Note To Our Readers
The early December winds howled as I awoke earlier than normal. Weeks before, my grandfather had given me some old wooden box traps. Based on advice provided by my grandfather, I had set the box traps in the backyard hoping to have success. Anticipation ran high as I quickly completed morning tasks so I could check traps before school. Trapping rabbits was a new and exciting outdoor adventure for me in the mid-1970s.
As we start 2013, my resolution is to make time for at least one new outdoor adventure each month. In addition, as adventures are identified and pursued, I will work to engage others. This New Year’s resolution will help encourage continued learning and enhanced appreciation of Missouri’s forest, fish, and wildlife resources. Over the years, past adventures have been diverse ranging from camping along a river, visiting an eagle’s nest, crawling through a cave, learning identification skills for trees and grasses, wildlife photography, implementing projects to enhance wildlife habitat, completing night hikes, and mentoring others on hunts.
Your Conservation Department provides opportunities for active citizen involvement in conservation and works to maintain healthy forest, fish, and wildlife. Here are a few outdoor adventures to consider in 2013:
- Visit a Conservation Area: We offer more than 900 conservation areas throughout the state, with at least one within a 30-minute drive of any community. MDC works to maintain healthy forest and wildlife by conducting more than 200,000 acres of habitat management on conservation areas each year with an emphasis on natural community, waterfowl, dove, and early successional habitat management.
- Tour a designated natural area: These areas represent the best examples of Missouri’s forests, woodlands, savannas, prairies, glades, wetlands, caves, springs, and rivers. There are 180 designated natural areas totaling 72,060 acres in 74 counties.
- Go Fishing: Missouri has more than 110,000 miles of streams and more than 275,000 acres of public lakes for citizens to use and enjoy. To provide close-to-home fishing access MDC stocks millions of fish each year in public waters, maintains more than 300 boat ramps, and manages more than 900 public lakes and stream areas to provide a high quality fishing experience.
- Catch a Trout: Missouri offers world-class trout fishing at four trout parks, 120 miles of spring-fed trout streams, Lake Taneycomo, and winter trout areas in nine cities.
- Hike a Trail: MDC maintains about 730 miles of designated trails on conservation areas and more than 70 unstaffed and five staffed shooting ranges for outdoor recreational use.
- Discover Nature: Each year MDC hosts more than 2,000 programs on hunting, fishing, trapping, and shooting sports, with more than 114,000 people attending annually. More than 1 million individuals have graduated from the Missouri Hunter Education Program.
- Volunteer: Each year, 10,000 to 12,000 citizens volunteer more than 250,000 hours to MDC programs such as Stream Teams, Forestkeepers, Master Naturalists, hunter education, nature centers, and shooting ranges.
What inspired this 2013 resolution? It was a recent fish gigging trip—my first ever. I learned much on this outing. A friend graciously offered to take me. The December evening found us on the Gasconade River. As our boat moved slowly upstream, I was reminded of the many benefits provided by Missouri’s amazing forest, fish, and wildlife. Anticipation ran high as I was about to experience a new outdoor adventure— adding to my understanding and appreciation of our great state.
I challenge all Missourians to make more time to get outside in 2013. Missouri has much to offer. The experiences and adventures will enhance life, ensure continued learning, and create lasting memories.
Be sure to take photos as you go afield. In the near future, watch for details about how to enter the “kids in nature” photo contest. I look forward to seeing your submissions.
Robert L. Ziehmer, director