The Genesis of Conservation in Missouri

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Published on: Jan. 2, 2005

Last revision: Nov. 17, 2010

the "father of modern conservation," noted that this zeal seemed to burn most intensely in Missouri.

Speaking at a gathering in 1947, he said: "Conservation, at bottom, rests on the conviction that there are things in this world more important than dollar signs and ciphers. Many of these other things attach to the land, and to the life that is on it and in it. People who know these other things have been growing scarcer, but less so in Missouri than elsewhere. That is why conservation is possible here. If conservation can become a living reality, it can do so in Missouri. This is because Missourians, in my opinion, are not completely industrialized in mind and spirit, and I hope never will be."

The Conservation Federation's growth confirmed Leopold's opinion. From the original 75 members, the Federation's ranks grew to the tens of thousands. It became known as "the strong right arm of conservation."

CFM's Resource Committees

The Conservation Federation maintains standing committees to serve the following interests.

  • Archery & Bow Hunting
  • Environment & Land Use
  • Firearms, Hunter Safety & Sportsmen's Rights
  • Fisheries & Water Resources
  • Furbearers & Small Game
  • Natural History & Wildlands
  • Conservation Education & Youth Activities
  • Deer & Wild Turkey
  • Forestry
  • Rivers & Streams
  • Waterfowl & Wetlands

To learn more about the Conservation Federation, go to or call (800) 575-2322.

Forty years after its initial achievement of locking politics out of conservation, the Federation concluded that a broad, stable financial base was necessary for effective, long-range conservation efforts. Missouri's conservation agency received almost all of its funding from the sale of hunting, fishing and trapping permits. That was enough for minimal forest, fish and wildlife programs, but Federation members saw a need for better, more comprehensive resource management.

They believed Missourians needed a network of publicly owned areas where people could enjoy outdoor activities. Such areas also would preserve representative examples of the state's diverse ecological systems. They envisioned hundreds of public accesses where Missourians could reach the state's lakes and streams. They foresaw nature centers in urban areas where city dwellers could enjoy the natural world. They wanted all people to be stakeholders in nature so that they would want to protect it.

To achieve this bold conservation vision, the Conservation Federation produced another revolutionary idea. They proposed a one-eighth of 1 percent sales tax to be used exclusively by the Conservation Department.

Again, Federation members carried petitions to every corner of the state, and the public put the proposition on the ballot as

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