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Whether growing corn or quail, this picture is worth 1,000 words

These two ears of corn came from opposite sides of the same fence line. The big one grew next to a wildlife buffer enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program with Conservation Practice 33 (CP33). The stunted one grew right next to the fence line, where the corn was being sapped by large trees. The “CP33” edge produced 168 bushels of corn per acre, compared to 45 at the fence edge. CP33 field buffers consist of 30- to 120-foot-wide strips of native grasses, such as little bluestem. Landowners take unproductive land out of production, provide food and cover for quail and other wildlife and protect lakes and streams from runoff water carrying sediment and agricultural chemicals. Farming areas that are marginal for crop production costs the same as farming the best land. The farmer saved money by not farming the CP33 strip, and created hunting opportunities. To learn more about CP33, contact the nearest Conservation Department office or Farm Service Agency office.

Make your waterfowl reservations

Waterfowl hunters can apply for hunting reservations at state-run wetland areas through Sept. 18. To apply, find the nine-digit identification number printed at the top of a hunting or fishing permit or next to the bar code on your Conservation Heritage Card. Then call (800) 829-2956 or visit online. Results of the drawing for waterfowl hunting reservations will be available at the same phone number and Web site Oct. 2. Fountain Grove Conservation Area (CA) will be back on the reservation system this year.

Surplus property auction set for Oct. 21

Trucks, SUVs, sedans, ATVs, boats, motors, office equipment, furniture, farm equipment and other goods will go on sale at 10 a.m. Oct. 21 at the Conservation Department’s Salem office. Auction items are on display from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. the day before the auction and starting at 8 a.m. the day of the auction. A complete list of sale items will be available at the registration desk the day of the sale. All property must be paid for on the day of the sale and before removal. Acceptable methods of payment include cash, MasterCard or Visa or personal checks with proper identification. For lists of sale items, call (573) 522-4115, ext. 3279 or 3283.

Autumn is time to watch for forest pests

With winter just around the corner, it is easy to let down your guard against forest pests. However, autumn is a critical time to watch for two of the biggest threats to Missouri forests and landscape trees.

Emerald ash borers’ most common vehicle for entering new areas is firewood. Adults are metallic green, bullet-shaped beetles up to a half-inch long. To keep them out of Missouri, leave firewood behind when returning from out of state, and use only local sources of firewood. If you accidentally bring firewood from out-of-state, burn it immediately.

Gypsy moths also hitch rides to new areas, but they can travel on anything from lawn furniture to fishing rods. Adult female moths will lay their eggs on any solid object. Vehicles and trailers are favorite egg-laying sites. If you hunt, fish or camp in other states, examine all your equipment for velvety beige egg masses and scrape off any you find before returning home.

For more information, visit online. If you think you may have either of these pests, catch one and put it in a plastic bag in the freezer until you can contact the nearest Conservation Department office.

Gaudy but Great for birds

American beautyberry’s (Callicarpa americana) fall display of brilliant yellow leaves and fuchsia berries could be called gaudy, but it’s a true show-stopper that makes this native shrub welcome in home landscapes. Once there, it provides not only a feast for the eyes, but a feast for wildlife as well.

While some 135 callicarpa species grow throughout the world, only American beautyberry is native to the United States. Here it is found from Florida to Texas, north to Maryland and in Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri, which is at the northern edge of its range. The West Indies and northern Mexico

are its southern edge.

This show-stopper starts the growing season in a nondescript manner. From June to July, delicate, rosy pink, perhaps pale blue, flower clusters appear in the leaf axils, attracting a bevy of butterflies and hummingbirds. The plant bursts into full glory in late August to early September when its leaves turn lemon yellow and tightly grouped berries clustered around thin stems turn shades of rose-purple or violet-blue, attracting the attention of bluebirds and mockingbirds, among others.

The dolomite slopes that bordered the White River in southern Missouri once glistened with this fall display that provides food for at least 10 species of birds, as well as small mammals that include armadillos, raccoons, wood rats, gray foxes, opossums and white-tailed deer. The long-lasting fruits provide nutrition for wildlife into the winter months when other sources are depleted.

Water impounded by Table Rock Dam covers many of those slopes, but the plant is still found just above the high-water mark in the area. Now land managers are discovering the beauty of American beautyberry. Considered a “pioneer” plant, it sometimes is used on surface-mined sites to reclaim the land. It’s equally useful in providing “edge” shelter and food for bobwhite quail.

In addition to providing wildlife food and shelter, it’s a long-time remedy for repelling deerflies, horseflies and mosquitoes. Old-timers crushed its leaves and rubbed them on their skin and their domestic animals. Recently scientists discovered several insect repellent compounds in the leaves—some equivalent to the repellent value of DEET. If all these attributes haven’t convinced you to look into planting American beautyberry at your home or on your farm, just think, once again, about that gaudy look that makes you catch your breath on a crisp autumn morning. For information on other Missouri native plants that brighten fall days, visit Grow Native! —Barbara Fairchild

Waterfowl Hunting Changes

Beginning in 2006, reservations for waterfowl hunting at managed waterfowl hunting areas will be for Missouri residents only. Nonresident reservation applications will not be accepted because waterfowl hunting opportunities are limited and the number of nonresident applicants has increased dramatically in recent years. In addition, hunters will be encouraged to “join forces” to put more hunters in the marsh.

During 2004 and 2005, waterfowl hunters at Eagle Bluffs and Otter Slough conservation areas (CAs) experienced a new daily drawing system designed to create an incentive for them to hunt with family or friends instead of hunting alone. Because of the positive results, in 2006 the new “Every Member Draws” system will be implemented this year at Bob Brown, Grand Pass, and Ten Mile Pond CAs, and considered for all other managed waterfowl hunting areas in future years.

Unlike the old system where only one member of a hunting party drew for a hunting location, the new “Every Member Draws” procedure gives every party member the chance to draw, then allows the party to use their best number drawn.

The two test years revealed that the “Every Member Draws” system increased the average number of hunters per party and therefore allowed more hunters to take part in this limited opportunity. At Eagle Bluffs there were an estimated 706 additional hunting trips each year, and 1,271 more trips per year at Otter Slough. Surveys of hunters who experienced the new system indicated that a majority supported its continuation.

One advantage of the new system is that it still accommodates those who prefer to hunt alone. However, it encourages—and somewhat favors—those willing to hunt in a larger group, up to the maximum of four hunters. Implementing the “Every Member Draws” procedure at all managed waterfowl hunting areas should result in 8,000 to 12,000 additional hunting trips each year. Staff will carefully monitor the new system to ensure that it lives up to its potential.

Missouri Bluebird Society to Meet

The newly formed Missouri Bluebird Society will hold its first annual meeting on Sept. 9 at the Runge Conservation Nature Center in Jefferson City. The meeting will begin at 8:30 a.m. Keith Kridler, co-author of the Bluebird Monitor’s Guide and charter member of the North American Bluebird Society, is the keynote speaker.

The society was founded to enhance the welfare and broaden public awareness of the eastern bluebird, Missouri’s state bird. The group also seeks to improve habitat and nesting opportunities for other native cavity-nesting birds like prothonotary warblers and chickadees. All native hole-dwelling species are challenged by competition with aggressive, introduced house sparrows and european starlings.

Those who join during the first year are designated as charter members and will receive an attractive color certificate featuring a photo by retired Missouri Department of Conservation photographer Jim Rathert.

For more information visit online or call (573) 638-2473 or (573) 634-5446.

Flora of Missouri, Volume II, now on sale

The Missouri Botanical Garden is revising and reissuing a Missouri conservation classic, Steyermark’s Flora of Missouri. This three-volume set will be the ultimate reference book for Show-Me-State naturalists and for amateur botanists who want to answer the question, “What is that plant?”

Often referred to as the state's botanical bible, the original edition was written by Conservation Hall of Famer Julian Steyermark and first published in 1963. The Botanical Garden, with help from the Conservation Department, is in the midst of updating the book.

Volume I, with an introduction to Missouri natural history and information about ferns, conifers, and the first portion of flowering plants, came out in 1999. The 1,200-page Volume II now is available. It covers more than 40 families of flowering plants.

Besides descriptions and keys for plant identification, the second volume contains discussions of the taxonomy, ecology and conservation of each species, as well as summaries of food, medicine, craft, gardening and other uses and poisonous properties. Most of the species accounts are accompanied by black-and-white illustrations. Maps show the distribution of each species in Missouri.

Research on the remaining plant groups is underway. The final volume in the set is expected to take several more years to complete.

Volume II is available from the Missouri Botanical Garden Press for $48 plus shipping. Volume I is still available for $38 plus shipping. For more information or to order copies, call MBG Press toll free at (877) 271-1930, e-mail mbgpress@mobot.org, or visit their website.

St. Louis RV show

The 17th St. Louis Fall RV Show will return to the St. Louis Mills Shopping Center in Hazelwood Sept. 8 through 10, bringing with it nearly 350 recreational vehicles of every description, including 2007 models and year-end close-outs. Admission and parking are free. Hours are 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. Sept. 8 and 9 and 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. Sept. 10. More information is available online or by calling (314) 355-1236.

Shortnose gar fishing record falls

Another state fishing record fell on June 16, when Brad Smith of Center, Mo., took a 13-pound shortnose gar with bowfishing tackle at Mark Twain Lake. The previous record in the Alternative Methods category was a 12-pound, 3-ounce fish taken by Willard resident Greg Rippee at Pomme de Terre Lake in 1997. Other state-record fish caught this year include a 9-pound, 10-ounce river redhorse sucker in January, a 5-pound black crappie in April and a 6-pound, 6-ounce yellow bullhead in May. A complete list of Missouri fishing records is available online.

Cape Conservation Campus plans hunting & fishing day event

Southeast Missouri residents can learn about hunting and fishing at a special event at the Cape Girardeau Conservation Campus Nature Center from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Sept. 30. “Connecting People with the Land” is a celebration of the conservation and preservation of the natural and cultural resources of southeast Missouri. There will be hands-on learning stations for traditional archery, hunting, fishing and other outdoor skills. The Southeast Regional Museum will be on hand with native American artifacts and kid-friendly archaeology stations. Auditorium presentations will take place on the hour. Call (573) 290-5218 for more information.

Deer hunters can help the needy

With archery deer season opening Sept. 15, it’s time for Missouri hunters to think about sharing the riches of the field with those less fortunate. Since 1992, Share the Harvest has given Missouri hunters the opportunity to donate venison to food banks and other charitable organizations. From the modest start of a few hundred pounds in the Columbia area, the program has grown to funneling more than 120 tons of venison to needy families annually through dozens of local programs. You can be part of this amazing endeavor. To start your own Share the Harvest program, contact the Conservation Federation of Missouri at (573) 634-2322 or mofed@socket.net. To donate venison, consult the “2006 Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Information” booklet, available wherever hunting permits are sold or visit online.

Stream Team tally tops 3,000

The Missouri Stream Team Program is proof of Victor Hugo’s assertion that nothing is so powerful as an idea whose time has come. When the Conservation Federation of Missouri and the Missouri departments of Conservation and Natural Resources founded the program in 1989, they hoped one day to have 250 citizen groups actively working to improve and protect the state’s streams. They surpassed that figure in just two years. Last May, Missouri’s 3,000th Stream Team—the Coldwater Creek Reclaimers—hit the water for their first activity, a trash pickup. The team consists of James and Sheila MacBride of Fredericktown and their sons Elijah MacBride, 11, Chayce Mell, 9, and Bryce Mell, 7. “The boys were really excited,” said James. “It’s a little bit of bragging rights, being the 3,000th Stream Team.” Taking its cue from citizens, the Conservation Department has set the goal of doubling the number of Stream Teams again, to 6,000. To learn more about Stream Teams, including how to start one, visit online.

Teal hunters get 16-day season

For the first time since 2003, Missouri teal hunters will have a 16-day season to pursue the speedy little birds. Waterfowl seasons are set on the basis of annual breeding population surveys. To justify a 16-day season, blue-winged teal numbers must be above 4.7 million in spring surveys. This year they reached 5.9 million, a 28 percent increase from last year. This year’s early teal season will open Sept. 9 and run through Sept. 24. The increase in teal numbers and encouraging reports about habitat conditions in the northern breeding grounds are good signs for the regular waterfowl season.

Missouri eagle population booming

A count of nests and the chicks conducted in April showed that bald eagles continue to thrive in Missouri. The species (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was in trouble in the mid-20th century due to pollution. They began recovering when the insecticide DDT was banned. Missouri had no productive eagle nests from 1962 through 1981. Over the following 10 years, the Conservation Department released 74 wild eagle chicks obtained from other states with thriving eagle populations. In 1982 a single eagle fledged from a nest at Truman Lake. By 1998, the count was 36 active nests and 70 fledglings, and the state was gaining approximately five nesting eagle pairs a year. This year, Missouri had more than 120 nesting pairs that fledged approximately 200 young. Missouri has ample habitat for several hundred nesting pairs. If you think you know where there is an eagle nest, contact the nearest Conservation Department office.

Agent Notebook

Have you ever witnessed a wildlife violation or seen someone setting fire to timber they didn’t own?

Many folks want these kinds of activities to stop but are hesitant to speak openly about them. In Missouri, however, people have the option of reporting poachers or arsonists through the Operation Game Thief (OGT) and Operation Forest Arson (OFA) hot lines.

These two programs, both of which can be reached by dialing (800) 392-1111, are sponsored by the Conservation Federation of Missouri, the U.S. Forest Service and the Missouri Department of Conservation. These privately funded programs provide rewards for information leading to the arrest of game-law violators or forest arsonists. Callers can remain anonymous and collect rewards anonymously, and all the information they provide is kept in strict confidence.

Poachers and arsonists are responsible for stealing thousands of dollars each year from Missouri citizens by destroying habitat, taking excessive amounts of wildlife and damaging private property. Their actions also deprive law-abiding citizens of their right to hunt legally, safely and ethically.

Help keep Missouri’s wildlife and forest resources free from poachers and arsonists. Call the hot lines at (800) 392-1111, or call your county conservation agent, whenever you witness a violation. —Christine Campbell, Nodaway County

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