Julia Jane “J.J.” Jones loved the outdoors. Whether bird watching, fishing, gardening or just simply being outside, she was at her best when surrounded by nature. Born and raised in rural Missouri, she traveled extensively with her husband, who worked for United Airlines, living in various places while raising two children. After retiring, she settled in Springfield. She discovered the Springfield Conservation Nature Center and visited frequently.
In 2002, J.J. was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Her daughter, Anne Tunnell, moved to Springfield to care for her full time. They continued to visit the nature center and to trout fish whenever possible. Even though she forgot the names of birds and flowers, she still loved being outdoors. Unfortunately, she forgot how to fish. Anne and others would place a pole in her hands because she couldn’t remember the physical motions of casting. It has been said, however, that fishing gets into the heart of the angler. Mrs. Jones would sit and wait patiently until she felt a tug on the line, then she instinctively knew what to do. Sadly, she succumbed to her disease at the age of 84 in June 2005.
J.J. felt that nothing should be taken for granted and that it was her responsibility to take care of the things she loved. Because of her philosophy, she left a $28,000 trust fund to the nature center through the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation. This generous donation allowed them to complete a long overdue construction project that doubled the size of the shop area. They also purchased native plants for flower beds and a fishing simulator so visitors of all ages can enjoy the experience of landing a big one.—by Linda Chorice
Taberville Prairie Conservation Area is a great place to find a date, if you’re a greater prairie chicken. However, it is also a popular hunting spot for raptors.
Taberville Prairie, in St. Clair County, 3.5 miles north of Taberville, is one of the few native tallgrass prairies remaining in Missouri. It was purchased by the Conservation Department in 1959 for the preservation of the prairie chicken.
Male prairie chickens gather on communal sites, known as leks, to compete for females’ attention. They dance, display their feathers and throat sacs, and produce booming mating calls that can carry more than a mile. Unfortunately, raptors visiting these displays have an eye on dinner, not the show. With population numbers at such low levels, it is important to discourage predators from disrupting the leks.
The Conservation Department, Audubon Missouri, and KA MO Power recently collaborated to install raptor spikes on power poles that crisscross an area of Taberville CA adjacent to a lek. Many species of hawks, especially red-tailed hawks (the most abundant large hawk in Missouri), are most effective when they can hunt from an inconspicuous perch and ambush their prey—and power poles are ideal. A soaring hawk is much easier to spot than one sitting motionless. The spikes will not harm the hawks, and they could help tip the odds in the prairie chickens’ favor.
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