News & Events

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by Jim Low

Be a Turkey Counter!

Would you like to help ensure the best possible management of Missouri’s world-class wild-turkey flock? You can, by volunteering to help with the annual wild-turkey brood survey. Using survey cards, participants record turkey observations throughout the summer. The survey provides information that helps the Conservation Department track wild turkeys' nesting success.

Biologists use information from the survey to make decisions about hunting seasons and limits.

The only requirement to participate in the survey is that volunteers must be able to accurately identify wild turkeys as either hens, poults (young turkeys), or gobblers. To participate, send an email to Martha.McCrary@mdc.mo.gov. Write “Wild Turkey Brood Survey” in the subject line, and include your name and mailing address. You can also send your name and address to: Wild Turkey Brood Survey, Missouri Department of Conservation, 3500 E. Gans Road, Columbia, MO 65201.

The Conservation Department will send you three observation cards to record your turkey sightings during June, July, and August. At the end of each month, simply drop the postage-paid card in the mail. The Department will take care of the rest. Participants who sign up after April 30 will not receive survey cards for all three months.

The Conservation Department has conducted the wild turkey brood survey since 1959, not long after turkey restoration efforts began. In addition to Conservation Department staff, thousands of dedicated citizen volunteers participate in the survey each year. If you enjoy watching wild turkeys during the summer months, please consider signing up to participate in the wild turkey brood survey. By doing so, you will help the Conservation Department manage one of the state’s most cherished recreational and economic resources.

New Nature Center Web Camera

The Conservation Department has a new way to help you discover nature online through the Runge Conservation Nature Center web camera. Common critters you may see on the camera are squirrels, birds, turkeys, and deer. To check it out, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/21349.

How's the Fishing?

If you fish at Table Rock Lake, we need your help evaluating the effectiveness of efforts to improve the lake's fish habitat and fishing. From 2007 through 2012, the Conservation Department partnered with Bass Pro Shops, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to create more than 2,000 fish-attracting structures at Table Rock Lake. These took the form of submerged brush piles, rock structures, and stump fields. The structures were marked in various ways, including signs and published GPS coordinates.

The goal was to create places where fish would thrive and anglers could focus their fishing efforts. To see how well the structures are working, the Conservation Department is asking anglers to complete a brief online survey at surveymonkey.com/s/VLYYGM6.

The survey asks about participants’ fishing interests, how they use the fish-attracting structures, and how well they think the structures work. Anglers’ answers will help the Conservation Department understand what kinds of structures work best, what is the best depth for different fish species, and answer other important questions.

The project is part of the National Fish Habitat Initiative. For more information, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/16345, and click on “Building Better Fishing.”

Apply Soon for TRIM Grants

The Conservation Department is offering grants to assist government agencies, public schools, and non-profit groups with the management, improvement, and conservation of trees and forests on public land.

The Tree Resource Improvement and Maintenance (TRIM) cost-share grants can help communities fund tree inventories, removal or pruning of hazardous trees, tree planting, and the training of volunteers and city or county employees to best care for community forests.

The program provides reimbursements of $1,000 to $10,000 to grant recipients to fund up to 60 percent of money needed for projects. Projects located in communities with The Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City USA designation are eligible for an additional 10 percent in matching funds. Proposals are assessed on a competitive basis for their value to the community, thoroughness as a tree-management program, the ability to promote, improve and develop a community's urban forest, and economic feasibility.

TRIM applicants must submit a completed application by June 1 that details project costs and funding sources, maps and drawings of the project site, a three-year maintenance plan for the project, and a letter of approval from the governmental body owning the proposed project site.

The Conservation Department will hold TRIM grant workshops at the following sites:

  • The Conservation Department’s Southwest Regional Office at 2630 N. Mayfair Ave., Springfield, April 4, from 9 a.m. to noon. To register, contact MDC Urban Forester Cindy Garner at 417-895-6881 ext. 1632, or Cindy.Garner@mdc.mo.gov.
  • Runge Conservation Nature Center, 330 Commerce Drive, Jefferson City, April 10, from 9:30 a.m. to noon. To register, contact Resource Forester Angela Belden at 573-592-1400 ext. 4, or Angela.Belden@mdc.mo.gov.
  • Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center, 11715 Cragwold Road, Kirkwood, May 1, at 6 p.m. To register, contact Urban Forester Mark Grueber at 314-301-1506, ext. 4210, or Mark.Grueber@mdc.mo.gov.

Ameren Says WOW to Wildlife

The Conservation Department, in partnership with Ameren Missouri, has created a program to preserve and enhance wildlife habitat on land beneath Ameren’s electric transmission lines. Called Wires Over Wildlife (WOW), the new program encourages property owners to manage land for wildlife habitat under transmission lines.

With project approval from Ameren Missouri right-of-way maintenance supervisors, Conservation Department staff provides technical assistance, with Ameren cost-sharing with the participating property owners to reduce the costs of wildlife friendly management. Habitat work focuses on restoring natural wildlife communities and establishing vegetative cover that helps reduce under-line maintenance while increasing electric transmission reliability.

Conservation Department staff provides advice, and Ameren reimburses participating property owners to reduce costs of wildlife-friendly management. Habitat work focuses on restoring natural wildlife communities.

Wires Over Wildlife is one of many ways MDC works with and for Missourians to sustain healthy forests, fish, and wildlife. This partnership with landowners adds valuable wildlife habitat on private land while reducing landowner costs.

Ameren Missouri also builds eagle nesting boxes, improves songbird habitat, installs swan diverters, and helps with a banding program for peregrine falcons.

Property owners whose land may be eligible for the program can contact the nearest Conservation Department office for more information. To find an office near you, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/19935.

Boaters: Beware of Hitchhikers

The spread of zebra mussels from the Great Lakes to Missouri waters could have profound consequences for Show-Me State anglers and boaters. They can damage boat motors and other marine equipment, clog water intakes, and smother native mussels. They also eat plankton, the same microscopic plants and animals that are the foundation of the food chain for bass, crappie, catfish, and other aquatic animals. Boaters have a critical role to play in preventing ecological damage by this invasive, exotic species. Visit mdc.mo.gov/node/4681 to learn how to avoid spreading these and other dangerous exotics.

CFM Honors Conservationists

The Conservation Federation of Missouri honored 12 individuals and one organization for outstanding conservation achievements at its annual meeting, including two MDC employees.

Fisheries Division Chief Chris Vitello, Holts Summit, received the Conservation Federation of Missouri’s Conservationist of the Year Award for his work on a host of conservation issues and his role in making Missouri a great place to fish through improvements in management of smallmouth bass, trout, and catfish and in fish habitat in Missouri lakes and streams.

Outreach and Education Chief Regina Knauer, Jefferson City, received the Conservation Educator of the Year Award for helping Missourians learn about nature in the roles of volunteer naturalist, education consultant, outdoor skills specialist, outdoor skills coordinator, education programs and curriculum supervisor, and leader of developing the Discover Nature Schools curriculum.

Also honored by the Conservation Federation of Missouri were:

  • Bob Whitehead, St. Louis, Conservation Communicator of the Year
  • Retired Conservation Department Forester John Fleming, Jefferson City,
  • Forest Conservationist of the Year
  • Vance Vanderwerken,
  • Savannah,
  • Wildlife Conservationist of the Year
  • Dan Fuller, Pineville,
  • Youth Conservationist of the Year
  • State Senator Tom Dempsey, St. Charles,
  • and State Representative Eric Burlison, Springfield,
  • Conservation Legislators of the Year
  • The late Allan Hoover, Pleasant Hill,
  • Hunter Education Instructor of the Year
  • George Sims, Mansfield,
  • Water Conservationist of the Year
  • Kelly Srigley-Werner, Columbia,
  • Professional Conservationist of the Year
  • Richard Fordyce, Bethany,
  • Soil Conservationist of the Year
  • The Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives, Jefferson City, Conservation Organization of the Year

The Conservation Federation of Missouri is a citizen conservation group representing more than 93,000 individuals and 80 affiliate groups from hunters and anglers to birdwatchers. Anyone can nominate candidates for a Conservationist of the Year Award. For more information, call 573-634-2322 or visit confedmo.org.

Dogwood Splendor Coming

Want to take a drive to enjoy the annual spectacle of Missouri’s flowering trees? Try one of these routes:

  • Highway 19 between Montgomery City and Thayer
  • Highway 5 between Versailles and Gainesville
  • Highway 142 between Doniphan and Bakersfield
  • Highway 72 between Cape Girardeau and Rolla
  • Highway 63 between Kingdom City and Thayer
  • I-44 between Eureka and Rolla
  • Highway 50 between Eureka and Jefferson City
  • Highway 60 between Poplar Bluff and Springfield

Redbud trees blossom first, sending out rose-purple clusters as soon as late March. Dogwood blossoming normally peaks in mid-April near the Arkansas border and two to three weeks later in northern counties.

Duck Creek Gets a Facelift

Phase 1 of renovations at Duck Creek Conservation Area (CA) is complete. That is great news for hunters, birdwatchers, and wildlife photographers. It’s also great for all ducks and other birds that depend on the areas to sustain them on their annual migrations. The two adjoining areas comprise half of southeast Missouri’s remaining wetland habitat.

Both Duck Creek CA and Mingo National Wildlife Refuge are more than 60 years old. Many of the two areas’ water-control structures were worn out or inefficient. The renovations will restore more natural wetland conditions and enhance the areas’ wildlife habitat and recreational value.

Phase 1 began in 2010 and involved replacing worn out and damaged water-control structures and notching levees to restore the natural flood flow patterns. The changes also will provide flood relief for neighboring landowners.

This cooperative effort of the Conservation Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was funded with a grant from the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. For more information, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/8656.

Share the Harvest Tops 3 Million Pounds

Missouri hunters passed the 3-million pound mark in charitable meat donations during the 2012-2013 hunting season. Hunters have been donating venison to food pantries and other charities through the Share the Harvest program since 1992.

Share the Harvest, started by the Columbia Area Archers and the St. Louis Longbeards Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation in 1992, grew rapidly after the Conservation Federation of Missouri and the Conservation Department adopted it. Now STH nets more than 200,000 pounds of venison yearly.

So far, Conservation Federation of Missouri has recorded Share the Harvest donations totaling more than 300,000 pounds from the 2012-2013 hunting season. That pushes all-time Share the Harvest donations over 3 million pounds.

Financial support from the Conservation Department and other sponsors help pay for processing whole deer donated to the program, making donations free for thousands of hunters. This year, hunters donated more than 6,000 whole deer. The result is lean, high-protein food for needy Missourians.

For more information, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/2544, or call 573-634-2322.

Did You Know?

Conservation makes Missouri a great place to fish.

Helping You Discover Nature Through Fishing

  • 1,410,735 trout stocked by Conservation Department cold-water hatcheries in 2012. These fish were distributed in five trout parks, 12 stream special management areas, and Lake Taneycomo.
  • 6,146,746 warm-water fish stocked by Conservation Department hatcheries in 2012. Species stocked include hybrid striped bass, muskie, pallid sturgeon, paddlefish, largemouth bass, hybrid sunfish, channel catfish, and walleye.
  • Buy permits online for easy and immediate purchase, printing, and use, visit mdc.mo.gov/9258. People can also buy permits from vendors, and by phone by calling toll free 1-800-392-4115.
  • Free Find MO Fish phone application shows you a map of Missouri with the boat ramps to the major lakes, rivers, and streams. It also shows you the location of underwater fish structures that act as fish habitat the Conservation Department has established. With the geo-location feature, you can guide your boat to a fish attractor and start fishing. For more information and links to download the application, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/15421.
  • The Statewide Weekly Fishing report is published from the first Thursday in April through September. The report gives general fishing conditions at selected lakes, rivers, and trout parks across Missouri. To receive a weekly email of the report, sign up at mdc.mo.gov/fish/fishrt/.
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