This summary of the Annual Report highlights the Conservation Department’s accomplishments and expenditures from July 1, 2007, through June 30, 2008. These accomplishments are based on the nine goals established in The Next Generation of Conservation.
MDC is revising and refining the way it manages forests. The Forest Land Action Guidelines help natural resource managers evaluate, understand and sustainably manage Missouri’s forest and woodland communities.
Master Logger Certification
MDC helped develop the Missouri Master Logger Certification program. We awarded a $20,000 grant to the Missouri Forest Products Association to help start this volunteer program, where a logger agrees to uphold the standards set by the program. The state’s fish, forest, wildlife, soils, water and air will be better protected when harvesting is done by certified loggers.
Monitoring forest health
The Forest Health Program is a cooperative effort between MDC and other state and federal agencies to conserve Missouri’s forest resources by monitoring and evaluating forest health and providing forest health management information to Missouri residents. Monitoring activities document and evaluate ongoing threats to forest health.
The Missouri Stream Team program continued to grow. There are more than 3,700 teams whose volunteers spent 197,460 hours working on their adopted streams. Since the program began in 1989, volunteers have spent more than a million hours protecting and improving Missouri streams.
Stream Stewardship Trust Fund
The Stream Stewardship Trust Fund is available to restore, enhance and/or protect stream systems and associated riparian habitats. The program and funds are administered by the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation, and MDC staff apply for grants. In FY08, seven projects costing $467,000 were approved to protect 65.8 acres of stream channel and 133.5 acres of riparian corridor.
Effective contaminant monitoring
MDC initiated discussions with the Missouri departments of Natural Resources and Health and Senior Services to explore ways to more efficiently collect key fish-contaminant information. Through cooperation on fish collection and sample analysis, we have increased the amount of information collected, with no increase in cost to the public. We also have shortened the time it takes to get this information to the public in the form of fish consumption advisories.
MDC, in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service, provided more than $376,748 in grants to more than 183 volunteer fire departments. These grants help fund protective clothing, equipment and training.
Meat donation program
Conservation agents coordinate and support the Share the Harvest program with the Conservation Federation of Missouri, local charitable organizations and local meat processors. During FY08, approximately 5,569 hunters donated 260,908 pounds of venison.
Community Assistance Program
Through the Community Assistance Program (CAP) and the closely related Corporate and Agency Partnership Program (CAPP), MDC enters into agreements (usually 25-year) with cities, counties, state and federal agencies, businesses, foundations, schools and colleges to provide fisheries management at existing lakes and ponds, and to cooperatively develop and maintain facilities for anglers and boaters at lake and stream areas. MDC has agreements with 118 partners for the cooperative management of 158 public lakes (9,634 acres of water), 42 stream-access areas, four lake-access areas and six aquatic resource education ponds.
The status of quail, prairie chicken and other grassland bird populations and efforts to reduce their decline remain top MDC priorities. The Department completes approximately 70,000 acres of quail and grassland-bird friendly habitat work on conservation areas each year.
We are emphasizing the restoration and management of productive natural communities. We actively managed habitat on 20,607 acres of grassland/prairie, 37,745 acres of marsh/wetlands, 11,026 acres of glades, 48,223 acres of forest, 18,084 acres of savannas and 18,539 acres of old field.
River basin management
Staff participated in working groups to implement ecosystem-based management necessary for the conservation and enhancement of natural and recreational resources of the Missouri, Mississippi and White rivers. They helped direct the implementation of $54 million available through the Missouri River Fish and Wildlife Mitigation Project for habitat restoration, $16.8 million available through the Mississippi River Environmental Management Program (EMP) for biological monitoring and habitat restoration, and $10 million available for planning efforts within the proposed Mississippi River Navigation and Ecosystem Restoration Program.
The Statewide Conservation Genetics Program
The productivity and survival of Missouri’s plants and animals depend on genetic diversity. Through DNA analysis, rare species can be protected, fishing can be improved, hatchery strains can be selected and species can be restored. DNA often can be used to identify species, sources and sometimes “parents” of animals and plants. Examples of species studies include black bass, shortleaf pine and hellbenders.
GO FISH! staff and volunteers taught fishing and environmental stewardship to St. Louis children through 249 programs. Free fishing equipment was given to more than 2,200 anglers after successful completion of programs.
Helping more Missourians enjoy the outdoors
Both the Hunting Method Exemption Program and the Group Fishing Program are designed to assist disabled hunters and provide opportunities for educational or rehabilitation groups to experience fishing. During FY08, we issued 3,055 hunting method exemptions to help disabled hunters. We also issued 260 group-fishing permits to help Missourians who otherwise might not be able to participate and learn about outdoor fishing.
Missouri National Archery in the Schools Program
MDC—in collaboration with the Conservation Federation of Missouri—is the Missouri coordinating agency for the NASP. By the end of 2008, more than 40 Missouri schools will have adopted this program in fourth- to 12th-grade physical-education classes. Many of these schools received reimbursement grants up to $500 toward NASP-approved archery equipment, and more than 5,500 students experienced the program.
New hunters and anglers
Staff and volunteers provided more than 1,500 instructional programs in hunting, fishing, trapping and shooting sports to more than 45,000 people. We offered more than 1,000 Hunter Education classes, certified 25,288 students and piloted an online Hunter Education training module.
Horse riding is a popular form of recreation. We developed a joint statewide mail survey of horse-riding enthusiasts in cooperation with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, National Parks Service and the U.S. Forest Service. It was mailed to Missouri horse owners and handed out to riders at major trail rides and through outfitters. Results will help to develop a plan for equestrian use on public lands in the state.
MDC conducted habitat management activities on approximately 180,000 acres of public land. Staff spent nearly 323,862 hours on area maintenance.
Adopt-A-Trail volunteers monitor, maintain and help to enhance trails and trailheads. In FY08, volunteers spent 963 hours on conservation-area trails.
To make our educational offerings more recognizable, programs for families, women and schools will be known under the “Discover Nature” umbrella. The new middle-school unit for that program was launched statewide. Seventy-one schools with 3,041 students received grants to participate. Field trip grants helped 22,204 students at 194 schools get outdoors. Outdoor Classroom grants were awarded to 27 new schools. Grants to schools exceeded $202,000.
Twin Pines Conservation Education Center
Twin Pines Conservation Education Center in Shannon County opened this year. It places a special emphasis on the history of the Ozarks’ timber industry. Displays there include vintage logging equipment, a log cabin and an early 20th century schoolhouse.
Helped citizens discover, use and enjoy the outdoors
More than 1 million visitors experienced our conservation nature centers and shooting-range/outdoor-education centers. These facilities offered a wide variety of programs, with more than 300,000 participants.
Nearly $1.18 million in cost-share funds went to 634 private landowners to implement habitat management practices for fish, forest and wildlife. The funds helped install 1,104 conservation practices, impacting nearly 40,000 acres.
Partnerships support landowners
Staff developed 35 partnerships with federal, state and non-governmental organizations. These partnerships helped MDC enhance technical and financial assistance and equipment support to landowners interested in improving fish, forest and wildlife resources. One example is MDC assisted Missouri USDA with developing and applying $150 million in Farm Bill conservation programs.
MDC provided timely and responsive service through 41,308 rural and urban landowner contacts, including 16,987 on-site visits. Landowners were assisted with habitat management plans. Staff also answered 5,025 requests for wildlife nuisance and/or damage assistance, including 1,005 on-site visits.
We employ a variety of scientifically sound measures to assess public opinions, expectations and recreation participation. This information guides decisions about regulations and fish, forest and wildlife management. In FY08 there were 58 activities that involved 92,365 people, which included public information surveys, focus groups and public meetings.
Tracked strategic plan accomplishments
This was the second fiscal year of tracking accomplishments of The Next Generation of Conservation, MDC’s strategic plan. The plan identifies nine goals, 28 results and 61 specific actions that MDC will work with Missourians to achieve. New developments include the ability to generate reports showing annual and cumulative accomplishments.
Internal audit reports
Internal auditors performed seven internal audits to ensure that public funds were expended in a responsible manner. There were no major findings.
County Assistance Payments—$1,451,829 Included payments to Missouri’s counties for levee and drainage district taxes, forest cropland payments, payments in lieu of real estate taxes and county aid road trust payments. Since 1980, more than $13.11 million has been paid to Missouri counties in lieu of taxes.
Capital Improvements—$16,165,002 Work included fish hatchery improvements, river access development, wetland renovations, shooting range construction, development of nature centers, land acquisition transactions and renovation and repair of facilities statewide.
Fisheries—$12,444,886 Maintained and improved sport fish populations, aquatic biodiversity and aquatic habitats. Managed 906 lakes and 40 stream management areas for public fishing, and provided stream and lake management assistance to over 8,600 private landowners. Stocked more than 11 million fish in public lakes and streams.
Forestry—$16,071,586 Fostered a healthy and growing forest resource. Examples include distributing 5 million seedlings for planting to nearly 12,400 landowners, provided forestry assistance on over 50,000 acres and facilitated EQIP projects totaling over $725,000 on private land, managing 438,700 acres of public forest land, monitoring insect and disease threats and facilitating development of the state’s forest industry.
Wildlife—$16,640,868 Worked toward ensuring wildlife populations are in harmony with habitat and human enjoyment. Managed more than 525,000 acres of public land and implemented programs to maintain and restore natural communities and wildlife diversity across Missouri’s landscape.
Outreach and Education—$15,412,405 Sustained and nourished Missourians’ connection to the outdoors through more than 1 million visitors to conservation nature centers and shooting-range/outdoor-education centers, nearly 500,000 subscribers to the Missouri Conservationist magazine, web-based information, grants to schools exceeding $202,000, conservation curriculums for schools, outdoor skills programs and hunter education.
Private Land Services—$8,992,253 Helped private landowners to achieve long-term conservation of natural resources and their land-use objectives. Delivered nearly $1.2 million in cost-share funds to private landowners; provided on-site technical assistance to 10,602 private landowners; improved habitat for quail and grassland songbirds on more than 27,000 acres of private land; helped landowners enroll almost 2,415 acres into the Wetland Reserve Program; and assisted 5,025 private landowners in controlling nuisance wildlife.
Protection—$13,879,942 Paid for law enforcement in every county as well as resource management, information, education and public service contact activities conducted by 167 conservation agents who directly contacted more than 675,000 people. Coordinated the Share the Harvest Program where more than 5,500 deer hunters donated more than 260,000 pounds of venison to less fortunate Missourians. Conservation agents, along with 1,788 volunteer instructors, conducted 968 hunter education classes, certifying 25,288 students.
Resource Science—$11,677,559 Provided the science-based information needed to effectively manage Missouri’s natural resources. Resource Science monitors the status of Missouri’s fish, forests, plants and wildlife, recommends conservation actions, evaluates these actions and reports the results. In addition to surveys of fish and wildlife, tens of thousands of Missourians were contacted to determine their outdoor activities and opinions about conservation programs.
Regional Public Contact Offices—$3,199,101 Provided regional public contact offices.
Administrative Services and Human Resources—$36,009,544 Paid for human resources, federal reimbursement administration, hunting and fishing permit point-of-sale system, fiscal services, distribution center, print shop, fleet management, vehicle and equipment maintenance centers and information management and technology. Also includes other agency appropriations, Department-wide equipment and other essential services.
Design and Development—$12,149,619 Provided engineering, architectural, surveying and construction services for conservation programs and maintenance of conservation areas and facilities.
Administration—$3,198,077 Paid for audits, legal counsel and the coordination of strategic planning, environmental policy development, cultural resource reviews, public involvement and river basin management.
Editor In Chief - Ara Clark
Managing Editor - Nichole LeClair
Art Director - Cliff White
Writer/Editor - Tom Cwynar
Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Artist - Dave Besenger
Artist - Mark Raithel
Circulation - Laura Scheuler