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USE Communities get federal grants

Gov. Bob Holden recently announced that 18 Missouri communities will receive more than $1.6 million in federal grants for parks and recreation. The grants are part of the Land and Water Conservation Fund program, which is designed to help city, county and state governments or school districts buy and develop or renovate outdoor recreation facilities.

Grants were awarded through a competitive process administered by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Recipient agencies are required to provide a 55-percent match. Some of the communities receiving grants are:

  • The City of Alton, $150,000 for park acquisition and development.
  • Bakersfield R-IV Schools, $150,000 for park acquisition and development.
  • City of Gladstone, $32,490 for Happy Rock Trail renovation.
  • City of Lee's Summit, $150,000 for Eagle Creek acquisition and trail development.
  • Platte County, $150,000 for Platte Ridge Park development.
  • City of Raytown, $149,850 for C. Lee Kenagy Park improvements.
  • City of Republic, $26,163 for J.R. Martin Park Trail.
  • City of Republic, $26,615 for Miller Park Trail.
  • St. Louis County, $150,000 for Greensfelder Park Trail.
  • City of St. Robert, $53,100 for park renovation
  • City of Trenton, $41,218 for Eastside Park Trail extension.

Information about the grant program is available from the Department of Natural Resources, (800) 334-6946 (TDD#(800) 379-2419) or online at <www.mostateparks.com/grantinfo.htm>.

Arbor Day poster contest

Trees are Terrific and Energy Wise!" That's the theme for the 2005 National Arbor Day poster contest. Missouri fifth-graders will vie for a cash prize and the chance to compete in the national contest.

The Conservation Department sends packets with contest details to art teachers statewide. Any fifth-grade teacher can obtain a packet by contacting Donna Baldwin, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102, <donna.baldwin@mdc.mo.gov>. The deadline for state contest submissions is Feb. 18.

The state winner will receive a $50 savings bond and a 6- to 12-foot tree to be planted on their school grounds. The national winner will receive a $1,000 savings bond and a trip to the National Arbor Day Foundation in Nebraska City, Neb.

Shrubs and Woody Vines book complements tree volume

If you have the Conservation Department book Trees of Missouri, you'll probably be interested in its companion book, Shrubs and Woody Vines of Missouri.

Text by author Don Kurz and detailed, black-and-white illustrations by artist Paul Nelson describe 25 native shrubs, 32 native woody vines, 18 exotic shrubs and six exotic woody vines.

The 388-page coffee table book helps you identify, care for and propagate native shrubs and vines. It also provides tips on which are best for attracting butterflies, birds and other wildlife. Shrubs and Woody Vines of Missouri is available at conservation nature centers and regional Conservation Department offices. Order electronically at <www.mdcnatureshop.com>, or by calling toll-free (877) 521-8632. Ask for item No. 01-0135 (softbound, $16.50 plus tax and shipping) or 01-0136 (hard cover, $21.50 plus tax and shipping).

YOUTH DEER HUNTS POPULAR

During the two-day 2003 youth segment of the firemarms deer season, 9,054 Missouri youngsters harvested deer. Most hunters bagged their first deer. A few young hunters, like Nevan Woehr of Rich Fountain, took a trophy they'll remember their entire life.

Natural Events Calendar on sale now

The 2005 Natural Events Calendar is on sale now at Conservation Nature Centers and regional Conservation Department offices statewide.

The calendar contains stunning photographs of a wide range of Missouri native birds, fish, mammals, plants and landscapes. This year's assortment includes an azure-bellied fence lizard, a gossamer luna moth, an albino groundhog, and trees and bluffs cloaked in ice. The June photo of a tiny bobcat kitten trying to negotiate a rocky ledge is sure to end up behind glass in many homes, along with the May photo of orange-skinned and tassel-headed bluebird hatchlings emerging from sky-blue eggs.

The calendar features daily entries that provide insights into what's happening in the natural world. Witch hazel blooming, bald eagle nesting, goldfinch molting, salamander breeding, walleye spawning, the arrival of purple martins and ruby-throated hummingbirds, and celestial events, such as meteor showers, all have places in the calendar.

The calendar costs $5, plus tax and shipping. Because supplies are limited, it's better to order early. To order, call toll-free (877) 521-8632, or write to The Nature Shop, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102. You can also order online at <www.mdcnatureshop.com/>.

CAT BORN UNDER A WANDERING STAR

Recent confirmed cases of mountain lions in Missouri have raised the question of where they came from. A clue may be found in the recent case of a 2.5-year-old male mountain lion killed in May by a train in northeastern Oklahoma. A radio collar around the 114-pound cat's neck allowed wildlife officials to trace it back to the Black Hills area of eastern Wyoming. It traveled more than 660 miles from where biologists last detected its radio signal.

Missouri youths win wildlife art contests

A St. James youth has won the federal Junior Duck Stamp Competition, and three siblings from Pittsburg, Mo., pulled off a clean sweep of the Missouri State Fish Art Contest.

Adam Nisbett, 17, won the 2004-2005 national duck stamp art contest sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. His winning entry, titled "Morning Watch," is an acrylic painting showing a pair of fulvous whistling ducks standing in a marsh.

Nisbett receives a $4,000 scholarship and an expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., for himself, a parent and his teacher. Nisbett is home-schooled by his parents. His art teacher is his mother, Kim Nisbett.

The 2004-2005 Federal Junior Duck Stamp is now on sale to collectors and conservationists at post offices nationwide for $5. Proceeds support environmental education.

Three other home-schooled children swept the 2004 State Fish Art Contest sponsored by Wildlife Forever. Teal Jenkins, age 11, and her sisters Brie, 13, and Tiara, 16, along with their parents, Mel and Lila Jenkins, traveled to Minneapolis, Minn., in June to receive awards for their paintings. They also went fishing and attended a Minnesota Twins baseball game as guests of Wildlife Forever. Their mother and teacher, Lila Jenkins, said she wasn't exactly surprised to learn all three of her daughters had won the national contest. "They put a lot of effort into it," she said. "You don't necessarily expect to win, but we were hopeful."

Each of the contest programs offers free instructional materials for teachers. For more information, visit <http://duckstamps.fws.gov or www.statefishart.com>.

NO GLASS BOTTLES ON STREAMS

It's now illegal to take glass-bottled beverages in a canoe, kayak, float tube or any other easily tipped vessel on Missouri streams. Missouri Statute 306.325, enacted by the Missouri Legislature earlier this year, also requires floaters to use coolers or other similar containers sealed to keep the contents from spilling. The same law requires floaters to bring a bag or other trash container and take all their trash to a proper disposal receptacle when they leave the stream. Failure to do so is a class C misdemeanor.

Monuments honor conservation stalwarts

You won't find the names L.T. "Corky" Wilder and Earl L. Lutes in a history book, but in Bollinger County, their legacies loom large on the landscape. That's why the two have been memorialized with monuments at the Conservation Department's Southeast Regional Headquarters building in Cape Girardeau.

Lutes, who died in 2001 at age 74, started his career with the Conservation Department in 1947 as a towerman in Marble Hill. He stayed there with the Forestry Division for 45 years, making him the longest-tenured Conservation Department worker at the time of his retirement.

Wilder died in 1997 at age 68. His career as a conservation agent stretched 31 years, from 1957 to 1988.

The two became inseparable as friends and co-workers. Whether fighting fires or poachers, they were tireless in the service of conservation.

Lutes' son, Tim, who paid for the monuments, recalls that "People in the community used to say that they thought both of them slept with their clothes on because of how quick they would show up when you called them."

Power for Wildlife charges up partners

To benefit wildlife on utility easements, a new cooperative effort is uniting landowners, utility companies, the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) and the Missouri Department of Conservation.

This program, called "Power for Wildlife," began in the spring of 2002, when Conservation Department private lands specialists Clint Dalbom and Allan Branstetter came up with the idea of cutting trees farther away from electric transmission lines, leaving the downed trees to create cover for wildlife, then planting low-growing food plots on the easements.

Besides making rights-of-way better for wildlife, these activities make them easier to maintain and service.

With $10,000 support from the Missouri NWTF's Superfund program and administrative help from the Conservation Department, Power for Wildlife was born.

Dalbom and Branstetter tested the concept with a pilot project on Mark Freeman's land in Texas County. At Freeman's request, the local electric utility company widened the right-of-way by cutting trees and leaving them on the ground to create a wide, brushy border between woodlands and the open ground beneath power lines. Discing and seeding with low-growing, warm season grasses, legumes and other food-producing plants made the area a wildlife magnet. Adding a pond completed the job of turning otherwise unusable acreage into a haven for quail, turkey, songbirds and small game. The wildlife benefits extended as much as half a mile on either side of the right-of-way.

With the pilot project complete, Dalbom and Branstetter held a field day to let other landowners see their ideas in action. Thirty-two enthusiastic landowners in Texas, Dent and Shannon counties applied to join the project. The Conservation Department and the NWTF helped with cost-sharing programs.

For more information on how to start a Power For Wildlife program in your area, contact the nearest Missouri Department of Conservation office or your local utility. -- Leslie Peterson

LIGHT DISCING HELPS BOBWHITES

Landowners who want to see more bobwhite quail and other ground-nesting birds on their grassland acres can accomplish their goals by lightly discing their ground.

Pastures with thick, matted grasses might as well be the Great Wall of China to newly hatched quail, which are not much bigger than bumblebees. Opening up pastures to let quail in takes periodic work. This is true whether the forage crop is a cool-season grass, such as fescue, or native, warm-season grasses, such as bluestem and Indian grass.

One way to remove accumulated growth is to run a disc over fields just enough to create lots of scratches in the turf. The idea is to leave about half of the soil exposed. This might require two or three passes with a disc where growth is especially thick.

How much pasture you disc--and where--depends on your overall land-management goals. To improve quail habitat in a working pasture, you can disc edge strips near other key elements of quail habitat, such as brushy cover, bare ground, row crops and water. If you use prescribed burns to manage your pasture, discing can provide fire lines and improve quail habitat at field edges.

For maximum benefit to quail, create wildlife food plots with wheat or sorghum, and disk grass on adjacent contour strips.

Discing one-third of pastures each year ensures continuous availability of land with a protective canopy of grasses overhead, and enough open ground below for quail to hunt for insects and seeds.

Be sure to check seasonal restrictions on discing fields enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).

CASH AVAILABLE TO DEVELOP OUTDOOR CLASSROOMS

The Missouri Department of Conservation provides Show-Me Conservation Outdoor Classroom Grants for Missouri educators. Grants of up to $1,000 are available to public, private or parochial schools interested in developing or enhancing outdoor learning sites on or near school grounds.

The program promotes interdisciplinary, hands-on instruction outdoors and fosters knowledge and conservation of native wildlife and wildlife habitat.

Applications are due March 18, 2005. Approved projects must be completed by May 10, 2006. For application forms, visit <www.missouriconservation.org/teacher/outdoor>, or contact Syd Hime, (573) 522-4115, ext. 3370.

Lunker redhorse is new state record

A 5-pound, 1.7-ounce redhorse sucker taken from the Niangua River in June obliterated the previous record for that species. Henry Glass of Tunas caught the 23.5-inch fish with a rod and reel. His catch more than doubled the previous record, a 2-pound, 3-ounce fish taken from the Meramec River in 1995. For more information about fishing records, visit <www.missouriconservation.org/fish/records/>.

Dog killer faces hard time

A Maries County man who shot four hunting dogs served 40 days in jail for the deed. The man was convicted in Phelps County Circuit Court on four counts of animal abuse. He was ordered to pay court costs and jail keep, which totaled $769.50.

The charges stemmed from a January 2002, incident in which rabbit dogs strayed onto the shooter's property. The dog killer found himself in court a second time in a civil suit filed by the dogs' owners. He ended up paying them $6,500 in damages.

Missouri's largest private landowners make pioneering donation

Leo and Kay Drey, who were profiled in the November, 2003 issue of the Missouri Conservationist, have donated Pioneer Forest, the largest private landholding in Missouri, to the L-A-D Foundation. The donation includes more than 146,000 acres in six counties and was appraised at about $180 million.

Mr. Drey established Pioneer Forest in 1951. He used the land to develop and demonstrate sustainable logging practices. L-A-D President John Karel says the foundation will carry on Dreys' legacy, preserving the forest while creating forest products and jobs.

AGENT NOTEBOOK

While patrolling in Reynolds County during firearms deer season, I saw a deer hunter sitting against a tree across a field. I walked along the edge of the field to contact the hunter to check his deer tag.

While still a long distance away from the hunter, I could see him turning around to look at me. I also saw him raising something I assumed were binoculars each time he looked at me.

When I reached the hunter and identified myself as a Conservation Agent, he told me he knew who I was because he had looked at me through his scope. Few things are as unnerving as knowing someone had been pointing a rifle in your direction. I checked his permit and firearm, and then we discussed the issue of the unsafe use of his scope.

In hunter education, we teach future hunters never to point a firearm at anything they don't intend to shoot. Using the scope of a rifle like you would use binoculars breaks all the rules of safe hunting and could easily lead to a hunting accident. Before looking through your scope at anything that is not a game animal--a house, car or another hunter--think of how you might feel if someone had their crosshairs on you.

Hunting can be rewarding and fun, but don't let the thrill of harvesting game take precedence over being a safe hunter. The best way to enjoy the upcoming hunting seasons is to think of safety first.--Michael Suttmoeller

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