and with it the Department of Conservation (MDC) was formed. This new Department had constitutional authority for the management of Missouri’s forests, fish and wildlife. Over the next 75 years, the “Missouri plan” allowed the Show-Me State to build what is acknowledged as one of the nation’s top conservation programs.
But the Conservation Federation of Missouri didn’t stop there. From the original 100, its ranks have grown to tens of thousands. The Federation became known as “the strong right arm of conservation.”
“That engagement of citizens in conservation is what it’s all about. The bottom line of one of President Roosevelt’s most succinct comments is that, ‘Wildlife and its habitat cannot speak, so we must, and we will,’ ” says Dave Murphy, executive director of the Conservation Federation of Missouri.
Today, the Federation continues to actively lead and support conservation efforts in Missouri and throughout the nation. It is the state’s oldest and largest privatecitizen conservation organization, with more than 90,000 individuals and 80 affiliated groups.
Since its successful early efforts, the Federation has undertaken many other battles to ensure that Missouri remains the nation’s conservation leader. In 1976, it spearheaded a successful citizen initiative for the oneeighth of 1 percent conservation sales tax. This dedicated sales tax provides stable funding for the long-term efforts required for the conservation of fish, forests and wildlife.
“The wildlife of our state belongs to every citizen. This really has been underscored by the passage of the Design for Conservation sales tax in 1976 that formally made every citizen of our state an owner/operator, not only of wildlife but of conservation,” Murphy says. “And we have the many benefits of that, economically and otherwise. But we also have a responsibility for caring for it, and understanding it, and making sure that it continues in the future.”
To ensure that conservation remains a reality in Missouri, the Federation continues to operate as a watchdog. The Federation’s members work to enhance the future of their favorite outdoor traditions through internal committees that advise government agencies and represent conservation interests in the Missouri Legislature and Congress. But the Federation isn’t all about lobbying and constitutional amendments.
Over the years, the Federation has helped to develop and coordinate some of the most innovative and successful citizen-action programs in the world, including Missouri Stream Teams, Operation Game Thief, Project Forest Arson, Share the Harvest and the annual Conservation Leadership Corps. These opportunities have allowed Missourians to