A conservation lifestyle means more than enjoying Missouri’s outstanding natural resources. Being a conservationist means striving to increase knowledge, understanding the conservation issues those important local, statewide, and national issues. Past Missourians have laid a great foundation for us to stand on and build a brighter conservation future. It’s our challenge and duty not to tarnish but to build upon that great conservation legacy.
How do we engage? As some of my friends say, “Let’s give back to the resource.” Start with your daily support through your words and actions. Speak about conservation and its benefits to others who haven’t had the opportunity to learn about the outdoors. Be an ethical outdoors person who abides by sporting rules and regulations and mentors the next generation of conservationists.
Be proactive with your time and resources. Get involved at the local level with conservation-related organizations and groups. Being an active member who shares your time and resources with these organizations will help grow conservation programs within the state.
Have a passion and a cause. If fishing is important to you, then clean, healthy waters are a must! If waterfowl is your passion, then Missouri wetlands, breeding areas, and wintering areas must be protected for the myriad of wetland species! If hiking is your passion, then healthy forests and streams must be protected to provide future generations the same opportunity! For every outdoor passion, there’s an avenue to improve conservation and to conserve resources for future generations.
Be informed and proactive with your knowledge and comments. In a recent national survey, 2.5 million hunters, anglers, and wildlife watchers spent almost 35 million days enjoying Missouri’s natural resources. Those same outdoor enthusiasts spend more than $2.5 billion annually enjoying Missouri’s outdoors.
Outdoor opportunities abound in late winter — get outdoors. Missouri’s winter trout fishing, early crappie fishing, and the trout park opener on March 1 can jump-start the fishing season. Eagle watching opportunities still exist along Missouri’s waterways and new outdoor photography opportunities unfold daily. Now is a great time for a winter float or hiking one of Missouri’s conservation areas such as Pickle Springs. Take your family on a winter walk as highlighted in this issue.
Looking for hands-on opportunities to improve conservation? Get involved with volunteer groups. Volunteering with the Department through the Master Naturalist program, nature centers, Stream Teams, or the Hunter Education program builds future conservationists. The Department works with many volunteer groups who promote the outdoors. Helping out at a youth clinic, a women’s outdoor program, or at an elderly or a disabled conservation event helps promotes conservation to many outstanding Missourians.
As 2014 continues to unfold, ask yourself, “What have I done to promote conservation? What can I do this year?” I encourage each of you to take action, pledge your time, and work ardently to conserve fish, forest, and wildlife resources for future generations. Let’s leave Missouri’s waters cleaner, Missouri’s forests healthier, and Missouri’s fish and wildlife more abundant for our children, grandchildren, and future Missourians.
Tim Ripperger, deputy director
Editor In Chief - Ara Clark
Managing Editor - Nichole LeClair Terrill
Art Director - Cliff White
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Artist - Mark Raithel
Circulation - Laura Scheuler