The Next Generation of Conservation at Work

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Published on: Sep. 2, 2006

Last revision: Nov. 29, 2010

facility in Taney County, which includes Tumbling Creek Cave. “It’s like a jar of pickles. The hardest one to get out is the first one.”

In all, eight different funding sources, including Aley and the Taney County Commission, helped pay for the new water treatment system, which was completed in March. In addition, the U.S. Forest Service deeded to the school the 14 acres on which the old lagoon was located.

“It couldn’t have been better,” Needham said. “For essentially no cost to the school, we ended up with a first-class water treatment system that will last 50 years.”

He said the old lagoon has already been filled, and the area will become a nature reserve and include a butterfly sanctuary. Future plans include a nature trail and an outdoor pavilion that students from Mark Twain Elementary and other schools can use to learn about nature and water quality issues.

“Toward the end, I felt like I was being looked over by a herd of guardian angels,” Needham said, “and it just continues.” He said he is in constant contact with Conservation Department employees Larry Martien and Jay Barber about ways to improve the area by planting native grasses and creating conservation education opportunities.

The Conservation Department has a keen interest in the project because the area is within the Tumbling Creek Cave Ecosystem, one of 33 areas in Missouri that the Conservation Department and conservation partners have identified as Conservation Opportunity Areas. These places provide excellent opportunities to conserve a broad array of plants and animals through focused management and conservation of existing natural systems.

“The Department of Conservation was there at the beginning, and they’re still there,” Needham said. “This is a story I never get tired of telling.”

Meeting Next Generation Goals

The Conservation Department’s participation in building a sewage treatment facility at Mark Twain Elementary School guaranteed a viable habitat for an endangered species. At the same time, it brought a variety of partners together to advance the cause of conservation. The combined efforts to conserve plants, animals and their habitat also will result in a nature study area where Missourians can learn more about our fish, forest and wildlife resources.

  • Conserving Plants, Animals and Their Habitats
  • Protecting Clean and Healthy Waters
  • Teaching Missourians About Fish, Forest and Wildlife resources
  • Supporting Conservation in Our Communities
  • Helping Private Landowners Advance Conservation

Help for a Neighbor

“They just looked for volunteers and provided incentives.”

Good fences make good neighbors, but when your neighbor is a little minnow on the verge of extinction, a stream easement is much better than a fence. That’s the thinking behind the cooperative agreement the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation recently reached with Ryan Klindt of Harrison County.

The agreement protects crucial habitat for the Topeka shiner, a federally endangered species that hangs on in only a few Missouri streams. Klindt’s property borders a stretch of Sugar Creek where Conservation Department fisheries biologists often find the endangered fish.

“I’ve seen them, too,” Klindt said, “but I never paid much attention to them.”

Klindt owns 208 acres on which he grows corn and soybeans and raises about 200 head of registered Red Angus cattle. In return for a payment that came from the Stream Stewardship Trust Fund, he’s agreed not to farm or to allow cattle in a strip of land that ranges from 60 to 180 feet from the creek and a few of its spring-fed tributaries.

Klindt said he can still hunt the property or lease it for hunting, and he can log it with Conservation Department approval. “It really didn’t take anything productive away,” Klindt said.

Klindt works full time on his property and 2,000 other acres he rents. “I had to look at the agreement from the farmer’s side,” he said. “I lost about 4 acres of crop ground, but I’ve got a lot of walnuts planted so if anything it may actually increase the value.”

Klindt said he appreciated the way the Conservation Department handled the agreement. “They didn’t come in and try to enforce anything,” he said. “They just looked for volunteers and provided incentives.”

Klindt said several neighboring farms, including the family farm he grew up on, have entered into similar agreements. He estimated that his family’s two farms alone protect about a mile of Sugar Creek.

Meeting Next Generation Goals

The Conservation Department looks for opportunities to help private landowners work for the benefit of conservation. This is so important in Missouri because more than 90 percent of the state is privately owned. Although the Department manages conservation areas for the benefit of natural resources, the only way to ensure that Missouri has abundant wildlife, clean water and healthy forests is to encourage and help private landowners incorporate good conservation practices into their land management.

  • Helping Private Landowners Advance Conservation
  • Conserving Plants, Animals and Their Habitats
  • Protecting Clean and Healthy Waters
  • Promoting Healthy Trees and Forests

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