Teamwork often begins with a handshake: friends helping friends and neighbors helping neighbors. That same spirit is at the heart of Missouri’s conservation community, which includes thousands of individuals making a difference for Missouri’s fish, forest and wildlife in their own unique way.
Conservation partnerships create a sum that is greater than its parts. Working together leverages the limited resources available to benefit the most wildlife species and habitat. Partnerships are vitally important for conservation to work in Missouri, because the Conservation Department is relatively small compared to other state agencies. MDC’s entire budget is less than 1 percent of the entire state government budget. No money from the state’s general revenue goes to the Department. Partnerships are able to extend the reach of conservation work into areas that would otherwise be impossible.
“The management of Missouri’s fish, forests and wildlife involves partnerships with citizens, organizations and other agencies,” says MDC Director Robert L. Ziehmer. “We value citizen involvement, which truly serves as the backbone of Missouri’s conservation successes.”
Two Important Partners: The Federation and the Foundation
Two important partnerships in conserving fish, forest and wildlife resources are the Conservation Federation of Missouri and the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation. These groups enhance the work of conservationists throughout the state. Other important partnerships involving volunteers, state and federal agencies, and other conservation organizations are highlighted throughout this article.
Conservation Federation of Missouri
Up until the early 1900s, natural resources were thought of as something that might eventually disappear. Early fish and wildlife management approaches attempted to stretch out dwindling resources, rather than to improve wildlife populations and create habitat. Then, in the early 1900s, President Theodore Roosevelt recognized “conservation through wise use” as a public responsibility, and recognized science as a tool for fulfilling that responsibility.
A new era of conservation-minded leaders, sportsmen and citizens were beginning to form a strategy to bring back wildlife. On Sept. 10, 1935, nearly 100 forward thinking Missourians gathered at Columbia’s Tiger Hotel to discuss the sad state of Missouri’s fish, forests and wildlife. They formed the Conservation Federation of Missouri and launched a movement to revolutionize natural resource management.
They worked tirelessly to put a proposal for a new science-based Conservation Commission on the ballot. On Nov. 3, 1936, voters approved the measure by one of the largest margins by which any amendment to the state constitution had ever passed.
On July 1, 1937, the constitutional amendment creating the Missouri Conservation Commission took effect,