Golden Anniversary Wetland Initiative
serious leaks or collapse. In addition, no one could have foreseen the extreme landscape changes and record-setting floods that have continued to impact these older areas.
Fifty years ago, wetland construction was considered cutting edge. However, we know far more about the science of wetland ecology and management today. Even basic engineering, design and construction technology have vastly improved from the early days. We would build wetlands differently today based on our knowledge and experiences.
Funding the Initiative
Due to the condition of these wetland areas, the Golden Anniversary Wetland Initiative is the Department’s top priority for wetland-directed capital improvements. A considerable amount of planning and funding will be dedicated to restorations, ensuring that these five oldest wetland areas will be around for at least another 50 years. Wetland ecologists and managers will join with our conservation partners and public supporters to determine future renovation and management efforts.
Traditionally, funds for wetland conservation were provided through sales of hunting licenses and the “duck stamp,” now called the federal migratory bird hunting and conservation stamp, and a federal excise tax on sporting arms and ammunition.
Today, migratory bird hunters continue to support wetland conservation through purchasing permits, the federal migratory bird stamp and by purchasing firearms and ammunition. Ironically, at a time when many waterfowl and other wetland wildlife populations are increasing in numbers, the number of hunters is decreasing. In 1970, Missouri had almost 60,000 duck hunters, but 30 years later, slightly more than half that many take to the wetlands. We can no longer expect waterfowl and other migratory bird hunters alone to carry the weight of wetland conservation.
Fortunately, Missouri citizens recognized the need for everyone to contribute support for conservation programs when they passed the 1/8 of 1 percent Design for Conservation sales tax in 1976. Today funding for wetland conservation and renovation will be the result of the combined efforts of the public, hunters, a long list of conservation organizations, and conservation agencies. If you want to help conserve Missouri’s wetlands, consider joining a conservation advocacy group to strengthen your voice for wetland conservation.
We know that wetlands are important to more than just duck hunters in Missouri. During the 2003 Conservation Opinion Survey, 91 percent of Missourians agreed, “It is important for outdoor places to be protected even if you don’t plan to visit the area.” Almost 70 percent of Missouri’s citizens indicated they enjoy outdoor activities such as “watching birds or wildlife,” and 50 percent “hike in the outdoors.”
Department wetland areas are popular places year-round for wildlife viewing from an automobile or while hiking. Through the Golden Anniversary Wetland Initiative, the Department will continue to work hard to restore wetland areas so that everyone can enjoy them for generations to come. Our passion for wild things and wild places leaves us little choice.
More Than Duck Ponds
In addition to waterfowl, migrating shorebirds, dowitchers, sandpipers, yellowlegs and hundreds of other wetland-associated wildlife require a variety of wetland habitats.
Some migratory birds require deep, open water. Others require shallow water or just-exposed wet mud flats. Birds migrate at different times and they can have special habitat needs during migration, which can also vary from one year to the next.
Raised hills or mounds in a wetland can increase the attractiveness of the area for shorebirds. Vegetation on these mounds attracts nesting birds. Varying water depths usually results in greater wildlife diversity.
The management of wetlands to ensure that adequate habitats are available to the most number of species presents a big challenge to wetland managers. They must be doing a good job though, because about 64 percent of waterfowl and other wetland-dependent migratory bird species have shown significant increasing long-term population trends due to wetland conservation.