Whether feeding birds or watching wildlife, hunting, canoeing and boating, target shooting, fishing or spending time at a nature center, Missourians are dedicated to the outdoors.
Opportunities to participate in these and other activities within Missouri should not be taken for granted. The vision, passion and commitment of Missouri’s citizens for forest, fish and wildlife resources have shaped the conservation services and experiences enjoyed today. The following points provide insight into Missouri’s nationally recognized conservation program.
Missouri’s citizens have taken unique and proactive steps to support and enhance conservation efforts. A citizen-led initiative petition, resulting in passage of a constitutional amendment, created the Conservation Commission in 1936. This action created the constitutional mandate that guides Department efforts to a) protect and manage the forest, fish and wildlife resources, b) serve the public and facilitate participation in resource management activities, and c) provide opportunities for all citizens to use, enjoy and learn about forest, fish and wildlife resources. In 1976, a successful citizen-led effort to provide dedicated funding, through a 1/8 of 1 cent sales tax, greatly enhanced strategic and long-term management of forest, fish and all wildlife species.
Citizens have created a Conservation Department that “pays its way.” The Department continues to—and must—live within its financial means. The Department operates on a budget that is less than 0.7 percent of Missouri’s total state budget. This fiscal year, the 1/8 of 1 cent Conservation Sales Tax will generate approximately $92 million—funds that are earmarked and spent to make fish and wildlife abundant and forests sustainable. No dollars are received from the state government general revenue fund.
Missourians value wildlife recreation, hunting and fishing experiences. There is an $11.4 billion annual impact from Missouri’s fish and wildlife-related recreation and our forestry industries. As a result, forest, fish and wildlife expenditures generate more than $439 million in state and local taxes (much more than the 1/8 of 1 cent sales tax generates). In addition, forest, fish and wildlife resources support more than 95,000 Missouri jobs.
The Conservation Department is not immune to economic downturns. When revenues are down for the state, they are down for the Department. The Department has taken strategic and prudent steps to address revenue shortfalls during the past year. Examples include a reduction in salaried positions, modification of some services and select office closures.
Citizens have created a Conservation Department that is the envy of the nation. That is because Missouri’s system serves every county and maintains the necessary infrastructure to support services. The Department serves both rural and urban citizens through a variety of educational programs, including hunter education, landowner technical assistance, intense training for rural volunteer firefighters and much more. Citizen support of programs and services, provided by a dedicated and high-quality conservation staff, ensures fish and wildlife are abundant, forests sustainable and our waters healthy.
Missouri’s quality of life—not to mention economy—is built on our diverse, high-quality and abundant natural resources like productive water, healthy forests, abundant fish and wildlife and rich soils. A recent survey revealed that more than 70 percent of Missourians feel the Department of Conservation is doing an excellent or good job of providing services to the state.
Missouri’s citizen-created Conservation Department is something to feel good about and something to value. Thank you for your commitment. The future of our state’s conservation success story is dependent on continued citizen support— the cornerstone of Missouri’s conservation experience.
Robert L. Ziehmer, director
Editor In Chief - Ara Clark
Managing Editor - Nichole LeClair Terrill
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