers will be available for visitors at the park all day, while volunteers haul trash.

The Conservation Department and other sponsors will provide boats and work gloves for volunteers. To sign up for either event, call (573) 442-5699 or send e-mail to <riverrelief@riverrelief.org>.

Turkey Federation Drops a Dime on Poachers

If there's anything law-abiding hunters hate, it's poachers, so conservation agents weren't surprised when the Missouri Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation offered them $14,000 to put turkey poachers in the Ozarks out of business.

The NWTF paid for specialized equipment and helped pay for hundreds of hours of overtime. Agents gathered intelligence through undercover operatives before the spring turkey season. As the season approached, agents took to the air in helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. They focused night-vision goggles and infrared sensors on potential trouble spots. They put out turkey decoys and staked out sites where they knew poachers were baiting turkeys.

By the time spring turkey season opened, they already had made 26 arrests. On the second day of the season, they conducted road checks to catch poachers who hunted without permits or killed more than their limit of turkeys.

In all, the operation netted 58 arrests. Poachers paid more than $16,000 in fines, which go to support local school systems. Some of the violators lost their hunting privileges. One repeat offender was sentenced to jail time and lost his hunting privileges for a year.

Trappers Gather Sept. 20-22

The Missouri Trappers Association will hold its annual meeting Sept. 20-22 at the Antique Fairgrounds at Lathrop. More information is available from Ralph B. Kelsick, (573) 593-4796.

RV Show Set for Sept. 6-8

Join other recreational vehicle enthusiasts at the 13th annual St. Louis Fall RV Show Sept. 6-8 and get a look at the latest in Class A motor homes, travel trailers, fifth-wheel trailers, folding campers, sport trailers, miniature motor homes, conversion vans and van campers.The event is at the Westfield Shoppingtown Mid Rivers off I-70 at St. Peters. Hours are 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. Sept. 6 and 7 and 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. Sept. 8. For more information, call (314) 355-1236.

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