The Conservation Commission recently recognized three Conservation Department workers for outstanding contributions to the future of fish, wildlife and recreational resources. Assistant Director Denise Garnier and Resource Scientist Del Lobb received Special Achievement Awards in July from Commission Chairman Lowell Mohler and Conservation Department Director John Hoskins. Fisheries Programs Coordinator Bill Turner received his award in August.
The awards recognize the trio’s role in mediating a $1.3 million settlement with AmerenUE for fish kills at its Osage Hydroelectric Power Plant at Bagnell Dam. They also negotiated concessions for fish and wildlife in how the power company operates the dam. For more information, visit online.
The successful nesting of a pair of trumpeter swans in Carroll County earlier this year marked the first time in more than a century that North America’s largest water birds fledged young in the Show-Me State.
Two birds from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ trumpeter swan restoration program raised three young swans, or cygnets, at a small private pond not far from Fountain Grove Conservation Area. It was the first known successful trumpeter swan nesting since the mid-1800s. Another pair of swans hatched two cygnets at Mingo National Wildlife Refuge in 1986, but the young birds disappeared after a few weeks, probably victims of natural predators.
Three-quarters of the world’s trumpeter swans live in Alaska. More than 2,500 free-flying trumpeter swans live in the upper Midwest. For more information, visit online.
More than 10,000 Missourians collected tons of litter, tires, major appliances and other items during the first-ever No MOre Trash Bash in April. The mountain of trash collected by volunteers included thousands of bags of trash removed from streams, lakes, highways, parks and conservation areas.
Participants included hundreds of workers with the Missouri Departments of Conservation and Transportation and thousands of citizens from communities, civic clubs, schools, 4-H clubs, Scout groups and fraternities. If you missed out on this year’s No MOre Trash Bash, watch these pages for information about the 2006 event.
Bring beauty and birds into your fall and winter landscape by including winterberry (Ilex verticillata) in a shrub row. This native shrub’s brightly colored berries cling to its branches into the winter, providing an enticing repast for songbirds, quail and small mammals. They also make a showy display that brightens dull winter days. Unlike holly cousins that retain glossy green foliage throughout the winter, winterberry’s leaves change color and fall off. The result is a breathtaking view of thousands of brilliant berries.
An added bonus is the opportunity to cut sprigs off your winterberry for holiday decoration. Avoid overharvesting. Not only will you reduce the amount of edible fruit for wildlife, you may damage the plant. Winterberry grows well in average to wet soil, in full sun to partial shade. It has separate male and female plants, so plant at least one male in a group of females.
To find more Missouri native shrubs, vines and trees that provide winter food for wildlife, visit Grow Native! on the Internet at grownative.org. Click on “Native Plant Info,” then “Plant Search.” —Barbara Fairchild
Touting partnerships to stretch scarce tax dollars, Conservation Department Director John Hoskins took Gov. Matt Blunt on a tour of a conservation area and in return received an endorsement of the state’s conservation sales tax.
The two met Sept. 20 at Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area south of Columbia. Hoskins chose the site to highlight how his agency uses public and private money to leverage state funds for conservation.
“I believe in what the Conservation Commission has done,” said Blunt. He noted that Missouri’s conservation program is unique in the nation and is “a national model.”
Stopping at a waterfowl hunting blind, Hoskins explained that the wheelchair-accessible structure was built with financial help from a Columbia physician who specializes in spinal cord injuries and is an avid duck hunter. He also talked about other ways that Eagle Bluffs exemplifies the partnership model.
Money from the one-eighth of 1 percent conservation sales tax helped create the 4,300-acre area. However, the Conservation Department used matching funds from several federal agencies to minimize state expenditures.
Hoskins noted that three of the farmers who chose to put their acreage under state stewardship at Eagle Bluffs now farm the land under cooperative arrangements. The farmers continue to receive income from the land, while waterfowl, deer and other wildlife find food and habitat there.
A partnership with the City of Columbia uses effluent from the city’s nearby wastewater treatment plant to fill Eagle Bluffs’ wetland pools. After passing through the nation’s largest recreational wastewater treatment wetland, the water exceeds federal environmental standards.
The Conservation Department is working with the Corps of Engineers to create habitat along Eagle Bluffs’ Missouri River frontage for the endangered pallid sturgeon, and it is cooperating with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to tie Katy Trail State Park to a new viewing platform atop a bluff overlooking the conservation area. Hoskins said these are only a few of many ways the Conservation Department uses partnerships to stretch its dollars.
Gov. Blunt recalled catching fish from his grandfather’s pond as a child. Those fish, he said, came from the Conservation Department, another example of partnerships that provide big benefits for small investments. He said he is glad to see such opportunities extended to city dwellers through partnerships between Conservation Department fish hatcheries and city park boards.
“You couldn’t make the long-term commitment to programs like these without dependable funding,” said Blunt. “One thing I tell opponents of the dedicated tax for conservation is that there are ongoing needs that have to be met. I am committed to continuing the tax.
“Missourians want their money to be well spent,” he added. “I think there’s general confidence that the Conservation Department does that, so there’s no reason to revisit the dedicated tax.”
Break out your down parka and binoculars—Eagle Days are back. This year’s events will run from Dec. 3 through Feb. 4. As always, visitors will get to watch eagles in the wild and attend indoor interpretive programs. Check the following list of locations and phone numbers for more information about events near you.
Whether your taste runs toward frost flowers or prairie summer sunsets, the Natural Events Calendar has something for you. The 2006 calendar is on sale now at conservation nature centers and regional Conservation Department offices statewide.
This year’s crop of breathtaking wildlife and landscape photographs includes a set of seven photos illustrating the different ways that bird beaks have developed for different lifestyles. Perennial favorites among natural events listings are the dates of meteor showers, wildflower blooming times and notes about when animals from bats to bluebirds raise their young.
The calendar costs $5, plus applicable tax and shipping. At that price, and with supplies limited, they won’t last long. To order by mail, call toll-free at (877) 521-8632, or write to The Nature Shop, P.O. Box 180, Jeff erson City, MO 65102. You can also order online.
Shortleaf pine and oak-pine forest once blanketed more than 6.5 million acres of southern Missouri.Today’s acreage is less than one-tenth of the original. A symposium titled “Restoration and Ecology of Shortleaf Pine in the Ozarks” will offer participants insights about what happened to those acres and what can be done to regain the biological diversity they once provided.The symposium will take place Nov. 7-9, 2006 at the University Plaza Hotel and Convention Center in Springfield. For more information, contact DavidGwaze, (573) 882-9909, ext. 3320,email@example.com.
Rick Osborn (below) of Camdenton, Mo., set a new state pole-and-line record for brown trout Oct. 3. The male fish weighed 27 pounds, 10 ounces, and was 38.5 inches long. Rick was fly-fishing in upper Lake Taneycomo, below the third outlet of Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery and just above a spot known as the “rebar hole.” He caught the fish on a size 14 long-shank grey scud fly, using a 4-pound-test leader. Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery Manager, James Civiello, weighed the fish on a certified scale at the hatchery.
The previous record was set in July by St. Louisan Bryan Chapman with a 27-pound, 8.8-ounce fish, also caught at Lake Taneycomo.
Three Missourians recently received the Conservation Commission’s highest honor, the Master Conservationist Award.
G. E. “Shag” Grossnickle, Kirksville, embodies the spirit of citizen-led conservation. Shag (above left) is being congratulated by Bob Behnen, Missouri House of Representatives District 2, at the September 9th awards ceremony in Kirksville. Over 200 northeast Missouri residents showed up to honor Shag. He was instrumental in restoring wild turkeys to northern Missouri. At a time when conventional wisdom held that turkeys could not survive in the sparsely wooded counties north of the Missouri River, he was a persuasive and persistent advocate for the project. The birds thrived, and today northern Missouri has several of the state’s top turkey harvest counties. For the complete story on Shag and his turkey restoration efforts, see page 17.
Leo and Kay Drey, University City, have devoted their lives to environmental conservation.
The state’s largest private landowner, Leo was a pioneer in developing forestry practices that yield wood products while maintaining forest land’s ecological integrity. He helped create the National Scenic Riverways and played a key role in establishing the Open Space Council in St. Louis and the Missouri Coalition for the Environment. He funded the Natural Areas Survey for Missouri and the Natural Streams Act campaign and worked tirelessly to preserve the Show-Me State’s natural treasures for future generations.
Kay Drey’s conservation career grew out of a lifelong concern for the environment. She helped found the Green Center, which promotes arts- and nature-based conservation programs in University City. She has worked with the Great Rivers Environmental Law Center and the Coalition for the Environment, addressing the environmental effects of hazardous and radioactive waste.
The Conservation Commission established the Master Conservationist award in 1941 to recognize substantial and lasting contributions to fisheries, forestry or wildlife conservation. Only 49 people have received the award in 65 years.
Missouri conservation agents wear many hats throughout their careers. Besides being peace officers, they conduct school programs, teach hunter education classes, host radio shows and advise landowners about wildlife management. In September, 16 of Missouri’s finest wildlife officers helped find and rescue Louisiana residents stranded by Hurricane Katrina.
Conservation agents’ training qualifies them to participate in disaster relief. When Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries called for help, agents from across Missouri answered. Their seven-day deployment involved daily search-and-rescue missions.
Agents serving in rescue efforts included: Marc Bagley, Carroll County; Rob Brandenburg, Crawford County; Bob Burgess, Maries County; Mike Christensen, Pike County; Vincent Crawford, Caldwell County; Rob Farr, Benton County; Denise Hunsaker, St. Louis County; Jason Langston, Ripley County; Danton Letterman, Stone and Taney counties; Lynn McClamroch, northeast district supervisor, Kirksville; David Nichols, Dent County; Mark Reed, Stoddard County; Tom Strother, central regional supervisor, Columbia; Mike Terhune, Cedar County; Ken West, southeast regional supervisor, Cape Girardeau; and Kevin Zielke, Johnson County.
Agents were not the only Conservation Department employees who helped in the hurricane’s aftermath. Civil Engineering Supervisor Lewis McCann arrived in Louisiana as part of a disaster-relief task force before Katrina hit. His role was supposed to be deciding whether buildings were safe for search-and-rescue teams to enter. However, the water was so high that he and his crew stayed busy plucking people off rooftops.
McCann and Conservation Department Project Engineer Kerry Scott later put their special expertise to work when search-and-rescue crews worked their way through about half of the 22,000 homes that needed to be checked for survivors and bodies before Hurricane Rita forced emergency personnel to leave New Orleans.
Educators who want to enrich their classroom offerings can apply for Conservation Department grants for outdoor classrooms. The Show-Me Conservation Outdoor Classroom Grant program provides up to $1,000 for developing or enhancing outdoor learning sites. Funded in part by the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation, this grant program has awarded over $311,000 to help establish outdoor classrooms at 239 schools across the state. Applications are due by March 17, 2006. For more information, contact Syd Hime, (573) 522-4115, ext. 3370.
Some of my fondest memories are from when I was a small boy growing up in northwest Missouri. My father and I spent a lot of time hunting and fishing together.
I’ll always remember one Thanksgiving morning when we were squirrel hunting. As we were creeping through the woods, an adult gobbler flew off the roost, landed 25 yards out and began to walk slowly away from us. My father automatically raised his shotgun and drew down on the bird. As if the temptation wasn’t enough, I was standing behind him yelling, “Shoot it, Dad, shoot it!” After a second, he lowered his gun and said, “That wouldn’t be right, Son, it isn’t turkey season.”
As a conservation agent, I see many anglers and hunters spending time with their children outdoors. Some of those parents get so caught up in the thrill of the harvest that they are willing to do whatever it takes to catch another fish or bag another bird. What they should be doing instead is following the rules and concentrating on the seeds they are planting in those who look up to them.
Hunting and fishing provide excellent opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. They afford many chances to spend quality time with someone special and instill in them by example the importance of following the rules, practicing safety and making ethical decisions. Make the most of every outdoor opportunity! —Jade Wright, Holt County
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