MDC is celebrating the 75th anniversary of putting the state’s citizen-led conservation efforts into action. In this issue, we highlight MDC’s conservation areas and the Department’s other public land stewardship efforts that benefit the state’s people and wildlife.
Healthy waters are one of the foundations of our quality of life. We are fortunate to live in a state that has abundant water resources, from the meandering bends of the country’s two largest rivers to clear Ozark streams. Missouri has more than 110,000 miles of streams, about 276,000 acres of public lakes and about 300,000 small private ponds. The state bubbles with a thousand springs, including some of the largest in the world. Ensuring that these waters stay healthy benefits our communities, our neighbors downstream and the state’s fish and wildlife.
“What is truly amazing is that even though just 2 percent of the state is water, at the same time that our population has doubled, we’ve seen many of those waters improve through conservation efforts. That is a tremendous accomplishment,” says Joe Dillard, retired MDC fisheries biologist. “That benefits our anglers and our communities as well as the fish and wildlife that depend on our state’s streams, rivers and reservoirs.”
MISSOURI’S VAST AND DIVERSE WATERWAYS
Our state has one of the greatest varieties of freshwater fish in the nation. The state’s waterways connect anglers with a wide assortment of sport fish, from smallmouth bass in spring-fed Ozark streams to big catfish lurking in our northern streams and in the murky waters of our big rivers. From countless ponds, lakes and reservoirs, we fill our pastimes with friends and families, hoping to reel in a keeper.
Fishing continues to be one of our most popular outdoor activities. More than 22 percent of Missouri residents fish sometime during the year. But healthy waters do more than just support great fishing. Missourians depend on both surface water and groundwater sources for drinking water and other uses. Half of the state, including Kansas City and St. Louis, use surface water for their drinking water. The Missouri River is the source of tap water for more than a million people. And many rural Missourians get their tap water from wells.
“Ensuring healthy waters involves many things,” says Chris Vitello, MDC fisheries division chief. “MDC works to provide enjoyable fishing and also to maintain aquatic biodiversity, reduce the effects of nuisance species, protect waterway habitats, and inform