Every Cog and Wheel

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Published on: Sep. 2, 2009

Last revision: Dec. 15, 2010

of the land to eliminate them. As Aldo Leopold, the father of wildlife management in the U.S., said, “To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.” Both the rare species and some of their remaining intact habitats must be protected if we are to pass on our state’s natural heritage to successive generations.

Rare Missouri plant benefits from power line project

Missouri bladderpod (Physaria filiformis) is a small, yellow-flowered plant in the mustard family. It grows only on rocky, limestone-derived soils in southwest Missouri as well as in a few areas of Arkansas. When a project is planned in the area with known records of bladderpod, the species is identified as possibly occurring there, if suitable habitat exists. When a federal power administration office planned brush-control maintenance of its power line easement several years ago, planners requested Natural Heritage information for their right-of-way. No records for bladderpod were known from the right-of-way, but, because the route fell within the Missouri bladderpod area of concern, the species was brought to the agency’s attention and its habitat was described. Review of aerial photography of the power line right-of-way led to the identification of several areas of possibly suitable habitat. When checked by ground surveys, a previously-unknown site for the then federally-endangered species was discovered. Maintenance for that site was tailored to benefit the bladderpod, whereas traditional methods could be used for the remaining right-of-way. A new site was discovered and protected due to the appropriate use of the Natural Heritage Program information.

Serving Nature & You

A strategic goal of the Conservation Department, as well as its constitutional mandate, requires us to conserve the state’s plants and animals and their habitats. A public opinion survey conducted in 2003 indicated that 79 percent of Missourians agree that the Department should conserve and restore rare and endangered plants. The rarest and most threatened of these resources are the ones in greatest need of protection. The goal is to maintain Missouri’s rich biological diversity, from the most obscure cavesnail to our impressive national symbol, the bald eagle. The myriad plant and animal species in our care occur within, and depend upon, a variety of habitats, including prairies, forests, woodlands, glades, cliffs, caves, streams and wetlands. The Missouri Natural Heritage Program allows us to identify what is rare, where those rare elements are located, and what our options are for maintaining these unique pieces of our natural history.

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