From the Missouri Conservationist Magazine
March 2008 Issue

Clean Water

Stream Team: Bob & Lyda Steiert

  • Stream Team #: 304
  • Date formed: Aug. 21, 1992
  • Location: Little Blue River
  • For more info about Stream Teams: see links listed below.

Stream conservation has been a career and a passion for Bob Steiert. After 39.5 years with federal environmental agencies, he set out to see what he could do as a citizen activist. One of his goals has been amassing 15 years of monthly water-quality data on the Little Blue River to help statistical analyses of the stream’s water quality. He now has 13 years of data.

Steiert also carried over one career interest, the effects of winter highway de-icing on streams, to his Stream Team work. He says being outside year-round has unexpected rewards, such as watching a pioneering beaver swim right past him on its way up the Little Blue. “I am a civil engineer,” he says. “I started out working on F-4H Phantom fighters, F-111 bombers and the Gemini space capsule for McDonnell Douglas. That was boring compared to my work on streams.”

Prevent Fish Kills

Pond owners can take action now to save their fish.

Pond owners can protect their fish by watching for conditions that cause fish kills.

  • Shallow water—Ponds should be at least 8 feet deep. Dredge to restore depth.
  • Excess vegetation—Vegetation should not cover more than 15 percent of a pond’s surface area. Remove excess vegetation with a rake, and dump it below the dam.
  • Overpopulation—If your pond has too many small fish, make a point of taking lots home and eating them.

For more information, contact your regional Conservation Department office.

Mussels—Aquatic Canaries

Their decline warns of larger stream problems.

Early coal miners took canaries underground because the birds were sensitive to noxious gasses. When a canary keeled over, miners fled. Missouri streams have their own “canaries.” Fresh-water mussels are especially sensitive to changes in water quality. They get food and oxygen from water, and—like caged canaries—they can’t pick up and leave when their environment deteriorates. Of Missouri’s 69 mussel species, 30 are species of “conservation concern.” Ten are state-endangered, and six are federally endangered. Five have not been seen in 10 or 20 years and may no longer exist in Missouri. We are not sure why. Dams hurt species that need running water. Soil erosion and pollution hurt all mussels, which can’t survive in contaminated water or if they are covered in mud. Mussels have value beyond their ability to alert us to environmental problems. They get food by filtering particles out of the water. In some streams, this filtering equals stream flow, helping keep water clean. Also, mussels are an important link in the food chain, feeding crayfish, fish and mammals.

Also in this issue

The Family That Hunts Together...

The shared language of turkey talk keeps the Parnell family close.

 

Spirit of the Prairie

Will there be a tomorrow for prairie chickens to dance again?

The Right Tree in the Right Place

“Plant trees. They give us two of the most crucial elements for our survival: oxygen and books.”—A. Whitney Brown

This Issue's Staff:

Editor in Chief - Ara Clark
Managing Editor - Nichole LeClair
Art Director - Cliff White
Writer/editor - Tom Cwynar
Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Staff Writer - Arleasha Mays
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Ruby
Artist - Dave Besenger
Artist - Mark Raithel
Circulation - Laura Scheuler