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Published on: Jun. 30, 2010

Let MDC Help You Discover Nature Through a Summer "Staycation"

Looking for ways to save time and money on outdoor-adventure vacations this summer? Let the Missouri Department of Conservation help you discover nature through a “staycation” in Missouri. Birdwatcher, geocacher, hunter, angler, camper, paddler, backpacker, day hiker, cyclist, horseback rider or nature photographer—MDC has something for just about every outdoor enthusiast.

With more than 900 conservation areas, lake and river accesses and natural areas throughout Missouri, plus 18 nature and visitor centers and more than 80 shooting ranges, the trick is finding the right place.

To help you navigate this dizzying array of opportunities, MDC provides a searchable online Conservation Atlas database at www.MissouriConservation.org/2930. You can even do a “Detailed Search” for conservation areas by available activities from horseback riding to canoeing or goggle-eye fishing.

You can also filter search results by disabledaccessible offerings, designated trails or shooting ranges.

A search for “boat-in camping along the Missouri River” turns up 17 alternatives, from Atchison County to St. Louis County. Searching for areas where you can bicycle reveals 49 options, from Bollinger County to Buchanan County.

To minimize travel time and expenses, you can narrow such searches to a particular region or county. Regional searches enable staycationers to put together vacation itineraries that let them sleep in their own beds every night.

You also can choose to focus your search on available facilities and services, including visitor centers, picnic areas, pavilions, wildlife viewing blinds, boat rentals or primitive campsites. You might choose to spend your vacation visiting all 18 MDC nature and visitor centers around the state.

Or you might want to focus your search on natural features, such as lakes, ponds, glades, forests, springs or streams. An imaginary itinerary might focus on “walk-in camping” on areas with “springs” in the “Ozark Region.” This search combination turns up five areas: Carter Creek CA in Carter County, Fourche Creek CA in Ripley County, Indian Trail CA in Dent County and Rocky Creek and Sunklands CAs in Shannon County.

Replace “springs” with “designated natural areas,” and the Conservation Atlas directs you to Angeline or Rocky Creek CAs in Shannon County, Little Black, Mudpuppy or Sand Pond CAs in Ripley County or—once again—to Indian Trail or Sunklands CAs.

Changing the search combination to “hiking,” “springs” and “designated trails” gets you 25 choices scattered throughout the St. Louis, Kansas City, Southwest, Ozark and Central Missouri regions.

Boaters and anglers can choose from hundreds of fishing accesses on major lakes and rivers, plus small community lakes. A search for fishing lakes and ponds in the 12-county Kansas City region finds 72 such areas.

With the online Conservation Atlas, you can plan an exciting summer staycation tailor-made for your interests and budget. You might even find yourself taking mini-staycations throughout the year.


Funds for Loggers, Landowners

Loggers and landowners can both benefit from a new Missouri Department of Conservation pilot cost-share incentive program called the Best Management Practices Conservation Innovation Grant. The grant is funded by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. According to Conservation Department Forest Program Supervisor John Tuttle, the grants are focused on encouraging timber harvesters to implement Best Management Practices on private land timber sales in Reynolds, Iron, Shannon, Ripley, Carter and Wayne counties.

The grant is designed to be a partnership between loggers and landowners as they do business together. If approved, the cost-share would directly pay loggers $10 to $20 per acre to implement the BMPs and landowners would receive $5 per acre.

“The concept behind splitting the incentive is that the logger has the responsibility for establishing erosion prevention measures on timber sales and the equipment to implement the BMPs, and the landowner owns the property and is responsible for maintenance of the BMPs for a reasonable period of time,” Tuttle says.

BMPs were developed as a guide for loggers and landowners to combine safe logging practices with steps that will avoid damage to water quality and soil erosion associated with timber harvesting. By taking steps to learn the BMPs and implement them, the Conservation Department hopes the Conservation Innovation Grant will encourage loggers and landowners to work together in maintaining the best possible forest health and productivity.

To participate, Tuttle says loggers should sign up for the cost share program at their regional Conservation Department office (see Page 3). He says they must be a professional trained logger or attend a BMPs training class with the Conservation Department.


Conservation Hall of Fame

The late Charles E. “Ted” Shanks, a pioneering waterfowl biologist, became the 33rd member of the Missouri Conservation Hall of Fame May 28 at a ceremony in Jefferson City.

Shanks’ groundbreaking research guided the development of wetland management techniques and waterfowl hunting procedures for conservation areas. During his 21-year career with the Department, Shanks was instrumental in developing the Schell-Osage Conservation Area and public hunting at Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge and Montrose CA.

He served for many years as Missouri’s representative to the Mississippi Flyway Council Technical Section, making important contributions to the planning of cooperative research by flyway states. These pioneering studies became the basis for waterfowl management in the flyway. In 1971, the Conservation Commission recognized his efforts by establishing the Charles E. “Ted” Shanks CA.

“Ted Shanks was a dedicated professional whose lifelong commitment was driven by an intense passion for the resource and his desire to share that with the citizens of our state and country,” said Conservation Commission Chairman Chip McGeehan in remarks during the induction ceremony. “We honor his memory and achievements.”

The Conservation Hall of Fame Program honors deceased citizen conservationists and former employees of MDC and other conservation agencies who made substantial contributions to fisheries, forestry and wildlife conservation efforts in Missouri. Anyone can submit nominations. For further information or to request nomination forms, write to Director, Missouri Department of Conservation, PO Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180.


Applications for Agent Trainees

Some consider it the best job in the world. It’s also one of the most demanding. If you think you have what it takes to be a conservation agent, now is the time to try.

The Conservation Department is accepting applications for the next class of conservation agent trainees. The Protection Division will select a handful of candidates from the applicants. These select candidates will undergo 26 weeks of intensive training in all facets of law enforcement and resource management. Those who make the grade will receive county assignments and become the face of conservation in their assigned communities helping the public deal with such issues as fish kills, nuisance wildlife and land management.

To qualify, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in a field related to the natural sciences or criminal justice.

The application deadline is July 23. To apply, visit www.MissouriConservation.org/2129. If you have questions, call 573-751-4115, ext. 3819.


Lake City Range Opening

The Kansas City area has a new facility for hunters and recreational shooters. The Lake City Shooting Range and Outdoor Education Center replaces the old Lake City Range. The new facility is located at 28505 E. Truman Road, just off Highway 7, in William Landahl Park. It is a partnership with Jackson County Parks and Recreation Department. Features include:

  • A covered rifle range with 20 shooting booths, target holders at 25, 50, 75 and 100 yards with an observation area.
  • A pistol range with 10 booths and 7-, 15- and 25-yard targets.
  • Skeet and trap ranges.
  • A 12-position archery range has targets from 10 to 60 yards.
  • An education center for hunter education and firearms safety training.
  • Traps to permit recycling of lead and copper from bullets.

The new Lake City Range is open from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday from May 1 through Sept. 15 and from noon to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday from Sept. 16 through April 30. Range fees are $3 per hour for rifle, pistol, trap, skeet and archery.


Apply for Managed Deer Hunts

Deer hunters have until Aug. 15 to apply online for almost 100 various managed hunts taking place around the state from mid-September through January. Types of hunts include archery, crossbow, muzzleloading, historic methods and modern firearms—plus 12 youth hunts and 10 special hunts for persons with disabilities.

For more information on managed hunt offerings and to apply, go online to www.MissouriConservation.org/7440. With the growth of Internet access through home computers, laptops, smart phones and other technology, most hunters have Internet access—if not at home, then through family, friends, hunting partners or community locations such as public libraries. We encourage hunters to take advantage of these connections to apply for managed hunts.

Hunters may apply individually or as a group of up to six, except for youth-only hunts. For these, youths may apply singly or with one other youth.

Be sure to have the nine-digit Conservation ID number for each hunter.

You can return to the website to see if you have been selected from Sept. 14 through Dec. 31. All successful applicants also will be mailed an area map and other information regarding their hunt. Resident or nonresident managed deer hunting permits are required. Permits will be available to successful applicants after Sept. 14 anywhere permits are sold.


Tree-Planting Partnership to Celebrate Milestone

The Conservation Department and Forest ReLeaf of Missouri will celebrate the power of conservation partnerships this fall by planting their 100,000th tree together.

Forest ReLeaf was founded in 1993 as the local outgrowth of Global ReLeaf—an international project to increase tree planting. Today, Forest ReLeaf is an independent, not-for-profit organization that provides trees for public and not-forprofit plantings and promotes stewardship of the trees and forests.

The Conservation Department provides seedlings to Forest ReLeaf of Missouri from its George O. White State Forest Nursery near Licking. Forest ReLeaf pots them, grows them for two to four years and then offers them free for planting on public property each spring and fall.

Forest ReLeaf will host a special event Sept. 30 at its CommuniTree Gardens nursery in St. Louis County to celebrate the distribution of 100,000 free trees throughout Missouri and plant the 100,000th tree.

Forest ReLeaf has worked collaboratively with thousands of Missouri volunteers to grow and distribute trees for plantings in parks, neighborhoods, nonprofits and municipalities. To learn more about the programs sponsored by Forest ReLeaf, visit www.moreleaf.org.


10 Commandments dor Camping in Bear Country

When Missourians think of “bear country,” we usually picture Yellowstone National Park or the Great Smoky Mountains. However, Missouri has a growing black bear population, so bear awareness needs to be part of camping close to home, too. Bears are most common south of Interstate 44, where many of the state’s most popular camping spots are located. Campers can avoid bear problems by following these simple rules.

If a bear enters your campsite, shout, wave your arms and use an air horn or bang pots and pans to make noise. Throw rocks and sticks at the bear. If it does not leave, get in a vehicle and honk the horn. If the bear does not leave, call a conservation agent or local law-enforcement agency.

The Conservation Department wants to know about bear sightings. If you see one, please call 573-882-9880. You can find a bear reporting form at www.MissouriConservation.org/18427. For information about living with bears, visit www.MissouriConservation.org/7835.

1. NEVER FEED BEARS

Feeding breaks down black bears’ natural fear of people.

2. KEEP A CLEAN CAMP

Bears find food scraps and wrappers irresistible.

3. WASH UTENSILS AFTER COOKING

Bears’ keen sense of smell can detect food odors long after cooking is done.

4. START FOOD PREP AT HOME

Peeling and slicing vegetables, cooking meat and doing other food preparation at home reduces bear temptations in camp.

5. STORE FOOD IN AIRTIGHT CONTAINERS

Sealing up food minimizes tantalizing aromas. At night, keep food locked in a vehicle.

6. DON’T COOK OR EAT IN TENTS

With people hidden from view, a bear can mistake a tent for a food source.

7. KEEP GARBAGE SEALED UP

Double-bag refuse and lock it in a car trunk or airtight container.

8. TREAT SCENTED ITEMS LIKE FOOD

Soap, cosmetics and other scented items smell like food to bears.

9. NEVER APPROACH BEARS

Bears are potentially dangerous wildlife, not movie characters.

10. KEEP DOGS LEASHED

Bears normally flee when they encounter people, but if confronted by dogs they defend themselves.


Building Better Blue Cats at Truman Reservoir and Lake Ozark.

In our 2002 Statewide Catfish Angler Survey, nearly 50 percent of respondents who expressed an opinion indicated the quality of catfishing at Truman Reservoir had declined over the past 10 years. MDC staff also documented high harvest and slow growth of blue catfish at Truman Reservoir during our Reservoir Catfish Evaluation Project from 2003 to 2008. Research showed a blue catfish harvest rate 2 to 3 times higher than reported in similar studies nationwide.

In comparison to most other game fish species, catfish (especially blue and flathead) are long-lived and slow growing. It takes a blue catfish in Truman and Lake Ozark about 15 years to reach 31 inches in length and a weight of about 12 pounds. A 15-year-old blue catfish that is 31 inches today can easily live another 10 to 15 years and reach 60 or 80 pounds.

Due to high fishing pressure and angler harvest, the numbers of qualitysized blue catfish in Truman have steadily declined since the mid 1990s.

For slow-growing fish such as blue catfish, once a decline occurs, it takes a significant amount of time (6-7 years) to start reversing the trend and rebuilding the population.

In May, we held a series of stakeholder meetings to discuss potential blue catfish regulation changes for Truman and Lake Ozark. Those in attendance included recreational and tournament anglers, catfishing guides, organized catfish angler groups, bait shop and marina owners, media representatives, judges and prosecuting attorneys, local chambers of commerce, state representatives and other government and non-government groups such as the Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Ameren UE.

The majority of attendees at these stakeholder meetings were in favor of more protective regulations.

The potential regulations could set a daily limit of either five or 10 blue catfish and establish a protected slot length limit. Anglers would be permitted to keep either one or two blue catfish larger than the upper end of the protected slot. The possession limit would be twice the statewide daily limit.

Any regulation changes would apply to Truman Reservoir, Lake Ozark and their tributaries including the no-boating zone below Truman Dam. For the no-boating zone, flathead and channel catfish regulations would revert to the current statewide regulations of five flathead catfish and 10 channel catfish daily. The possession limit would be twice the statewide daily limit.

Because the fishery on Lake Ozark is currently in good shape compared to Truman, improvements in the fishery would occur, but would likely be less noticeable than those predicted on Truman.

For more information about potential blue catfish management changes for Truman Reservoir and Lake Ozark, visit www.MissouriConservation.org/fish/sport/catfish/bluemanage.htm. To comment on changes, please go online www.MissouriConservation.org/contact and under “Tell us what you think” click on “online comment form.”

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