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Saving Our Best Streams

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Published on: Nov. 2, 2009

Last revision: Dec. 17, 2009

stream. These acquisition projects not only help protect streams but put more land in the public trust for the enjoyment of citizens.

Investing in Your Conservation Legacy

The Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization created in 1997 to meet financial demands placed on Missouri’s natural resources. It advances the conservation and appreciation of Missouri’s forest, fish and wildlife resources by matching financial resources with the priorities of donors, the Foundation and the Missouri Department of Conservation. The Foundation receives funding not only from the Stream Stewardship Trust Fund but also from Conservation Heritage license plate sales, grants and individual donations.

“Missourians are fortunate to have the conservation sales tax to help fund worthy projects and activities of the Department,” says Foundation Director Rick Thom. “But sales tax revenues are tied to the economy and cannot always keep pace with needs.”

This is why the Foundation was created—to provide an additional stream of revenue for conservation, and to provide donors with an easy way to contribute to conservation initiatives that are important to them. “If you love fishing and you want to help fund fishing opportunities for kids, you can earmark your donation for that,” says Thom. “The same goes for stream protection, hunting clinics, hiking trails, bird habitat protection and scores of other projects—we help donors invest in the kind of conservation legacy they want to leave for others.”

From all funding sources to date, the Foundation has raised more than $8 million. Conservation Department staff members apply for Foundation funding for projects they initiate or that they endorse on behalf of partner groups. These projects immediately address conservation and outdoor recreation needs. The Foundation board of directors—composed of conservation, community and business leaders—oversees funding decisions.

“The Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation provides an excellent charitable option for people who are committed to conservation and outdoor recreation,” says Julius Wall, Foundation president. “People support us with individual donations or by purchasing a conservation heritage license plate. We invite all who love Missouri to leave a better conservation landscape for future generations.”

Landowner’s Love of Land Protects Stream and Drinking Water

Thomas Mohan and his wife, Rebecca, have lived on their farm in Macon County for 30 years. They love the natural beauty of Long Branch Creek, which flows through their 88 acres, and the forested corridor that flanks the stream. “We want to be sure this land is not developed—no matter who might own it in the future," says Mohan. "We want it to stay the way we have enjoyed it.”

When Mohan learned about the Stream Stewardship Trust Fund from Fisheries Management Biologist Darren Thornhill, he understood that this funding source might allow him to fulfill his conservation plans for his land. Thornhill and other conservation professionals are eager to help landowners who want to conserve their land, which helps with statewide conservation goals. Protecting Long Branch Creek is especially important because it flows into Long Branch Lake, which provides fishing opportunities and drinking water for the city of Macon and surrounding rural areas.

The project received Trust Fund dollars, which paid for a perpetual conservation easement on 22 acres of Mohan’s land and construction of a reinforced rock crossing over the creek. “Mr. Mohan might have put in a culvert to create a stream crossing,” says Thornhill, “but that would have impeded fish movement in the stream and created erosion.” Now, with his fish-friendly crossing, Mohan can access the 25 acres across the stream and manage the riparian forest there to further benefit Long Branch Creek.

Mohan told his upstream neighbor, Robert Wyatt, about the Stream Stewardship Trust Fund. “He was so enthusiastic,” says Mohan, “he nearly beat me in getting his project completed.” With assistance from Thornhill, Trust Fund dollars enabled a perpetual easement along Wyatt’s 42 acres of stream frontage, as well as two stream crossings.

Wyatt, along with his son and grandsons, uses his 151-acre property for hunting. “I don’t intend for the land to be farmed,” says Wyatt, “I maintain it for wildlife.” The protected riparian corridor, as well as his 20 acres planted with warm-season grasses, will ensure that Wyatt continues to enjoy quail, deer and turkey on his property. And all the while, he is protecting the quality of a Missouri stream that contributes to the welfare of thousands of citizens downstream.

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