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Hoskins Takes Conservation Helm

John D. Hoskins, the Conservation Department's new director, says the biggest challenge facing conservation in the 21st century is isolation.

Hoskins, 48, was sworn in July 1 as the seventh director of the Missouri Department of Conservation before a crowd of more than 100 in Jefferson City. Judge R. Jack Garrett, presiding over Missouri's 37th Judicial Circuit Court, administered the oath of office. Garrett became acquainted with Hoskins when the new director was a conservation agent in the Ozarks.

In remarks following his swearing in, Hoskins noted three kinds of isolation that threaten Missouri's conservation program. The first is isolation of citizens from conservation concerns. He acknowledged that Missouri's population is concentrated in urban and suburban areas, where contact with nature is limited.

"The reality is, the Design for Conservation owes its history to Missouri city-folk," Hoskins said. "These people, perhaps better than anyone else, knew the importance of our outdoor world to the health of the soul and body... This Department must work harder and harder to be sure that we keep conservation in the hearts and minds of our urban and suburban citizens."

Second, Hoskins mentioned isolation of the Conservation Department's mission from conservation. As the agency's job grows more complex, he said, there is a danger of losing sight of its most important goals. Demands on Conservation Department land and other resources include requests to conduct concerts, contests, festivals, photo shoots, weddings, balloon races, paint-ball battles, battle reenactments, auto shows, military training, model rocketry, alternative life-style gatherings, geo-caching and other activities. Hoskins said the Conservation Department must acknowledge change while remaining true to its traditional mission and supporters.

Finally, Hoskins said there is a danger of the Conservation Department's staff becoming isolated from conservation. He noted that the agency now employs people in 350 occupational specialties. This diversity, while necessary to adapt to changing times, carries the risk that the agency's conservation identity will be lost among engineers, attorneys, magazine editors, business system managers and others who focus narrowly on their specialties. He said this risk is heightened by the imminent retirement of a generation of professionals who have carried the conservation torch since Missouri put its "Design for Conservation" into action.

Hoskins said the Conservation Department needs to improve the management of its lands, urban conservation programs and assistance to landowners. He also mentioned the importance of addressing problems related to managing bobwhite quail and white-tailed deer.

"It is vital that we communicate to the people - our customers - in a positive and forthright manner," he said. "Our work must inspire citizens and communities to become engaged in conservation, and we must build a generation of conservation leaders for the new century. Capturing the imagination and support of a young and diverse constituency is perhaps the greatest of our conservation challenges."Hoskins succeeds Jerry Conley, who retired after five and a half years as Conservation Department director. Preceding directors, in order of their service were I. T. Bode, William E. Towell, Carl R. Noren, Larry R. Gale and Jerry J. Presley.

Hunters Solve Deer Problem in Connecticut Town

As America's deer populations increase, communities all over the United States are suffering from too much of a good thing. Overpopulated deer herds defoliate subdivisions, damage crops and cars, cause fatal auto accidents and create public health problems.

What to do? Residents of Mumford Cove, Conn., decided it was time to act when ticks thriving on the town's burgeoning deer population began to spread Lyme disease among the town's human inhabitants. They eliminated Mumford Cove's no-hunting ordinance, waived local firearms-discharge limitations and worked with the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection to design a safe, effective shotgun and archery hunting program.

Those hunting in the community had to pass a rigorous shooting proficiency test and hunt from elevated stands in carefully selected locations. Dense patches of cover were actively disturbed to make more deer visible to hunters. The hunts were short but intense.

Six days of hunting reduced the deer herd by 92 percent.

Prairie Day Set for Sept. 21

Prairie Day 2002 will be held Sept. 21 at Shaw Reserve in Gray Summit. The reserve's 150-acre, tallgrass prairie will provide a perfect setting for prairie-related nature walks, pioneer games, music, storytelling, living history programs and craft demonstrations. The event runs from 10 a.m. through 4 p.m. Admission is $3 per adult. Admission is free for members of the Missouri Botanical Garden, Nature Reserve pass holders and children under 12.

Special Forest Products Conference Benefits Landowners

A conference on marketing special forest products will give landowners a chance to learn how to earn income, other than by growing trees for timber, from woodlands.

The conference, sponsored by the Missouri University for Agroforestry, will take place Oct. 25 and 26 in Cape Girardeau. Included will be information about producing and marketing mushrooms, tree and shrub seeds, medicinal herbs, wildflowers, craft materials, wild edibles, custom sawing and specialty woods. Registration costs $75, and the registration deadline is Oct. 14. For more information, contact Julie Rhoads, University of Missouri, 203 ABNR Building, Columbia, MO 65211, (573) 882-3234, <rhoadsj@missouri.edu>.

Habitat Hints: Leaky lake solutions

Next to excessive vegetation, the most common pond problem is water loss. This can be due to slow seepage or catastrophic loss through a hole in the dam.

If your dam fails, the only solution is to build a better one. Don't set yourself up to repeat the disaster by duplicating the first dam. The Conservation Department's "Missouri Pond Handbook" provides advice about how to do it right.

Many ponds experience decreased water levels during the summer and fall. However, if your pond is always low, you may have a problem that needs attention. The most common cause of pond leaks is tree roots penetrating the dam. You can avoid this by periodically cutting all trees with trunks 3 inches or smaller. Leave larger trees. Cutting them will cause their roots to decay, leaving fissures through which water can escape.

Another common cause of leaks is a faulty dam. Earthen dams with too little clay may be porous, allowing slow leakage through coarse soil particles. The surest cure is rebuilding the dam. Sometimes you can stop leakage by applying bentonite, a special kind of clay that seals holes by expanding to twice its dry volume when it absorbs water.

Bentonite is available from well drilling supply companies or farm co-ops. Its use is explained in "The Problem of Leaky Ponds." This booklet, along with the "Missouri Pond Handbook" and other publications in the Aquaguide series, are available on request from Conservation Department regional offices.

President Kicks Off Lewis & Clark Bicentennial

At a White House ceremony on July 3, President George W. Bush launched the celebration of the 200th anniversary of Meriwether Lewis's and William Clark's epic Corps of Discovery.

"I urge all Americans to learn more about Lewis and Clark and how the expedition changed our nation," Bush said, "and at the same time, to learn more about our native culture, to learn more about courage and the values that continue to shape our nation today."

While the most important part of their journey commenced in Missouri, the Corps of Discovery actually began its trip by descending the Ohio River in 1803. The national bicentennial observance will span three years. Missouri plans to pull out all the stops to make the most of the event's educational, recreational and economic potential. The Conservation Department is taking an active role, supporting efforts ranging from school programs to the creation of replicas of the boats that carried the Corps of Discovery three-quarters of the way to the Pacific Ocean and back. Watch these pages for information about events.

Bear Visits Jefferson County

Reports of bear sightings from several locations in Jefferson County convinced Conservation Department officials that a black bear visited the area in June.

According to both reports, the bear weighed 100-120 pounds and wore a yellow tag in each ear. A bear matching that description was reported in St. Francois County a few days later. Missouri and its bordering states do not mark bears in that manner, prompting speculation that it may have been an escaped captive bear.

Black bears are normally shy of humans and seldom cause problems. When they do, it is most often because they raid bird feeders, bee hives or livestock food. Removing food sources is usually enough to convince bears to move on.

Dove hunt for Disabled Hunters Set for Sept. 8

The National Wild Turkey Federation's Wheelin' Sportsmen program will hold its second annual dove hunt at Ten Mile Pond Conservation Area Sept. 8. Physically challenged sportsmen are paired with federation volunteers for assistance and bird retrieval in this half-day dove hunt. You need not be a member to participate. For more information, call L.L. Neal, (573) 334-4942.

Missouri Waterfowl Association Banquet is Oct. 12

The first Missouri Waterfowl Association banquet will be held Oct. 12 at the Boone County Fairgrounds. The event will have silent and regular auctions, raffles, games and a presentation.

The year-old MWA jumped right into waterfowl conservation work, distributing 9,000 pounds of food plot seed for landowners around the state. This reflects the group's emphasis on action in members' home areas.

The banquet is the same day as the Missouri Waterfowl Extravaganza, which is also at the Boone County Fairgrounds. For more information, contact Scott Bell at (573) 636-8723, sbell@sfcc.cc.mo.us.

Hostelling International Offers 14th Ozarks Trail Trek

You can explore the spectacular landscapes of the Ozark Trail with some of Missouri's most accomplished backpackers Oct. 12-19 during the 14th annual Ozark Trail Trek.

Sponsored by Hostelling International/American Youth Hostels and the Ozark Trail Council, the event joins novices with seasoned veterans. October's cool, sunny days and crisp nights are perfect for enjoying fall colors and the rugged beauty of the Lake Wappapello and Victory Lake sections of the Ozark Trail.

The cost for members is $90 for half a week or $180 for a week. Nonmembers pay $100 or $200. The price includes transportation from St. Louis, guides, a T-shirt, an Ozark Trail patch, motel accommodations and the evening meal Oct. 12. Half of the proceeds of the event go to Ozark Trail upkeep.

For more information, contact Gateway Council HI/AYA, 7187 Manchester Road, St. Louis, MO 63143. Phone (314) 644-4660. E-mail: <info@gatewayhiayn.org>.

Reviving Urban Streams

Everyone knows how a rural creek looks. It has shady, tree-lined banks, shallow riffles and deep pools of clear, cool water. It provides places where kids can wade to catch frogs and crawdads, and places where anglers can fish.

Now picture a city creek. Chances are you think of a bare concrete ditch with no shade, scummy water and no wildlife. No one in their right mind would eat anything that came from it.

What's saddest about today's urban streams is that they don't have to be that way. There is a way to keep the environmental and recreational benefits of streams in cities. The way is urban watershed best management practices - BMPs for short.

Reduced to their simplest terms, BMPs are about:

  • Buffers - strips of vegetation that slow runoff and filter out mud and pollutants. Buffers stabilize stream banks, eliminating the need for concrete. They also make streams pleasant for people and livable for fish, birds and other wildlife.
  • Flood plains - low-lying, minimally developed land where rising water can spread out harmlessly, and where people can plant gardens and play baseball or soccer when it is not flooded. Flood plains contribute to a better quality of life for area residents. Furthermore, they are inexpensive to maintain. In contrast, buildings built in flood plains require expensive levees to thwart damage from periodic flooding.
  • Retention ponds and wetlands - designed to catch and hold rainwater that runs off rapidly from surrounding roofs, streets and parking lots. Besides preventing costly floods, these features catch silt and other material that otherwise would smother stream life and clog urban creeks. They also create fishing and other recreational opportunities.
  • Berms, grassed waterways and silt fences - These and other erosion- and sediment-control structures provide further protection for urban creeks and reduce flood threats.
  • Sewage treatment - Inadequately treated wastewater threatens human health and kills desirable wildlife species. Upgrading treatment facilities allows communities to reclaim streams that have been made unhealthy by pollution.
  • Conservation Site Design - Careful design in new developments can reduce storm water run-off, minimizing negative effects on streams and the people who use them.
  • Comprehensive Planning - When planning includes environmental and aesthetic factors, the process can yield enormous long-term benefits. These benefits include preserving key resources, such as streams, unique natural areas, wetlands and floodplains. Zoning ordinances, subdivision regulations, impact fees and incentive bonuses can be used to protect resources. Such planning should redirect development from environmentally sensitive areas into more suitable locales. BMPs should be incorporated into the local zoning, subdivision and development regulations.

The most important thing citizens can do is to voice their preference for natural resource protection to their city leaders and employees. If your community is in the St. Louis or Kansas City metropolitan regions and is interested in these issues, the Conservation Department can provide assistance through its urban watershed conservation personnel.

- Perry W. Eckhardt, Urban Watershed Conservationist

Teens Win Against Litter

"No MOre Trash!," a statewide campaign for a litter-free Missouri, recently named two $200 prize winners in its new video contest for Missourians ages 16 to 22. Winning entries were submitted by Stratton Tingle of Cape Girardeau and the St. Louis-area team of Matthew Brimer, Paul Nauert and Lorenzo D'Aubert.

Stratton Tingle, a film production major at Southern Adventist University in Chattanooga, Tenn., learned about the contest while taking a broadcasting class at Vocational Technical School in Cape Girardeau. His entry is a humorous take of a newscaster being pelted with trash while reporting litter problems.

Brimer, Nauert and D'Aubert produced "A Message from Thomas Jefferson," a 30-second video in which the author of the Declaration of Independence and our nation's third president complained that the Boston Tea Party created too much litter.

"Making a movie is really a group effort," said Nauert, who first alerted his friends to the contest after learning about it at Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center. "We didn't find out about the contest until a week before the first deadline, so we got together the day school ended, then wrote, videotaped and edited the project in less than two days."

"We started the video contest to give younger Missourians a chance to create their own messages against litter," said Lorna Domke, campaign coordinator from the Missouri Department of Conservation, which launched the campaign in partnership with the Missouri Department of Transportation. The contest continues, with the next round of entries due by October 31.

"The ad should target a teen audience," said Stacy Armstrong who, along with Melissa Black, coordinates the campaign for the Transportation Department. "Anyone younger than 16 can enter, but they'll be competing against older students."

Entries from teams or individuals are also welcome.

Entries (in VHS, digital video or other formats) should be sent to: Lorna Domke/No MOre Trash!, 2901 W. Truman Blvd., Jefferson City, MO 65109. For more information on the campaign or contest or to view the winning videos, visit www.nomoretrash.org.

Reward Offered in Eagle Killing Case

If you have information about the killing of a bald eagle June 9, you could qualify for a hefty cash reward. A mature bald eagle was found dead near the intersection of Highways 67 and 34 in Wayne County. It appeared to have been shot in the head. Evidence indicates it died between 7:15 and 7:20 that morning. If you have information about the incident, you can call (800) 392-1111 to make an anonymous report. The Operation Game Thief program, sponsored by the Conservation Federation of Missouri and the Conservation Department, offers rewards for tips that lead to convictions.

Duck Numbers Still Down

Continued drought in the northern United States and Canada has led to disappointing waterfowl reproduction for the third year in a row.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports that the number of breeding pairs of mallards was essentially unchanged from 2001 and is about the same as the long-term average. The news was worse for most other duck species. Pintail numbers were down 46 percent from last year and 58 percent lower than the long-term average. Gadwall breeding numbers slipped 17 percent from 2001, but were up 37 percent from the long-term. Breeding numbers of all duck species were down 14 percent from 2001 and were 6 percent lower than the long-term average.

A 27-percent drop in blue-winged teal breeding pairs from last year prompted federal officials to announce a conservative, 9-day September season. That is a week shorter than teal season has been for the past four years.

While the news about this year's duck production is discouraging to hunters, who have supported the most extensive wetland restoration effort in history, experts say there is reason for optimism. Duck numbers always suffer when inevitable droughts parch their nesting grounds. But a lack of water doesn't negate habitat restoration work. In fact, droughts actually have some beneficial effects. Cattails and other wetland vegetation thrive when basins dry out. This extra vegetation improves habitat when the rains return.

With the return of normal rain and snowfall, wetland acreage will expand, and waterfowl numbers will climb again. Some parts of Canada and the northern United States received rain in mid-June, after breeding-bird surveys were complete. This could boost production slightly.

Education Conference Focuses on Environment

Connecting education and the environment is the goal of the Seventh Annual Conference on Environmental Education Nov. 22-24.

The theme for the event is "Stepping Stones - Linking Education and the Environment." The event will highlight teachers and non-formal educators who are making a positive difference in student achievement. Activities will include more than 40 hands-on workshops and field trips. Keynote speaker Kim Stokely, with the national Adopt-A-Watershed program, will tell how to meld conservation and education. For more information, call 573-751-4115, ext. 3899.

Rudolph Bennitt Lake Opens to Fishing

Rudolf Bennitt Lake is open for fishing, offering a wide array of opportunities.

The 48-acre lake is at Rudolf Bennitt Conservation Area, 30 miles northwest of Columbia. The Conservation Department stocked the lake in 1999 with largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, crappie and channel catfish, but the lake has been closed to fishing due to construction and to allow fingerling fish to grow to catchable size. Lake facilities include a disabled-accessible boat ramp, fishing dock, privy and parking lot. Fishing regulations are posted at the area. They include a 12- to 15-inch slot length limit on bass. The lake is open to pole-and-line fishing and only trolling motors are allowed. For more information, call (573) 884- 6861.

Mad About Mushrooms?

If you're mad about mushrooms, you might want to join members of the Missouri Mycological Society for their annual Mingo Mushroom Foray at Mingo National Wildlife Refuge Sept. 12-15. For more information contact Charlie Raiser, <charlieraiser@aol.com>, (314) 821-6768.

Walk/run Aids Endangered Species

Whether you run, walk or stroll, you'll get a designer T-shirt for taking part in the fourth annual Endangered Species Walk/Run Oct. 19 on the KATY Trail.

The event will include a 10K run and a 5K walk/run starting at 9 a.m. Event headquarters will be at the North Jefferson City Pavilion, at the intersection of highways 63 and 54. Participants will receive long-sleeve T-shirts featuring artwork by Conservation Department artist Mark Raithel. The artwork portrays species of conservation concern that live in prairies, the natural community highlighted at this year's race.

Money raised will go to the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation. The foundation will channel the money into habitat restoration, research and education projects.

Registration costs $15 for adults and $10 for children 11 and younger. Forms are available from Endangered Species Walk/Run, Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180, phone (573) 751-4115, ext. 3807.

KC Man Takes Safari Club Leadership Role

Kevin Anderson of Kansas City will serve a one-year term on the board of directors of Safari Club International. He will represent Missouri's 670 SCI members. The club is a nonprofit organization that promotes wildlife conservation, education about the outdoors, hunters' rights and humanitarian services.

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