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Making a Difference at Maramec Springs

Jim DiPardo lives just minutes from the park where he once lived and worked.

“I hear the fishing whistle at Maramec Spring go off everyday,” he says. “I can hear that horn blast; it comes right down the river.”

DiPardo serves as the chair of the Land Reclamation Commission, which oversees health and environmental regulations related to mining operations in Missouri. He also operates a sandstone quarry in nearby Rosati—the only quarry in the state that supplies builders with naturally occurring Missouri sandstone.

Last year, DiPardo got wind of a project at Maramec Spring to bolster the natural fish habitat. Using root wads salvaged from fallen trees—casualties of a recent ice storm—biologists wanted to create cover for fish in the popular fishing stream.

DiPardo said he knew just the thing to anchor the giant root wads to the stream bed. Sandstone.

He donated enough boulders to anchor about a dozen root wads and to build two sandstone pyramids on the stream bed.

The Missouri Department of Conservation manages the park’s trout fishery under an agreement with the park’s owner, the James Foundation. The Department also operates a trout hatchery on site, making the park a very popular fishing destination.

Paul Spurgeon, Maramec Spring Hatchery manager, said the sandstone fell in line with park’s mission.

“The James Foundation is really protective and tries to keep things natural,” Spurgeon says. “When we put in a stone structure or anything they want it to look as natural as possible.”

DiPardo, 61, is no stranger to the park. A graduate of MU, he was hired out of college by the James Foundation as the on-site naturalist at Maramec Spring. He lived at the park from 1978 to 1983 and continued to work as the park’s superintendent until 1988.

“It’s kind of a magical place,” he says. And when it comes to protecting Missouri’s natural resources, “the state can’t do it all, the federal government can’t do it all. It’s part of being a good steward. You want to pass it on to your heirs.”

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