Melody Torrey’s idea of fun is taking a niece and nephew out on one of northeast Missouri’s headwater streams and catching crawdads and other critters to learn how clean the water is.
“I like the idea of leaving the world a better place than when I came into it,” Melody says. “Unfortunately, we haven’t always received the land the way we should, but you can do something about it.” She and other members of the Family Farms Group are doing lots to ensure that streams stay healthy in their area, which has lots of confined animal feeding operations and a meat-packing plant.
In the past 12 years, members of the Family Farms Group have devoted more than 13,000 hours to water-quality monitoring on more than 20 streams. That is more than 130 eight-hour work days a year. Data they gathered have helped state officials identify and correct water quality problems.
Overabundant filamentous algae (moss) is a nuisance for swimmers and anglers. Worse, several days of cloudy weather can cause algae to die causing oxygen levels to drop and kill fish. If fish are gulping at the surface, you can sometimes provide relief by spraying a fan of water across the surface from a high-pressure hose or mixing air and water with an outboard motor trimmed to spray a “rooster tail.” Prevention is the best remedy though; remove algae with a rake, and dispose of it below the dam. This removes the nutrients and reduces the likelihood of more algae growth.
The new federal license for Bagnell Dam requires Ameren-UE to make hydroelectric operations better for wildlife. The license, which resulted from more than a year of negotiations, ensures that Missourians will get more than just electricity from Bagnell Dam for the next 40 years and protects business, tourism and recreational interests. The Conservation Department fought for provisions to reduce damage to the Osage River’s banks below the dam and to protect the river’s fish habitat. The Conservation Department also negotiated changes to prevent fish from being sucked into hydroelectric turbines or killed by violent currents and low-oxygen water below the dam. Furthermore, the utility company takes responsibility for improving habitat for freshwater mussels and other plants and animals that are part of the Osage River’s normal, healthy ecosystem. The company also will pay for stocking to replenish fisheries in Lake of the Ozarks and below the dam. The utility will increase water-quality monitoring and expand its analysis of erosion problems in the lower river to find ways to further reduce the impact of its operations.
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