The Conservation Department wants to know what you think about conservation areas (CAs) and how they should be managed. The Department is updating CA management plans and wants your comments. Drafts of individual management plans will be available at mdc.mo.gov/areaplans starting this month. This Web page also has information about how to send comments.
Area management plans focus on resource management and public use. They do not address hunting, trapping, or fishing regulations.
The Department will consider all ideas received and will work to balance the issues and interests identified with the responsibility of managing areas for the present and future benefits to forest, fish, wildlife, and people.
Decisions on which ideas to incorporate into area plans and on how to best incorporate them will be based on the property’s purpose, its physical and biological conditions and capabilities, the best roles of the property in its local, regional, and state-wide context, and on the professional expertise of Department staff.
A 16-day teal season and increased limits are the big news in this year’s federally approved early migratory bird hunting regulations. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved the teal season length and increased the daily limit from four to six blue-winged and green-winged teal in the aggregate. Missouri teal season dates, approved by the Conservation Commission in May, will be Sept. 7 through 22. Also approved by the Conservation Commission were the following seasons.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also increased the possession limit for most early migratory game birds from two to three times the daily limit. The only exception is rails, for which the daily and possession limits remain 25.
Conservation Department Resource Scientist Doreen Mengel says state and federal waterfowl biologists approved the changes after careful consideration and analysis of possible effects on migratory bird populations.
“We are confident that the increased daily limit for teal and larger possession limits for most other species will not have an adverse effect on bird numbers,” says Mengel. “Weather and habitat conditions are the most important limiting factors on these species’ nesting success.”
Hunters who plan to apply for reservations at Conservation Department managed wetland areas will find the same three areas under the Quick Draw system this year. The only change is an increase in the number of hunting spots to be allocated through the “poor line.”
You can apply for reservations at 12 wetland areas from Sept. 1 through 15 at mdc.mo.gov/7559. Eagle Bluffs, Grand Pass, and Otter Slough conservation areas are still under Quick Draw. For those three areas, a drawing on Monday of each week will assign hunting slots for the following Friday through Monday. A Quick Draw each Thursday will assign slots for the following Tuesday through Thursday.
The traditional system assigns reservations months in advance. Quick Draw allows hunters to take weather and other conditions into account when deciding when and where to apply.
Neither Quick Draw nor the traditional systems allows nonresidents to apply for reservations. However, resident hunters who draw reservations can include nonresidents in their hunting parties. Also, nonresidents can take part in the daily, on-site “poor-line” drawings under both systems.
Under Quick Draw, the computer drawing determines the order in which successful applicants are allowed to select hunting spots. It also determines where hunting spots for the “poor line” will fit in the daily order of selection. On any given day, the No. 1 spot can be in either the Quick Draw or “poor-line” portion of the draw.
In previous years, Quick Draw allocated four out of five hunting spots to successful applicants. This year, only three of four spots will be assigned through Quick Draw, leaving one in four slots for hunters who vie for spots in the daily drawing.
Unlike deer, turkey, and many other types of hunting, which involve long hours of waiting, dove hunting at its best can mean nonstop action. This makes it a good choice for introducing youngsters to hunting. A dove-hunting clinic in Callaway County Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 is a great way for hunters age 8 through 15 to get a taste of this action-packed sport.
The clinic begins on Saturday at Prairie Fork Conservation Area (CA) with instruction in hunting safety, dove biology, dove management, regulations, hunting strategy, and wing-shooting from 4 to 8 p.m. Dinner is provided, and there will be a drawing for door prizes. Participants will put their knowledge into practice on Sunday, hunting on a field reserved for them at Whetstone Creek CA.
Parents or adult mentors are encouraged to accompany youth participants. Guides will be provided if needed. Participants may use their own equipment, but shotguns and ammunition also will be provided. Youths must be hunter-education certified or accompanied by a licensed adult. Only 15 spots are available in the clinic, so register now by calling 573-254-3330.
Missouri leads the nation in recruiting new hunters, thanks to numerous conservation areas, youth-only seasons, low-cost permits, and Conservation Department-sponsored outdoor education programs.
The Conservation Commission wants your help identifying citizen conservationists who deserve recognition through the Master Conservationist and Missouri Conservation Hall of Fame programs. The Master Conservationist Award honors living or deceased citizens while the Missouri Conservation Hall of Fame recognizes deceased individuals. Those who can be considered for either honor are:
Citizens who performed outstanding acts or whose dedicated service over an extended time produced major progress in fisheries, forestry, or wildlife conservation in Missouri.
Employees of conservation-related agencies who performed outstanding acts or whose dedicated service over an extended time produced major progress in fisheries, forestry, or wildlife conservation in Missouri.
Anyone can submit a nomination, which should include a statement describing the nominee’s accomplishments and a brief biography. Criteria and nomination forms for each award are available at mdc.mo.gov/node/7763 and mdc.mo.gov/node/7759. Please submit nominations by Oct. 1 to Denise Bateman, Missouri Department of Conservation, PO Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180, Denise.Bateman@mdc.mo.gov.
Dove hunting season opens Sept. 1. To provide quality hunting opportunities, the Conservation Department plants sunflowers, wheat, millet, and other crops on dozens of conservation areas (CAs) statewide. Dove-field locator maps are available at mdc.mo.gov/18183. Crops grow better on some areas than others, so advance scouting is important. Heavy rains and flooding this spring affected some dove management fields, but significant opportunities remain.
Safety consciousness is particularly important on public hunting areas. Hunters should space themselves at safe intervals. Don’t shoot at birds lower than 45 degrees above the horizon. Politely call attention to safety issues the first time they arise. If you plan to introduce a new hunter to doves, leave your own shotgun at home, so you can devote your full attention to your protégé.
Hunters are asked to report any doves they shoot that have leg bands. To report bands, call 800-327-2263 or visit reportband.gov. You will need to give the band number, and where and when the bird was killed.
The discovery of emerald ash borers in two more Missouri counties means Missourians must be more careful than ever not to spread the destructive forest pest.
Bollinger and Pulaski are the two latest counties where routine monitoring revealed infestation of the half-inch, metallic-green beetles. In response, the Missouri Department of Agriculture has expanded a quarantine regulating the movement of many ash wood products to reduce the spread of the borer. Other counties also under quarantine are Carter, Clay, Iron, Madison, Platte, Reynolds, Shannon, and Wayne.
The quarantine limits the movement of ash wood products from these counties. It covers all parts of ash trees, from logs and green lumber to compost, bark, chips, and nursery stock, as well as all hardwood firewood. To move affected products, you must first enter into a compliance agreement through USDA-APHIS Plant Protection and Quarantine.
The emerald ash borer kills ash trees by tunneling beneath their bark, cutting off the flow of water and nutrients between tree roots and crowns. No ash species is resistant to the pest, which has virtually eliminated ash trees from millions of acres of forest in the eastern United States.
Much of the pests’ spread results from people unknowingly transporting infested firewood, logs, and tree debris. Missouri’s quarantine prohibits both interstate and intrastate movement of such products. Detailed information about the borer and the quarantine is available at eab.missouri.edu.
Many trees live longer than humans do, but none live forever. And while some trees may be the biggest ones of their kind today, other specimens may outgrow them over time. Those are the reasons Missouri got two new champion trees this spring.
High winds on May 31 toppled the state-champion eastern cottonwood, which stood on Columbia Bottom Conservation Area in St. Louis County. The tree had a circumference of 25.8 feet, a height of 127 feet, and 103-foot spread. A 5-foot portion of the trunk remained after the storm, but the rest was snapped off.
The tree’s demise cleared the way for champion designation of a cottonwood on private property in Platte County. That tree has a trunk circumference of 28.3 feet, a height of 78 feet and a spread of 158 feet. To put that into practical terms, the tree is big enough to shade half a football field.
Another new champion is the 98-foot-tall northern red oak on Jim Weyland’s property in Howard County. The tree has a circumference of 18 feet, and a crown spread of 74 feet. It became the new state champion when the Conservation Department was unable to find and re-measure the previous champion.
The Conservation Department revisits champion trees periodically to make sure they are still alive and to re-measure them in case they have grown or declined significantly. Weyland’s tree, first measured in 1996, had gained 16 inches in circumference in the intervening 17 years.
Do you think you may have a champion tree? Visit mdc.mo.gov/node/4831 to find information on how to nominate your tree.
One of the ways the Conservation Department helps people discover nature is through exhibits, live programs, and hands-on activities at the Missouri State Fair. This year’s fair offerings will include appearances by a live barred owl and bald eagle on opening day, fish cooking and cleaning demonstrations using Asian carp, wildlife calling, tree identification, bowfishing, a portable sawmill, landscaping to control storm water, water safety, feral hogs, fly tying, and dealing with nuisance wildlife around your home. Perennial favorites, such as the air-conditioned Conservation Kids’ Room and aquariums and terrariums with Missouri fish, amphibians, and reptiles will be back, along with a few surprises. The conservation pavilion, located at the south end of the fairgrounds, is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. The Kids’ Room hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Gov. Jeremiah “Jay” Nixon wants Missourians to hike, bike, or paddle 100 miles. The Missouri Department of Conservation wants to make it easy.
In June, Gov. Nixon launched the “100 Missouri Miles” initiative, challenging Missourians to hike, bike, or paddle 100 miles in Missouri by the end of the year. (See 100missourimiles.com). The challenge encourages Missourians to enjoy healthful outdoor activities with family and friends. Gov. Nixon rolled out the initiative on the heels of the nonprofit American Trails naming Missouri the No. 1 trail state in the nation.
Dovetailing perfectly with the governor’s initiative is a new book and an online service from the Conservation Department. The book is an updated edition of the Paddler’s Guide to Missouri. The 94-page, 8.5- by 11-inch book features maps and detailed descriptions of nearly 3,000 floatable miles on 58 streams and rivers.
The guide is available for $8 per copy (plus shipping and tax, where applicable) at Conservation Department offices, nature centers, and the Department’s online Nature Shop, mdcnatureshop.com. Buy your copy at a conservation nature center or regional office in August and get a 20-percent discount.
If paddling doesn’t “float your boat,” the Conservation Department has an impressive compendium of information about more than 700 miles of foot, bicycle, and equestrian trails at 146 conservation areas and nature centers around the state. All this information is available free in a searchable database at mdc.mo.gov/node/3392.
These are just two ways the Conservation Department helps Missourians discover nature.
The Department of Conservation serves nature and you.
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