This Annual Report summary highlights the Missouri Department of Conservation’s accomplishments and expenditures from July 1, 2012, through June 30, 2013. These accomplishments are based on the Department’s five main goals. Not only does this summary highlight the accomplishments of the Department, but it emphasizes that Missourians care about conserving forests, fish, and wildlife; that we work with Missourians and for Missourians to sustain healthy forests, fish, and wildlife; that we help people discover nature; that conservation makes Missouri a great place to hunt and fish; and that conservation pays by enriching our economy and quality of life.
The Missouri Conservation Commission approved an elk restoration plan in October 2010. An elk restoration zone was established that included portions of Carter, Shannon, and Reynolds counties. In 2011, 39 elk that had been captured and transported from Kentucky were released on Peck Ranch Conservation Area (CA). In 2012, additional elk were captured in Kentucky and released at both Peck Ranch CA (19 adult elk plus 13 calves) and at The Nature Conservancy’s Chilton Creek Preserve (14 adult elk). In 2013, 39 elk were captured and transported from Kentucky, one male calf was born en route, and all were released on Peck Ranch CA.
In March 2013, Department conservation agents, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) special agents, and wildlife officers from other states contacted more than 100 suspects in Missouri and eight other states to issue citations, execute arrest warrants, conduct interviews, and gather information regarding paddlefish poaching. The arrests and citations were the result of a multi-year joint undercover investigation by the Department and the USFWS involving the illegal commercialization of Missouri paddlefish and their eggs for national and international caviar markets.
Extreme drought took hold in 2012. Examples of how the drought affected the state’s forest, fish, and wildlife include:
Department staff in cooperation with state and federal agencies, conservation groups, agricultural organizations, and private landowners, including farmers, eradicated more than 1,000 feral hogs in Missouri as part of a five-year plan. The plan has developed cooperative relationships, assisted landowners, increased the number of hogs eradicated, and improved Department communications.
The Department’s Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery in Branson and the Saint Louis Zoo’s Ron Goellner Center for Hellbender Conservation, with support from other agencies and private citizens, worked together to keep Missouri’s largest salamander from extinction through cutting edge efforts. Eight female Ozark hellbenders laid more than 2,800 eggs with about 2,500 26 Missouri Conservationist January 2014 of these successfully hatching into larvae. During the summer of 2012, 89 eastern hellbenders raised at the hatchery and 66 Ozark hellbenders raised at the zoo were released into their native Ozark rivers.
The Department completed a statewide black bear population estimation project in 2012. Our population work resulted in identifying 141 individual bears and an overall population estimate of 252 bears. Black bear distribution in southern Missouri appears patchy and restricted to areas of continuous forest such as the Mark Twain National Forest.
During the 2012 fur hunting and trapping season, more than 9,000 trapping permits were sold — a 25-year high. Fur harvests during the 2012 season broke records with an all-time record harvest of bobcats, a second highest of all-time otter harvest, and the highest coyote harvest in 25 years.
The Department initiated the development of a Comprehensive Conservation Strategy (CCS) in January 2012 to further improve habitat conservation for fish and wildlife. The Department evaluated the priority conservation opportunities across the state and selected eight places to potentially increase our investments in staff time, budget, and conservation partner energy. The CCS may be the first in the nation to fully integrate plans for forests, watersheds, and fisheries, and all other wildlife into a common framework for action.
Conservation area management plans document strategies for natural resource management and public use on conservation areas. In fiscal year 2013, staff drafted 56 plans that cover 140 conservation areas and accesses. These draft plans will be available for a public comment period during fiscal year 2014. Public review of area plans will offer a new level of transparency to Missourians, with the opportunity for anyone to comment about the management of a specific conservation area.
The Department maintained active management on Department lands — especially for quail and grassland birds and forest and woodland habitat. In fiscal year 2013, Department staff conducted habitat management on more than 182,000 acres of public land.
The Department’s state forest nursery annually grows and distributes about 3 million seedlings of more than 60 species. The seedlings are planted on both public and private lands statewide. The nursery filled more than 10,700 orders involving more than 26,600 packages of seedlings, with a customer satisfaction rate of more than 99 percent. An open house and tour of the 100-acre nursery hosted more than 400 people in spring 2013.
The Department hosted events in October 2012 to mark the 30th anniversary of Burr Oak Woods Conservation Nature Center in Blue Springs. Burr Oak was the Department’s first nature center. It hosts 80,000 visitors annually. The nature center features exhibits and interpretive programs, picnic areas, pavilions, five hiking trails, viewing/photo blind, and viewing decks and bridges.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation gave the Jay Henges Shooting Range near High Hill its enviable 4-star rating. Range improvements made in the past two years include creating a 15-target, 3-D, walk through archery range, and renovating the rifle and pistol range with state-of-the-art safety features and the capacity to capture and recycle all projectiles fired.
The Department began its 10th year of an internship program. Objectives are threefold: expose students to a variety of professional tasks and the Department’s culture, mentor students in disciplines in which job candidates are scarce, and attract students with diverse backgrounds to the Department’s workforce. In fiscal year 2013, 12 students interned.
County Assistance Payments—$1,639,888 Paid county levee and drainage district taxes, forest cropland payments, in lieu of real estate taxes, and county aid road trust payments. Since 1980, paid more than $17.5 million to Missouri counties in lieu of real estate taxes.
Capital Improvements—$14,844,254 Constructed, renovated, and repaired fish hatcheries, river accesses, wetlands, shooting ranges, nature centers, and facilities statewide; and acquired land.
Fisheries—$13,243,735 Managed sport fish populations, aquatic biodiversity, and aquatic habitats. Managed 1,014 areas for fishing, and assisted 5,446 landowners with stream and lake management. Stocked about 5.1 million fish in public waters.
Forestry—$18,342,297 Distributed about 3 million seedlings to 10,700 landowners, provided forestry assistance on more than 75,614 acres of private land and to more than 140 municipalities, managed 438,700 acres of public forest, monitored insect and disease threats, and facilitated development of the state’s forest industry.
Wildlife—$20,023,939 Managed more than 182,000 acres of public land. Monitored federally endangered or threatened species. Identified priority geographies to focus investments. Aided guidance and funding for national and international bird conservation. Facilitated about 50,000 hunter trips through managed hunts.
Outreach and Education—$15,274,280 Nearly 800,000 visited nature centers and shooting ranges, more than 500,000 subscribed to the Missouri Conservationist, more than 120,000 subscribed to Xplor, and more than 5.5 million visited MDC’s website. Also provided more than $200,000 in grants to schools, conservation curriculums for schools, outdoor skills programs, and hunter education.
Private Land Services—$8,858,706 Provided 31,400 rural and urban landowner contacts; affected 280,155 acres through technical assistance to landowners; provided habitat management workshops to 40,486; assisted USDA with enrolling 90,000 acres of cropfield reflooding in the Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative; and assisted 5,607 landowners with nuisance wildlife.
Protection—$15,864,335 Provided wildlife law enforcement in every county as well as resource management, information, education, and public service. Conservation agents contacted approximately 710,000 people, and they coordinated the Share the Harvest program. Conservation agents, along with 1,067 volunteers donating 11,000 hours, conducted 974 hunter education classes, certifying 24,151 students.
Resource Science—$11,365,690 Monitored the status of Missouri’s fish, forests, plants, and wildlife, recommended conservation actions, evaluated these actions, and reported the results. Tens of thousands of Missourians were contacted to determine their outdoor activities and opinions about conservation programs.
Regional Public Contact Offices—$2,197,119 Provided regional offices to directly serve Missourians.
Administrative Services—$24,808,373 Paid for hunting and fishing permit sale systems, fiscal services, purchasing, distribution center, and sign shop. Provided agency-wide postage and printing services, fleet management, vehicle and equipment maintenance, and other agency appropriations. Includes information management and technology that supported all computers, software, telephones, and other telecommunications systems.
Human Resources—$2,402,906 Provided the services to recruit, employ, and train employees.
Design and Development—$12,016,123 Provided engineering, architectural design, cultural resource review, surveying, and construction, as well as maintenance of conservation areas and facilities.
Administration—$3,013,005 Provided audits, legal counsel, strategic planning coordination, federal reimbursement administration, environmental policy development, public involvement, and river basin management.
The Department developed goals and priorities for fiscal years 2013 and 2014 to serve as an annual strategic plan to address the most important conservation challenges within the next few years. To increase communication of the goals and priorities, a brochure and video presentation were prepared. View the video at youtube.com/watch?v=LrqZNPjy4sw.
The Department’s Facebook page has more than 52,000 likes and reaches almost 39,000 people per week who share our information with more than 5.5 million friends. Our Twitter feed has more than 4,100 followers, and our YouTube channels contain more than 1,000 videos and average about 100,000 views per month with more than 8 million total views.
Discover Nature Schools helps teachers engage students hands-on, outdoor learning from kindergarten through high school and are in 70 percent of Missouri school districts. Conservation grants supporting Discover Nature Schools totaled $250,641. In 2013, teachers were introduced to the Discover Nature Schools Science Fair initiative.
The Department held or participated in more than 727 habitat management workshops for more than 38,000 private landowners. Workshops focused on techniques to benefit early successional wildlife such as quail, rabbits, and grassland birds.
The Department provided forest management on-site technical assistance to 1,566 landowners statewide impacting 75,614 acres. A total of 356 plans covering 33,685 acres were written. In addition 74 private land timber sales were marked and 189 landowners were referred to a forest consultant.
The Department’s revised Paddler’s Guide to Missouri features 58 rivers and streams. It has been one of the Department’s best-selling books since its release in 1965. Each waterway includes easy-to-read maps, descriptions of access points, camping, state parks, and conservation areas along the way.
The Department and nongovernment organizations provided 45 wildlife and habitat cooperatives with information through workshops and educational meetings in fiscal year 2013.
Part of delivering excellent public service is to listen and understand Missourians. In fiscal year 2013, there were 53 activities that involved 83,802 people. These included surveys, focus groups, open houses, comments, and presentations to the Regulations Committee, and contacts with the Department’s ombudsman.
The County Aid Road Trust program enables the Department to cost share maintenance of roads accessing Department areas with 39 counties and other local governments. The program provided about $530,000 statewide last fiscal year.
The Department, in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service, provided $354,467 in grants to 182 volunteer fire departments. Equipment was also provided to fire departments through two federal programs. Through the Federal Excess Property Program we obtained equipment valued at $3,383,794. The new Fire Fighter Program obtained equipment valued at $2,040,321.
Conservation agents coordinate and support the Share the Harvest program with the Conservation Federation of Missouri, local charitable organizations, and local meat processors. In 2012, approximately 6,244 hunters donated 318,115 pounds of venison to less-fortunate Missourians.
A disabled accessible fishing platform was constructed at Bennett Spring on the east side of the stream just below the dam, and another new fishing platform was built directly across the stream. The Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation raised more than $60,000 from local businesses and organizations to fund this project.
Missouri National Archery in the Schools (MoNASP) is coordinated through the Department and the Conservation Federation of Missouri. MoNASP is an affiliate of NASP and promotes education, self-esteem, and physical activity through archery to more than 63,000 Missouri students in 290 schools statewide. The Department co-hosted the NASP World Tournament in June 2013 in St. Louis — the first one held in Missouri. A total of 3,045 students participated, representing 22 states and two Canadian provinces.
Conservation Sales Tax – $102,532,262
Permit Sales– $31,983,335
Federal Reimbursements – 26,543,555
Sales and Rentals– $7,820,331
Other Sources– $3,535,350
Total Receipts– $172,804,624
County Assistance Payments – 1.00%
Capital Improvements – 9.06%
Fisheries – 8.08%
Forestry – 11.19%
Wildlife – 12.22%
Outreach and Education– 9.32%
Private Land Services – 5.41%
Protection – 9.68%
Resource Science – 6.93%
Regional Public Contact Offices – 1.34%
Administrative Services – 15.14%
Human Resources – 1.46%
Design and Development – 7.33%
Administration – 1.84%
Health and Social Services – 44.4%
Education – 27.3%
Government Services –.6%
Transportation – 9.0%
Natural and Economic Resources – 4.1%
Conservation – 0.6%
MDC represents less than 1% of the total state budget
Total State Budget– $24,031,415,726
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