Note To Our Readers

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Wetlands are dynamic, complex ecosystems that benefit both people and wildlife, and they serve as a cornerstone for Missouri citizens’ progressive and proactive conservation philosophy.

For decades, Missourians have worked to improve and enhance this critical habitat.

Missouri’s wetlands are featured in this issue of the Conservationist, highlighting some of our state’s great conservation successes. Missouri’s Golden Anniversary Wetland Initiative has produced significant improvements at some of Missouri’s oldest managed wetlands including Montrose, Ted Shanks and Fountain Grove conservation areas (CAs). Wetland improvements are also occurring on Duck Creek CA and will occur on Schell Osage CA. They are all being renovated to improve their capability and capacity. Retired Wildlife Manager Dick Vaught said it well when he stated, “No two wetland areas were alike when we built them, and no two will be alike as we return to give them new life.” This initiative will improve these great early wetlands and ensure they remain vital threads in our state’s wetland fabric.

Partnerships are extremely important in wetland development. Missouri citizens play a key role along with organizations like Ducks Unlimited (DU) and several federal agencies. In a joint project with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, wetland enhancement work will begin on Ted Shanks CA this spring. DU and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have had tremendous success protecting wetlands, especially in the Missouri and Mississippi River confluence area. DU is a longtime wetland partner whose mission of habitat conservation fits perfectly with the wetland vision Missouri citizens are working to implement in the state.

Do Missouri landowners support wetland restoration? Absolutely! Missouri landowners have enrolled 141,200 acres in the USDA’s Wetland Reserve Program over the past several years. The USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program has added thousands of additional acres of wetlands to Missouri’s landscape. Many of these private wetlands occur in the floodplain of Missouri’s rivers and streams. These wetlands act as filters as water cycles through them, and they can serve as storage for excess floodwater that might otherwise damage communities and rural ground. Across the nation communities are attempting to restore natural wetlands to reduce flood damage. People are realizing the value of these wetlands and trying to preserve them.

Federal agencies, such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, are great partners to Missouri’s citizens and wetlands. Missouri is home to six National Wildlife Refuges (NWR) that provide important wetland habitat across the state. Mingo, Squaw Creek and Swan Lake NWRs are legendary waterfowl areas that also support many different species of fish and wildlife. The Big Muddy, Clarence Canon and Great River NWRs all provide both habitat and recreational opportunities for Missouri citizens. NWRs provide some of the best bird-watching opportunities in our state and the nation.

Missouri’s wetlands improve water quality, serve as stopovers during fall and spring migrations of millions of birds and provide critical habitat for many fish and wildlife species. Enjoy this month’s wetland features, including the Reader Photo of a sandhill crane at Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area on Page 2; the feature article, A New Day Dawns for Missouri Wetlands on Page 11; a list of state wetlands on Page 14; Noppadol Paothong’s feature and photo essay, Eagles on the Mississippi on Page 23; and the back cover highlighting Steve Fisher mentoring his son Corey, “the Next Generation” of conservation.

Help your Department celebrate its 75th anniversary this year by getting involved, learning more about Missouri conservation and visiting one of Missouri’s many wetland jewels. Every Missourian is a partner in conservation. Missourians’ passion for fish, forest and wildlife help define the conservation philosophy and ethic that Missourians are famous for throughout the nation. An engaged citizenry means a higher quality of life for all Missourians!

Tim D. Ripperger, deputy director

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